Senior leadership is so important to college football teams, but the STATS FCS National Players of the Week announced on Monday reflected how fast younger players can have an impact.
Holy Cross’ Spencer Gilliam and Weber State’s Josh Davis, a pair of freshmen, plus Chattanooga sophomore Bryce Nunnelly and Montana junior Dante Olson earned the top national honors for Week 2 games through Sept. 8.
NATIONAL OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Bryce Nunnelly, Chattanooga, WR, So., 6-2, 190, Cleveland, Tennessee
Nunnelly caught 10 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns and threw a game-winning 2-point conversion in overtime to lift Chattanooga past The Citadel 29-28. On the final play of OT, Nunnelly took a pitch from quarterback Nick Tiano while rolling right in the backfield and then lofted a pass to Jordan Giberti in the end zone. Nunnelly, who caught 76- and 20-yard touchdowns, totaled the third-most receiving yards ever in a Southern Conference game. He was named the conference’s offensive player of the week for the second straight week.
Honorable Mention: Gage Gubrud, QB, Eastern Washington; Pete Guerriero, RB, Monmouth; Cade Johnson, WR, South Dakota State; JaJuan Lawson, QB, Rhode Island; Kelvin McKnight, WR, Samford; Jordan Meachum, RB, Sacred Heart; Donald Parham, TE, Stetson; Austin Simmons, QB, South Dakota; James Tabary, QB, McNeese; Dawonya Tucker, RB, Prairie View A&M; Dresser Winn, QB, UT Martin
NATIONAL DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Dante Olson, Montana, LB, R-Jr., 6-3, 237, Medford, Oregon
Josh Buss is Montana’s All-Big Sky linebacker, but Olson has been even better to start the season, earning the conference’s first two defensive player of the week awards against Iowa opponents. This time, he beat up Drake in the Grizzlies’ 48-16 victory, collecting a career-high 16 tackles, including seven solos, 3½ tackles for loss, two sacks in a span of three plays, a forced fumble and a pass breakup.
Honorable Mention: Hayden Bourgeois, S, Northwestern State; Wesley Bowers, LB, Georgetown; Darrin Greenfield, DE, South Dakota; Aaron Harris, LB, Samford; Sean Orsini, LB, Saint Francis; Nick Wheeler, LB, Colgate
NATIONAL SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Spencer Gilliam, Holy Cross, WR/ST, Fr., 5-11, 180, San Antonio
Gilliam literally had a hand in both Holy Cross touchdowns as the Crusaders fell to Boston College 62-14, renewing both programs’ oldest rivalry for the first time in 22 years. Late in the third quarter, Gilliam blocked a punt that teammate Cristos Argys returned 32 yards for the Patriot League team’s first points. In the fourth quarter, he scooped up a blocked punt on the 1-yard line and stepped in for the score. Gilliam added two tackles and returned three kicks and one punt.
Honorable Mention: Que’Shaun Byrd, KR, Bethune-Cookman; Ahmere Dorsey, PR, Rhode Island; Jonathan Hauer, WR/ST, Alcorn State; Tanner Kuljian, P, San Diego; David Ungerer, WR/RS, Idaho; Daniel Whelan. P, UC Davis
NATIONAL FRESHMAN PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Josh Davis, Weber State, RB, R-Fr., 5-9, 195, Sandy, Utah
In his first career start, Davis carried the ball 23 times for 177 yards and two touchdowns to lead Weber State to a 24-17 road victory over Cal Poly (it was considered a non-conference game between the two Big Sky teams). Davis scored from 3 yards out in the first quarter and broke off a 60-yard run in the fourth quarter before finishing off the drive with a 5-yard TD. His 177 yards were the most by a Wildcats running back since 2012.
Honorable Mention: Ramon Jefferson, RB, Maine; Sherman McLeod, WR, North Carolina Central; Jason Pierce, P, Jacksonville State; Calen Snead, WR, Campbell