July 25, 2012
San Diego, CA - USD junior defensive end Blake Oliaro (Folsom, CA) is one of 20 Football Championship Subdivision players listed on the initial 2012 Buchanan Watch List, it was announced recently by The Sports Network. The Buck Buchanan Award, which is given to the outstanding defensive player in the FCS, is presented at The Sports Network FCS Awards Presentation following the regular season.
The Buchanan Award Watch List can undergo revision during the 2012 season. Ballots will be sent to a panel of about 175 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries following the regular season on Nov. 19. The top three vote-getters will be invited to The Sports Network FCS Awards Presentation.
The Sports Network also presents the Walter Payton, Jerry Rice and Eddie Robinson awards. The Payton Award honors the FCS player of the year, the Rice Award goes to the FCS freshman of the year and the Robinson Award honors the FCS coach of the year.
Six of the 20 candidates were finalists last season, including linebacker Matt Evans. This season's winner will join a list of Buchanan Award greats such as Dexter Coakley, Jared Allen, Rashean Mathis and Kroy Biermann. Coakley, the original Buchanan recipient in 1995, won again a year later and remains the only two-time winner of the award. Evans hopes to follow in the footsteps of the former NFL linebacker. The 6-foot, 226-pound native of Hanover, Mass., led the FCS in tackles during the regular season and finished second overall with nearly 13.8 per game.
The other 2011 finalists returning to the Watch List are Georgia Southern nose tackle Brent Russell, Indiana State defensive end Ben Obaseki, Howard outside linebacker Keith Pough, Northwestern State inside linebacker Derek Rose and Alabama State safety Kejuan Riley.
Like Evans, Russell already is a two-time Buchanan finalist. Last season, he posted 67 tackles, including 16.5 for loss, with 6.5 sacks, and finished sixth in the voting.
Obaseki is a game-changer on the outside, posting 7.5 sacks and nine quarterback hurries last season. Pough has made 49.5 tackles for loss over the last two seasons, while Rose has 153 solo tackles in that time. Only one player in the FCS had more than Riley's nine interceptions last season.
The newcomers to the Watch List are defensive tackle Zach Minter of Montana State; defensive ends Willie Jefferson of Stephen F. Austin, Joseph LeBeau of Jackson State and Blake Oliaro of San Diego; linebackers Clarence Bumpas of Northern Colorado, Wes Dothard of Chattanooga, Jeremy Kimbrough of Appalachian State, Blake Peiffer of Southeast Missouri State and Tyler Starr of South Dakota; cornerbacks Demetrius McCray of Appalachian State, B.W. Webb of
William & Mary and Marcus Williams of FCS champion North Dakota State; and safeties Malcolm Bronson of McNeese State and Darnell Taylor of Sam Houston State.
USD's Oliaro, from Folsom, California, is coming off an outstanding 2011 campaign that saw him earn Associated Press FCS All-America Second Team honors. Additionally, he was named the PFL Defensive Player of the Year and the USD's Defensive Most Valuable Player. He tied for 4th in the FCS in sacks (1.36) and ranked 10th in tackles for loss (1.77). For the season he finished with 57 tackles (35 solo), 15 quarterback sacks (-99 yards), 19.5 tackles for loss (-125), 6 quarterback hurries, 2 fumble recoveries (1 returned for a TD), 1 forced fumble, 1 interception and 1 blocked kick.
Kimbrough and McCray are the only teammates on the list. Kimbrough had 105 tackles and McCray five interceptions to lead Appalachian State last season.
Among the FCS leaders last season, LeBeau ranked second in sacks per game and fourth in tackles for loss per game, while Peiffer and Bumpas ranked third and fourth, respectively, in tackles per game.
Williams had seven interceptions and 22 passes defended for the national champions.
Webb, like Williams, is a shutdown cornerback. He has earned All-CAA Football first-team honors in each of the last two seasons.
Minter was one of the FCS' best interior defensive linemen last season with 52 tackles, including 7.5 sacks. Only one player had more than Starr's seven forced fumbles, although Dothard wasn't far behind with five.
The Southland Conference boasts Bronson, already a three-time All-Southland Conference first-team selection, and Taylor, the conference's defensive player of the year last season.
Bios of all 20 players can be found on the FCS Awards page at 20 Candidates