(Editor’s note: University of Montana athletics release)
MISSOULA — Montana linebacker Josh Buss picked up yet another major preseason accolade Thursday, becoming the only Big Sky Conference player named to the 25-man STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award watch list.
Buss is one of 10 finalists for the 2017 Buchanan Award to be put on the 2018 watch list – given annually to the top defensive player in FCS football – after helping lead the Griz to the most team tackles-for-loss in the nation last season.
Buss has now earned four major preseason accolades. He was named to the Buchanan Award watch list just days after he became the only Big Sky defender to earn a place on the STATS FCS first-team All-America list.
In July, the 6-2, 220-pound senior also became the only FCS player named to the Butkus Award watch list, given annually to the best linebacker in all of college football. He was also named the Big Sky’s preseason Defensive Player of the Year at the league’s media days in Spokane, Wash.
Buss is Montana’s top returning tackler from last year’s 7-4 squad, and was the fifth-best overall tackler in the Big Sky, averaging 8.5 takedowns per game.
He is poised to make Montana history his senior year, currently sitting eighth on UM’s all-time TFL list with 36 in his three-year career. Buss will need 18 more TFLs to break Zack Wagenmann’s record of 53. He posted 20 TFLs his sophomore season to lead the Big Sky in that category.
Montana has had eleven players in program history become finalists for the Buchanan Award, and two have earned the title as the best defensive player in the FCS. Kroy Biermann won the award in 2007, and Tyrone Holmes won it in 2015 (then named the STATS FCS Defensive Player of the Year). Both went on to careers in the NFL.
Buss, the two-time Steve Carlson Defensive MVP, has 198 career tackles to his name, 36 TFLs, and 12 sacks. He also intercepted a pair of passes in 2017 and racked up seven pass deflections. That year he also set a new career-high with 17 tackles against Eastern Washington.
Western Illinois senior defensive end Khalen Saunders (6-2, 310) is the only other player named the Buchanan Award watch list from an opponent featured on Montana’s 2018 regular season schedule.
The watch list will be updated throughout the year. A national panel of over 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries will vote on 25 finalists following the regular season.
Montana opens the 2018 season against Northern Iowa on Sept 1, under the lights at Washington-Grizzly Stadium. Single game and season tickets are on sale now at the Adams Center Box Office, GrizTix.com, or by calling 1-888-MONTANA.
2018 Buchanan Award Watch List:
Nasir Adderley, Delaware, S, Sr., 6-0, 190
Bryson Armstrong, Kennesaw State, LB, So., 5-11, 205
Willie Barrett, Marist, LB, R-Sr., 5-11, 227
Marlon Bridges, Jacksonville State, S, Jr., 6-0, 200
Miles Brown, Wofford, DL, Sr., 6-2, 320
Josh Buss, Montana, LB, Sr., 6-2, 220
De’Arius Christmas, Grambling State, LB, Sr., 5-10, 220
Andrew Clyde, Richmond, DT, Sr., 6-3, 275
Thomas Costigan, Bryant, LB, Sr., 6-3, 230
Ahmad Gooden, Samford, DE, Sr., 6-1, 240
Darin Greenfield, South Dakota, DE, Jr., 6-3, 235
Robbie Grimsley, North Dakota State, S, Sr., 6-0, 191
Darryl Johnson Jr., North Carolina A&T, DE, R-Jr., 6-5, 226
Greg Menard, North Dakota State, DE, Sr., 6-2, 238
Warren Messer, Elon, LB, Sr., 5-11, 230
Nick Miller, Penn, LB, Sr., 5-11, 215
Davanta Reynolds, North Carolina Central, S, Sr., 5-10, 200
Rashad Robinson, James Madison, CB, Sr., 5-11, 182
Christian Rozeboom, South Dakota State, LB, Jr., 6-2, 230
Khalen Saunders, Western Illinois, DE, Sr., 6-2, 310
Chris Stewart, Sam Houston State, DE, Sr., 6-2, 270
Chris Terrell, Central Arkansas, DE, Jr., 6-3, 266
Marvin Tillman, Western Carolina, S, Sr., 6-1, 190
Nick Wheeler, Colgate, DE, Jr., 6-2, 245
Jaison Williams, Austin Peay, DE, Jr., 6-1, 225
The breakdown of the watch list by position: 11 defensive linemen, eight linebackers and six defensive backs. The Missouri Valley Football Conference had the most preseason nominees with five followed by CAA Football with four and the Southern Conference with three.
