Jordan Lewis posted exceptional totals during the spring regular season with 15 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks.

It took only five games.

The nation’s top pass rusher, Lewis was rewarded on Saturday with the 2020-21 Stats Perform FCS Buck Buchanan Award, which for the 26th straight season honored the defensive player of the year in college football’s Division I subdivision.

Among 18 finalists, Lewis beat out linebackers Colby Campbell of Presbyterian and Stone Snyder of VMI in close voting by a 40-member national media panel following the regular season, which spanned the fall and spring semesters.

Lewis, a 6-3, 195-pound junior, from Ocala, Florida, ranked No. 1 in the regular season in tackles for loss (15), tackles for loss per game (3.0), tackle yardage for loss (82), sacks (10.5), sacks per game (2.1) and sack yardage (73). The Southwestern Athletic Conference’s defensive player of the year finished with 27 overall tackles (19 solo), posting season highs of 11 tackles, five tackles for loss, four sacks and a forced fumble in a victory at Alabama State.

“He’s relentless in pursuit of the ball,” said former Southern coach Dawson Odums of the one-time state high school champion hurdler.

While Buchanan, the legendary defensive lineman, played collegiately in the SWAC, no player in the conference had won the top individual defensive honor prior to Lewis. Past recipients have included Dexter Coakley, Rashean Mathis, Jared Allen, Arthur Moats and Kyle Emanuel.

Campbell, a 6-foot, 230-pound senior, ended the regular season with 96 tackles in seven games to rank second nationally in tackles per game (13.7). He reached double figures five times, including with an FCS season-high 25 against Pioneer Football League champion Davidson. He finished with seven tackles for 25 yards in losses, one sack, one forced fumble, one quarterback hurry and two pass breakups.

Snyder, a 6-3, 225-pound sophomore, was named Southern Conference co-defensive player of the year after leading the league in tackles per game (10.9) – 76 in seven regular-season games, including 21 versus The Citadel. In helping VMI capture its first SoCon title since 1977 and a first-ever FCS playoff bid, he had 9.5 tackles for 64 yards in losses, eight sacks and four QB hurries. He added 12 more tackles in the playoffs against James Madison.

2020-21 Buck Buchanan Award Voting Results

A first-place vote was worth five points, a second-place vote four points, a third-place vote three points, a fourth-place vote two points and a fifth-place vote one point.

1. Jordan Lewis, DE, Southern: 9-7-3-2-3-89

2. Colby Campbell, LB, Presbyterian: 7-6-5-3-4-84

3. Stone Snyder, LB, VMI: 4-6-5-3-5-70

4. Isaiah Chambers, DE, McNeese: 4-2-5-6-7-62

5. La’akea Kaho’ohanohano-Davis, LB, Southern Utah: 2-3-4-5-1-45

6. Nicario Harper, S, Jacksonville State: 4-0-3-4-5-42

7. Jared Brinkman, NT, Northern Iowa: 6-0-0-1-1-33

8. Jahari Kay, DE, Sam Houston: 0-4-4-1-1-32

9. Mike Greene, DE, James Madison: 3-1-3-1-0-30

10. Tre Walker, DE, Idaho: 0-2-2-3-2-22

11. (tie) Storey Jackson, 0-4-0-1-2-20

11. (tie) Robert Rochell, CB, Central Arkansas: 1-2-1-1-2-20

13. Kordell Jackson, NB, Austin Peay: 0-1-4-1-1-19

14. Tristan Wheeler, LB, Richmond: 0-0-0-5-2-12

15. Bryson Armstrong, LB, Kennesaw State: 0-2-0-1-1-11

16. Chris Edmonds, CB, Samford: 0-0-1-2-1-8

17. Ryan Greenhagen, LB, Fordham: 0-0-0-0-1-1

18. Titus Leo, DE, Wagner: 0-0-0-0-0-0