The three finalists who have been invited to the announcement of the 2022 Stats Perform Buck Buchanan Award have disrupted opposing offenses throughout the season, often found in their backfields.
Outside linebackers John Pius of William & Mary and Zeke Vandenburgh of Illinois State as well as defensive end David Walker of Central Arkansas were among 30 finalists for the Buchanan, which honors the national defensive player of the year in college football’s Division I FCS.
Following the regular season, a 54-member panel voted on the 28th annual award – named for legendary defensive lineman Junious “Buck” Buchanan, who starred at Grambling State as part of his Hall of Fame career. The announcement of the recipient will be made at the FCS National Awards banquet on Jan. 7 in Frisco, Texas.
Pius, from Arlington, Virginia, has helped William & Mary to a share of the CAA Football title and into a playoff quarterfinal this week while also earning the conference’s defensive player of the year award. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound sophomore has 19 tackles for loss (totaling 97 yards) and 11.5 sacks among his 71 tackles, with three pass breakups and 12 QB hurries through 12 games. Ten of his 43 solo tackles came in a rivalry win at Richmond to end the regular season.
Vandenburgh, from Freeport, Illinois, was named defensive player of the year in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The 6-2, 235-pound redshirt senior saved some of his best for last in posting a career-high 17 tackles against Western Illinois in the Redbirds’ season finale. It gave him 100 tackles (51 solos) in a 10-game stat line that also included 21 tackles for loss (120 yards) and an FCS-leading 14 sacks. He also had one interception, four pass breakups, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and four QB hurries.
Walker, from Stuttgart, Arkansas, and a transfer from Southern Arkansas University, was the ASUN’s defensive player of the year, posting 22 tackles for loss, which are tied for the FCS high and went for minus-107 yards. The 6-3, 235-pound sophomore also collected 66 tackles (36 solos), 12 sacks, one pass breakup, one forced fumble and three QB hurries in 11 games. He was particularly dominant against five conference opponents, posting 15 TFLs and 8.5 sacks.
The Buck Buchanan Award, first presented in 1995, has a distinguished history of recipients, including Dexter Coakley, Rashean Mathis, Jared Allen and Arthur Moats.
Also at the national banquet, Stats Perform will present the Walter Payton Award (FCS offensive player of the year), Jerry Rice Award (FCS freshman player of the year) and Eddie Robinson Award (FCS coach of the year), and FedEx Ground will present the Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
2022 Buck Buchanan Award Voting Results
Following is a breakdown of the 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. The final number is the combined point total.
1. TBA, Jan. 7
2. TBA, Jan. 7
3. TBA, Jan. 7
4. Marcus Hillman, DB, Elon: 1-5-7-5-3-59
5. Marte Mapu, DB, Sacramento State: 4-2-4-1-1-43
6. Ty French, DL, Gardner-Webb: 1-1-4-2-8-33
7. Joe Andreessen, LB, Bryant: 0-2-3-5-3-30
8.(tie) Aubrey Miller Jr., LB, Jackson State: 2-2-2-1-1-27
8.(tie) Caleb Sanders, DL, South Dakota State: 2-1-2-2-3-27
8. (tie) Jay Person, DL, Chattanooga: 1-3-1-3-1-27
11. Johnny Buchanan, LB, Delaware: 0-1-4-3-2-24
12. Alijah Huzzie, DB, ETSU: 0-1-3-1-5-20
13. Spencer Waege, DL, North Dakota State: 0-2-2-2-1-19
14. BJ Davis, LB, South Carolina State: 2-1-0-1-2-18
15. Robby Hauck, DB, Montana: 1-0-0-3-3-14
16. Rodney Dansby, LB, Houston Christian: 0-2-0-1-3-13
17. Malik Hamm, DL, Lafayette: 2-0-0-1-0-12
18. Winston Reid, LB, Weber State: 0-0-1-3-1-10
19. Tristan Wheeler, LB, Richmond: 0-1-0-2-1-9
20. John H. Ford II, LB, UT Martin: 0-0-1-1-3-8
21. Bryce Norman, LB, Southeast Missouri: 0-1-0-1-1-7
22. Antoine Williams, LB, Austin Peay: 0-0-1-1-1-6
23. Kelechi Anyalebechi, LB, UIW: 1-0-0-0-0-5
24.(tie) Khalil Baker, DB, North Carolina Central: 0-0-0-1-2-4
24.(tie) Ryan Greenhagen, LB, Fordham: 0-0-0-2-0-4
26. Kavian Gaither, LB, Sam Houston: 0-0-0-0-1-1
27.(tie) Luke Glenna, DB, St. Thomas: 0-0-0-0-0-0
27.(tie) Jake Heimlicher, DL, Penn: 0-0-0-0-0-0
27.(tie) Stone Snyder, LB, VMI: 0-0-0-0-0-0
27.(tie) Chizi Umunakwe, LB, Central Connecticut State: 0-0-0-0-0-0