PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (Sports Network) - The race for the 2010 Buck Buchanan Award, sponsored by Fathead.com, kicked off Monday with The Sports Network's announcement that four finalists from last season are part of a stellar 20- player Watch List for the Football Championship Subdivision's top individual honor.
In a twist, two of the returning finalists have brought a pair of teammates to the Watch List.
The Buchanan Award is in its 16th season and will be presented to the FCS' national defensive player of the year on Thursday, Jan. 6 in Frisco, Texas - the night before the national championship game. The 2009 winner was James Madison's Arthur Moats, a draft choice of the Buffalo Bills this year.
The top returning vote-getters are Eastern Washington senior linebacker J.C. Sherritt, who was the runner-up, and Grambling State senior defensive end Christian Anthony, who was fourth. The other returning finalists are Appalachian State senior strong safety Mark LeGree, who was fifth, and Richmond senior defensive tackle Martin Parker, who was 13th.
LeGree and Parker have some familiar company on the Watch List. Appalachian State also is represented by senior defensive end Jabari Fletcher and senior linebacker D.J. Smith. Richmond's trio of representatives includes senior linebacker Eric McBride and senior cornerback Justin Rogers.
Senior linebacker Terence Thomas of 2009 FCS champion Villanova joins the Watch List at its most-represented position. Samford senior Bryce Smith and Stephen F. Austin senior Jabara Williams are the other linebackers among the six.
Other defensive linemen are defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis of The Citadel and defensive ends Christian Clark of Sacramento State and Malcolm Taylor of Alcorn State. Each is a senior.
The Watch List includes six additional defensive backs. Three are cornerbacks - Southern Illinois senior Korey Lindsey, Eastern Kentucky junior Jeremy Caldwell and Montana junior Trumaine Johnson - while two are free safeties, Southern Illinois senior Mike McElroy and Southern senior Jason House. House led the FCS with 10 interceptions last season. Also included is a strong safety, Dayton senior James Vercammen.
Among the returning players to the Watch List, Sherritt led the FCS a year ago with 14.2 tackles per game for a total of 170, including 24 in a game against Weber State. Anthony did a bit of everything for Grambling State, totaling 76 tackles (including 55 solos), 15 tackles for losses, eight sacks, five interceptions, five forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
LeGree was a Buchanan finalist for the second straight year after he finished third in the 2009 voting. Last season, he had seven interceptions to lead the Southern Conference for a second straight year, and added six more pass breakups and 70 tackles. Parker made an impressive 75 tackles in the middle of Richmond's defensive line, including 15.5 for losses, while registering 10 quarterback hurries.
The Buchanan Award Watch List can undergo revision during the 2010 season, when updated lists are announced on Oct. 4 and 25. Ballots will be sent to a panel of approximately 200 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries after the regular season on Nov. 22.
The Sports Network also presents the Walter Payton and Eddie Robinson awards which are sponsored by Fathead. The Payton Award honors the FCS player of the year and the Robinson Award honors the FCS coach of the year. Those two awards, like the Buchanan, will be presented at the national awards banquet.