MORE ON BUSS
2018: Named to the Buck Buchanan Award watch list … STATS FCS preseason first team All-American … Only FCS player named to the Butkus Award preseason watch list … Preseason Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year … Montana’s leading returning tackler from 2018 with a career total of 198 tackles, 36 tackles-for-loss and 12 sacks … He now ranks among Montana’s top-10 in career TFLs (36) and top-30 in career sacks (12)
2017: Buck Buchanan Award Finalist … 2 x Steve Carlson Defensive MVP … College Sports Madness third-team All-American … Phil Steele FCS third-team All-American … Second-team All-Big Sky Conference … Buss once again ranked among the top defensive performers in the Big Sky Conference, ranked No. 5 in tackles (94), No. 9 in Sacks (5.5), and No. 6 in TFLs (13.5) … He had a career-high 17 tackles against Eastern Washington on 9/23 … Posted a career second-best with 14 tackles against North Dakota on 10/14 … Posted his career-high 2 sacks twice in 2017, picking up a pair against Savannah State and at Weber State … Returned one of two interceptions on the year 21 yards against Savannah State … Montana’s second-leading tackler with 94 on the year … Had 4 TFLs on just 9 tackles at Weber State … Broke-up a pass in five different games … Started all 11 games for the Griz … Ranked in the top-100 nationally in three different categories (tackles, sacks, TFLs).
2016: Named 2016 Steve Carlson Defensive MVP … Named to the HERO SPORTS FCS Sophomore Defensive All-America First Team … Named 3rd Team All-Big Sky at OLB … Named the ROOT Sports Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week after posting a (then) career-high 10 total tackles, another career-high 4.5 tackles-for-loss and a sack against Sacramento State on 10/5/16 … Buss led the Big Sky with 20 tackles-for-loss for 96 yards… Those 20 TFLs ties him at No. 10 in all of FCS football, the only sophomore in the national top-10… Led Montana in tackling as a sophomore … Recorded 81 tackles, 43 of which were solo … Second on the team with 5.5 sacks … Led the team with seven QB hits … Forced a fumble against UNI on Sep. 10 … Recorded at least four tackles in all 11 games … Season-high 11 tackles and a sack in final game of the season against Montana State … Registered a QB hit in the first five games … Recorded a tackle for loss in nine of Montana’s 11 games.
2015: Saw action in 12 games for the Griz … Posted 18 tackles (seven solo) and a single tackle for loss, resulting in a loss of seven yards.
2014: Buss was a redshirt.
HIGH SCHOOL: He rushed for a 5A Southern Idaho Conference-best 1,986 yards and 22 touchdowns his senior year … Senior team was 7-3 and reached the state quarterfinals … Earned three letters in football, four in lacrosse, and one in wrestling … All-Idaho “Player of the Year” as a senior … First team all-state running back as a junior and senior … Freshman and junior lacrosse teams won state titles, and he was tabbed an All-American in that sport as a junior and senior … Team MVP and captain in football as a senior and junior; and outstanding wide receiver as a sophomore … Career stats: 2,918 rushing yards for 32 touchdowns, and 88 catches for 1,289 yards and 13 TDs, breaking 11 school records … Also earned a letter in wrestling … Team captain in football for head coach Judd Benedick.
PERSONAL: Buss is a marketing major. His parents are Kristi McCurry and Joe Buss of Meridian, Idaho.