Jul 18, 2011, 2:24 PM EDT
The race for the 2011 Buck Buchanan Award, sponsored by Fathead.com, kicked off Monday when The Sports Network announced New Hampshire’s Matt Evans and Brian McNally as well as Massachusetts’ Tyler Holmes were among a stellar 20-player Watch List for the Football Championship Subdivision’s top individual defensive honor.
The Buchanan Award is in its 17th season and will be presented to the FCS’ outstanding defensive player at the national awards banquet Thursday night, Jan. 5 in Frisco, Texas. This season’s winner will join a list of Buchanan Award greats such as Dexter Coakley, Jared Allen, Rashean Mathis, Kroy Biermann and 2010 winner J.C. Sherritt of Eastern Washington.
The Buchanan Award Watch List will undergo revision during the 2011 season. Ballots will be sent to a panel of about 200 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries after the regular season on Nov. 21.
Evans, who finished fourth in the 2010 Buck Buchanan Award voting as the only sophomore on the ballot, ranked second in the country with 156 tackles last season. Evans, a Hanover, Mass., native was the Wildcats’ leader in tackles in nine of their 13 games, notched double-digit tackles 11 times and set a career high with 20 stops against William and Mary. Overall, Evans posted four sacks, 10.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions, including a 25-yard pick-six against Towson, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He was feted as a College Sporting News Sweet-63 All-America, a Walter Camp FCS All-America, Associated Press All-America Second Team and All-CAA Football Second Team.
Holmes, a Blacksburg, Va., native finished his junior campaign with a team-best 110 tackles and five sacks for the Minutemen. A fifth-place finisher in the Buchanan balloting a year ago, Holmes earned First Team All-America honors from The Sports Network, AFCA, Associated Press and College Sporting News. Holmes, one of last season’s CAA Football Defensive Players of the Year, registered more than one tackle for loss per contest a year ago, and ranked third in the conference in interceptions after hauling in five in 11 games.
McNally is coming off one of the greatest seasons ever compiled by a New Hampshire defensive player. The Cornwall, N.Y., native was named a College Sporting News Sweet-63 All-American and All-CAA Football First Teamer in 2010 after establishing the University’s all-time single-season record with a league-leading 13.5 sacks. McNally paced the ‘Cats with 15 tackles for loss and made 42 tackles overall, highlighted by a career-high 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble in an NCAA second-round playoff win at Bethune-Cookman.
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