Carroll College's Tucker Johnson returns a fumble recovery against Montana Tech. (RICHIE MELBY/MTN Sports)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Carroll College senior defensive back Tucker Johnson and Rocky Mountain College junior defensive back Keenan Fagan have been nominated for the 2017 Cliff Harris Award. The organization announced the news on Wednesday.

The Cliff Harris Award is presented each year to the top defensive player representing NCAA Division II and Division III, as well as NAIA universities. Johnson and Fagan are two of the 32 nominees in the NAIA.

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Fagan, a junior defensive back from Lake Tapps, Wash., led the NAIA with seven interceptions this fall. He also recorded five pass breakups and 64 tackles, with 41 solo, and 3.5 tackles for loss, a pair of sacks and one forced fumble for Jason Petrino’s Battlin’ Bears, which finished the season with a 6-5 record. It was the first winning season for Rocky since 2013.

Fagan was recently named AFCA NAIA all-American, becoming the 13th player in program history to earn all-American status. Fagan was the first Rocky defender to capture the honor under the current AFCA status.

Johnson, a senior from Billings, Mont., had 70 total tackles, 56 solo, for Mike Van Diest’s Fighting Saints. He also forced and recovered a pair of fumbles in earning AFCA NAIA second-team all-American honors.

Fagan and Johnson join fellow Frontier Conference defenders Michal Arenas (Eastern Oregon), Tyson Cooper (Southern Oregon) and Nate Moore (College of Idaho) in earning nominations for the Cliff Harris Award. Dickinson State’s Thomas Sease also made the cut.

In total, 138 student-athletes were nominated across the three levels – DI, DII and NAIA – for the 2017 Cliff Harris Award. The award is named after former Dallas Cowboy pro bowl safety.

The winner of the award has been announced on Christmas Eve in each of the past two seasons.

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