Disrupting opposing offenses is a staple for the three standout players who have been invited to the announcement of the 2023 Buck Buchanan Award, which honors the national defensive player of the year in Division I FCS college football and is presented by FedEx Ground.

Defensive end Terrell Allen of Tennessee State and linebackers Dylan Kelly of UAlbany and Billy Shaeffer of Lafayette were among 30 finalists for the 29th annual Buchanan, whose namesake, legendary defensive lineman Junious “Buck” Buchanan, starred at Grambling State as part of his Hall of Fame career. The winner, selected by a national voting panel after the regular season, will be announced at the Stats Perform FCS National Awards Banquet on Jan. 6 in Frisco, Texas – the eve of the national championship game.


Allen, from North Little Rock, Arkansas, was named the defensive player of the year in the inaugural Big South-OVC Football Association, and led the FCS in sacks (14.5), sack yardage (123), tackles for loss (28) and tackle yardage for loss (149) during the regular season. The 6-foot, 275-pound senior finished with 65 tackles, including 44 solos, and had 10 quarterback hurries, five forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one pass breakup.

Kelly, from Amherst, New York, received CAA Football defensive player of the year, totaling 145 tackles and the FCS’ third-highest per-game average (12.1) during the regular season. The 6-2, 224-pound junior also had eight TFLs, three sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, two QB hurries and two pass breakups. The nephew of Hall-of-Famer Jim Kelly added three tackles and a half TFL in the CAA tri-champion’s playoff game against Richmond.

Shaeffer, from Warrington, Pennsylvania, was selected to the Patriot League first team while helping to power Lafayette’s co-championship squad. The 6-3, 232-pound senior collected 75 tackles, including 49 solos, 20.5 TFLs for 102 yards in losses, 10 sacks, four forced fumbles, seven QB hurries and five pass breakups. In the Leopards’ playoff game at Delaware, he added eight more tackles, one TFL, a QB hurry and a forced fumble.

The Buck Buchanan Award, first presented in 1995, has a distinguished history of recipients, including two-time winner Dexter Coakley, Rashean Mathis, Jared Allen and Arthur Moats.

Like the Buchanan Award, the winners of the Walter Payton Award (FCS offensive player of the year), Jerry Rice Award (FCS freshman player of the year), Eddie Robinson Award (FCS coach of the year) and FedEx Ground Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award will be honored at the national awards banquet.

2023 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. The final number is the combined point total.

1, 2, 3. TBA on Jan. 6, between DE Terrell Allen (Tennessee State) and LBs Dylan Kelly (UAlbany) and Billy Shaeffer (Lafayette)

4. Ty French, DE, Gardner-Webb: 2-7-6-1-6-64

5. Anton Juncaj, DE, UAlbany: 1-8-2-4-5-56

6. PJ Jules, S, Southern Illinois: 0-5-4-5-5-47

7. Micah Davey, LB, McNeese: 2-3-3-5-5-46

8. Jacob Dobbs, LB, Holy Cross: 1-5-4-3-1-44

9. Amir Abdullah, LB, Illinois State: 0-6-1-3-2-35

10. Finn Claypool, DE, Drake: 0-3-1-5-2-27

11. Brock Mogensen, LB, South Dakota: 3-1-1-0-1-23

12. Jay Person, DE, Chattanooga: 2-1-0-2-0-18

13.(tie) Braxton Hill, LB, Montana: 0-1-2-2-0-14

13.(tie) Kenny Gallop Jr., S, Howard: 1-1-1-0-2-14

15. Logan Blake, LB, Eastern Kentucky: 0-1-1-2-0-11

16.(tie) Brody Grebe, DE, Montana State: 1-0-1-0-1-9

16.(tie) Daylan Dotson, DE, UT Martin: 0-0-1-2-2-9

16.(tie) Isaiah Major, LB, Florida A&M: 0-0-2-0-3-9

16.(tie) Jalyx Hunt, LB, Houston Christian: 1-1-0-0-0-9

20.(tie) Colton Adams, LB, Alabama State: 0-0-1-2-1-8

20.(tie) Lance Wise Jr., S, Mercer: 0-0-1-1-3-8

22.(tie) Erick Hunter, LB, Morgan State: 0-0-2-0-0-6

22.(tie) Logan Kopp, LB, North Dakota State: 0-0-1-1-1-6

22.(tie) Winston Reid, LB, Weber State: 0-0-1-0-3-6

25.(tie) David Walker, DE, Central Arkansas: 0-0-0-2-1-5

25.(tie) Thor Griffith, DT, Harvard: 0-0-0-2-1-5

27. Eric O’Neill, DE, LIU: 0-0-0-0-3-3

28. Tristan Wheeler, LB, Richmond: 0-0-0-1-0-2

29. Steven Parker, DE, UIW: 0-0-0-0-1-1

30. Nate Lynn, DE, William & Mary: 0-0-0-0-0-0