(STATS) - Quickness, power and athleticism link the seven nominees to the STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award Watch List on Wednesday.
All upperclassmen, they've enjoyed exceptional seasons while disrupting offenses on a weekly basis.
The nominees for the Buchanan Award, which honors the FCS defensive player of the year:
Darien Anderson, Alcorn State, LB, Sr., 6-1, 240, Miami
Quarterbacks in the SWAC must be getting tired of seeing Anderson in their backfield. He ranks among the conference and FCS leaders in tackles for loss (15) and sacks (8.5) this season. … Totaled 12 tackles with four sacks against Grambling State and 13 tackles - four for loss - and 1 1/2 sacks against Texas Southern. … Utilizes a fast, aggressive style and lets his playmaking do his talking in a low-key style. Helped Alcorn State win back-to-back SWAC championships in 2014 and '15. Led the Braves in tackles as a junior.
Christopher Beaschler, Dayton, LB, R-Sr., 6-1, 226, Ada, Ohio
Beaschler is as accomplished off the field as he is on it. The mechanical engineering major is one of 12 finalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy, the "Academic Heisman" which recognizes the best football scholar-athlete in the nation. He's already a three-time Academic All-American. … On the field, he ranks in the top five in career tackles among active FCS players. … Helped lead Dayton to the 2015 Pioneer Football League title and its first berth in the FCS playoffs with 112 tackles. Two-time captain, only the sixth player in Dayton history to accomplish it. … Beaschler's father, Ron, is the head wrestling coach at Ohio Northern University.
Winston Craig, Richmond, DT, Sr., 6-4, 290, Greensboro, North Carolina
A 290-pound defensive lineman isn't recognized often for athleticism, but Craig is agile and mobile enough to stand up from a three-point stance and position himself as a linebacker. His versatility reflects why the senior is tied for the CAA Football lead in sacks (7.5) despite playing on the interior of the line. … He draws double-teams, but uses his athleticism to dominate games. Has more sacks as a senior than in his first three seasons combined. … Helped the Spiders to a share of the 2015 CAA title and a playoff run that reached the national semifinals.
Garrett Dolan, Houston Baptist, LB, Jr., 6-2, 240, Mont Belvieu, Texas
As Houston Baptist grows its young program, Dolan has been a building block. He led the team in tackles in each of his first two seasons and is leading the FCS with 114 in 2016. Double-digit games are a staple with the junior, whom coach Vic Shealy describes as a classic linebacker. … Opened the 2016 season by tying his school-record with 18 tackles against Central Arkansas in a Southland Conference game. … Finished his sophomore season ranked 11th in the FCS in tackles per game. … His older brother, Jared, and three uncles also played in the Southland Conference.
Chad Geter, Gardner-Webb, LB, R-Sr., 6-2, 253, Irmo, South Carolina
Named to the 2016 STATS Preseason All-America third team, Geter has posted a dominant final season with the Runnin' Bulldogs. He bulked up in the offseason, but maintained his speed and agility, and has gone over 100 tackles for the first time. … Had 10 tackles in Gardner-Webb's 17-10 upset of Charleston Southern on Nov. 5. … Led the team in tackles in 2015 (92) while being named to the All-Big South Conference first team. Missed the final nine games in 2014 and gained a medical redshirt. … Converted safety has NFL size to play at outside linebacker.
Cole Reyes, North Dakota, S, R-Jr., 6-2, 215, Schaumburg, Illinois
Jumped into the starting lineup as a redshirt freshman in 2014 and hasn't looked back, consistently being one of the stalwarts of a North Dakota defense that has been among the Big Sky Conference's best during his career. … Returned from a two-game absence because of injury on Oct. 29 to total eight tackles and two second-half interceptions in a win over Weber State, earning his second Big Sky defensive player of the week award of the season. … A gritty playmaker, he is a hard-hitting safety. Was second on the team in tackles as a sophomore, including 10 against FCS national champion North Dakota State.
Alex Scearce, Coastal Carolina, LB, Sr., 6-3, 220, Huntersville, North Carolina
As Coastal Carolina departs the FCS level, Scearce is having a dominant senior season. He has seven takeaways (five interceptions and two fumble recoveries) and returned three of them for touchdowns, including two in one game. He's also forced two fumbles, one which was recovered for a touchdown … Originally recruited as a wide receiver, he has excellent hands on defense, and he's versatile on the pass rush or dropping back into pass coverage. Also lauded for his leadership and work ethic. … On his way to leading the Chanticleers in tackles (63) for the second consecutive season. He had 79 stops as a junior.
The Buck Buchanan Award Watch List also includes:
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, Darius Jackson of Jacksonville State, Javancy Jones of Jackson State, Caleb Kidder of Montana, Tanoh Kpassagnon of Villanova, 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;
Safeties: Mike Basile of Monmouth, Lorenzo Jerome of Saint Francis, 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 select the STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award following the regular season. Also this season, STATS will present the Walter Payton Award (FCS offensive player of the year), the Jerry Rice Award (FCS freshman player of the year), the Eddie Robinson Award (FCS coach of the year) and the Doris Robinson FCS Scholar-Athlete of the Year.