FRISCO, Texas – Jan. 10, 2020 – The way Montana linebacker Dante Olson wrecked the game plans of opposing offenses lived up to Buck Buchanan’s legacy.
Olson, the nation’s leading tackler, was honored Friday night with the 25th annual Buchanan Award, presented at the Stats Perform FCS Awards Banquet. The 2019 defensive player of the year in college football’s Division I subdivision emerged from a group of 26 finalists which included runner-up Ron’Dell Carter of James Madison and third-place finisher Sully Laiche of Nicholls – a pair of defensive ends.
Olson, a 6-foot-3, 240-pound redshirt senior, led the FCS in tackles per game (12.8) for the second consecutive season, setting Big Sky Conference and Montana single-season records with 179 tackles. The Big Sky’s co-defensive player of the year helped the Grizzlies qualify for the FCS playoffs for the first time since 2015.
A two-time first-team All-American from Medford, Oregon, Olson had 10 or more tackles in 10 of 14 games, adding 11 tackles for loss, 3½ sacks, two takeaways and two forced fumbles to dominating season totals. He had an incredible 330 of his school-record 393 career tackles over his final two seasons.
“He’s just a humble guy that works his tail off. He wants to be good, and he’s not satisfied unless he improves,” Montana coach Bobby Hauck said. “Then personally, he’s just a wonderful guy to be around. He’s good, not just at football, he’s a good person. He’s a great guy.”
Carter, the CAA Football defensive player of the year, has helped James Madison advance to Saturday’s FCS championship game, totaling 59 tackles in 15 games, including 25½ for loss and 11½ sacks with 13 quarterback hurries. Laiche, the first defensive player since 2007 to be named the Southland’s overall player of the year, had 63 tackles, 22½ tackles for loss, 12 sacks and four forced fumbles in 12 games.
A national panel of 156 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries voted on the Buchanan Award, named for the Pro and College Football Hall-of-Fame defensive lineman and presented since 1995. Past winners include Dexter Coakley, Rashean Mathis, Jared Allen and Arthur Moats.
2019 BUCK BUCHANAN AWARD VOTING
(FCS Defensive Player of the Year)
1. Dante Olson, LB, Montana: 36-25-16-11-13-363
2. Ron’Dell Carter, DE, James Madison: 27-16-15-11-9-275
3. Sully Laiche, DE, Nicholls: 21-13-16-9-12-235
4. Zach Hall, LB, Southeast Missouri: 11-15-12-13-16-193
5. Derrek Tuszka, DE, North Dakota State: 7-16-14-11-5-168
6. Kordell Jackson, S, Austin Peay: 4-13-12-13-10-144
7. John Daka, DE, James Madison: 11-7-7-9-9-131
8. Brandon Easterling, S, Dayton: 10-8-3-3-10-107
9. Elerson Smith, DE, Northern Iowa: 3-3-13-9-8-92
10. Eli Mencer, LB, UAlbany: 3-4-4-8-10-69
11. Christian Rozeboom, LB, South Dakota State: 2-6-4-9-4-68
12. Anthony Adams, DB, Portland State: 3-4-7-2-5-61
13. Bryson Armstrong, LB, Kennesaw State: 3-1-5-9-3-55
14.(tie) Da’Jon Lee, LB, Saint Francis: 0-3-6-8-7-53
14.(tie) Bryce Sterk, DE, Montana State: 2-5-4-4-3-53
16. Greg Liggs Jr., CB, Elon: 1-3-3-8-5-47
17. Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois: 2-2-2-7-6-44
18. Cam Gill, LB, Wagner: 2-4-1-1-5-36
19. Willie Eubanks Jr., LB, The Citadel: 1-3-3-0-3-29
20. Isiah Swann, CB, Dartmouth: 1-1-2-3-4-25
21.(tie) Aaron Patrick, DE, Eastern Kentucky: 2-0-1-4-2-23
21.(tie) Keith Woetzel, LB, Lehigh: 0-3-3-1-0-23
23. Rico Kennedy, LB Morgan State: 1-0-2-2-1-16
24. Nick Wheeler, DE, Colgate: 2-0-0-0-1-11
25. Artevius Smith, S, ETSU: 0-1-1-1-1-10
26. Solomon Muhammad, LB, Alcorn State: 1-0-0-0-4-9
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.