Big-play specialists join FCS Defensive Watch List
(STATS) - Explosive performances catch everybody's attention, but consistency powers a team to a successful season.
Some players mix it all together.
Safeties Mike Basile of Monmouth and Lorenzo Jerome of Saint Francis and defensive ends Darius Jackson of Jacksonville State and Tanoh Kpassagnon of Villanova are posting big performances on a weekly basis. On Tuesday, the four players were nominated to the STATS FCS Defensive Player of the Year Watch List.
The four nominees:
Mike Basile, Monmouth, SS, Jr., 6-1, 200, Brick, New Jersey
A first-team All-Big South selection in each of this first two seasons, Basile just keeps getting better as the playmaking anchor of the Monmouth defense. He gets to the ball in a variety of ways. … As a freshman in 2014, he was named the conference's rookie of the year. As a sophomore, he set the Monmouth single-season record with 119 tackles, which also was the high in the Big South. This season, he has 51 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and two takeaways through five games. … His physical style makes him particularly strong in run support, but Basile also is a ball hawk against the pass, gaining four interceptions in 2014. On special teams, he excels at blocking kicks, as he collected three in the first four games of his junior season.
Lorenzo Jerome, Saint Francis, FS/KR, Sr., 6-0, 195, Sunrise, Florida
An athletically gifted playmaker who wreaks havoc on both defense and special teams, Jerome joins the watch list with the most career interceptions among active FCS players (16). … Quick with great ball skills, he's scored seven non-offensive touchdowns in his career. … Was the STATS FCS Special Teams Player of the Year on Sept. 5 after totaling 196 yards and a touchdown on four kickoff returns against Montana. Also has led Saint Francis in tackles in three of its first five games. … Was on the 2015 STATS FCS All-America second team as a junior, averaging a national-high 31.2 yards per kickoff return. ... Had over 50 tackles in each of his first three seasons, including 79 as a sophomore. … He was the Northeast Conference's rookie of the year in 2013 and is working toward a fourth season on the All-NEC first team.
Darius Jackson, Jacksonville State, DE, R-Jr., 6-3, 237, Bessemer, Alabama
The Ohio Valley Conference's 2016 preseason defensive player of the year continues to get into offensive backfields. As a sophomore, he was a dominant pass rusher on Jacksonville State's 2015 FCS runner-up squad with 19 tackles for loss, seven sacks and five quarterback hurries. This season, he has taken on a lead role, and has 7.5 tackles for loss and five sacks through four games. He's on the verge of becoming JSU's all-time sacks leader. … Has explosive speed coming from the edge, but also drops back to outside linebacker in a combo type of role. ... Usually draws double-teams from an offense. … Part of 2014 and '15 Gamecocks squads that went unbeaten in Ohio Valley Conference games and only lost to FBS teams in the regular season.
Tanoh Kpassagnon, Villanova, DE, R-Sr., 6-7, 290, Ambler, Pennsylvania
CAA Football coaches selected Kpassagnon (tawn-o pass-N-yo) to their all-conference first team in 2015 even though he didn't have eye-catching statistics. Every team could see his growing dominance and focused on him, and he's fully broken out as a senior with 11 tackles for loss and five sacks in Villanova's 4-1 start. The late-developing player, whose father is from the Ivory Coast and mother from Uganda, is a combination of strength and speed. He can rack up tackles for loss and keep quarterbacks uncomfortable. He scored on a 25-yard fumble return on the first play of Villanova's win over Lafayette. … Named to the third team of the 2016 STATS FCS Preseason All-America Team, he is considered a candidate for the 2017 NFL Draft.
Preseason selections to the watch list were defensive ends Pat Afriyie of Colgate, Andrew Ankrah of James Madison, Keionta Davis of Chattanooga, Anthony Ellis of Charleston Southern, P.J. Hall of Sam Houston State, Javancy Jones of Jackson State, Caleb Kidder of Montana, Greg Menard of North Dakota State, Ebenezer Ogundeko of Tennessee State, Derek Rivers of Youngstown State and Karter Schult of Northern Iowa; linebackers Kourtney Berry of Alabama State, Dylan Cole of Missouri State, Nick DeLuca of North Dakota State, Christian Kuntz of Duquesne; Darius Leonard of South Carolina State, Folarin Orimolade of Dartmouth and James Rentz of Sacred Heart; cornerbacks Casey DeAndrade of New Hampshire and Dee Delaney of The Citadel; and safeties David Jones of Richmond and Donald Payne of Stetson.
A national panel of over 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries will vote on the STATS FCS Defensive Player of the Year following the regular season. Also, STATS will honor the outstanding offensive player in the FCS, a freshman player of the year, a coach of the year and the Eddie & Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete of the Year.