(Editor’s note: story by Griz communications)
MISSOULA – Following two of the best individual seasons in all of college football, Montana defenders Dante Olson and Robby Hauck were named finalists for the STATS FCS national player of the year awards on Monday.
Olson was named as one of 25 finalists for the Buck Buchanan Award that goes to the nation’s top defensive player. Hauck was named one of 20 finalists for the Jerry Rice Award for the top freshman player in FCS football.
Olson finished his junior season with 151 total tackles, the most in FCS and FBS football. He shattered the Montana single-season school record by more than 20 tackles and finished the year just 26-shy of breaking the Big Sky record, despite not playing in the postseason.
Olson also finished the season ranked second in the Big Sky in forced fumbles (three), fourth in the league in sacks (6 overall, 5.5/game), and eighth in tackles for loss (11 overall, 1/game).
The Medford, Oregon, native was named ROOT Sports Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week three times in the first five weeks of the season, and the STATS FCS National Defensive Player of the Week following the Sept. 8 game against Drake where he recorded 16 tackles, two sacks, 3.5 TFLs, a forced fumble, and a pass breakup.
He was also one tackle away from tying the UM single-game tackle record at Cal Poly, putting in 24 stops against the Mustangs, and totaled 10 tackles or more in nine of 11 games this year.
At the Grizzlies’ season awards banquet on Sunday, Olson was named the team’s Defensive MVP, as voted by the coaching staff. He also earned the Steve Carlson Most Valuable Player award for the teams’ overall top performer, as voted by the players.
Hauck was Montana’s second-leading tackler in 2018, putting a total of 95 stops, and also recorded 2.5 TFLs and four pass breakups.
His 95 takedowns are the most by any freshman in FCS or FBS football, and put him at No. 5 in the Big Sky Conference in overall tackles – the only freshman amongst the top-30 tacklers in the league.
Not only is Olson productive on the field, he carries a 3.87 GPA in the classroom as a business management major, spends free time volunteering as a pen-pal with a group of underprivileged third graders in Northern California, and is an active member of his church.
Hauck had four games with double-digit tackles and recorded a career-high 17 at Cal Poly as well. At the team awards banquet, he was named one of two recipients of the “Golden Helmet Award” that goes to the team’ hardest hitter.
Montana has had 11 previous finalists for the Buck Buchanan Award since 2000, including two winners: Kroy Biermann (2007) and Tyrone Holmes (2015 – then called the STATS FCS Defensive Player of the Year).
The Grizzlies have also had two finalists for the Jerry Rice Award in the previous two seasons. Jerry Louie-McGee finished seventh in the voting in 2016, and Gresch Jensen finished third on the ballot in 2017.
Voting for the 2018 STATS FCS legacy awards began on Monday. A national panel of over 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries will select the winners. Voting is based on the regular season.
All four awards plus the STATS FCS Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete of the Year will be celebrated at the STATS FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation, scheduled for Jan. 4 in Frisco, Texas, on the eve of the national championship game.
2018 STATS FCS AWARDS FINALISTS
WALTER PAYTON AWARD
FCS Offensive Player of the Year – 25 Finalists
Tyrie Adams, QB, Jr. – Western Carolina
Michael Bandy, WR, Jr. – San Diego
Chandler Burks, QB, Sr. – Kennesaw State
Taryn Christion, QB, Sr. – South Dakota State
Ra’Quanne Dickens, RB, Sr. – Incarnate Word
Keelan Doss, WR, Sr. – UC Davis
Tom Flacco, QB, Jr. – Towson
Ryan Fulse, RB, Sr. – Wagner
A.J. Hines, RB, Jr. – Duquesne
Devlin Hodges, QB, Sr. – Samford
James Holland Jr., RB, Sr. – Colgate
Alexander Hollins, WR, Sr. – Eastern Illinois
Noah Johnson, QB, Jr. – Alcorn State
Anthony Lawrence, QB, Sr. – San Diego
John Lovett, QB, Sr. – Princeton
Jake Maier, QB, Jr. – UC Davis
Kelvin McKnight, WR, Sr. – Samford
Caylin Newton, QB, So. – Howard
Donald Parham, TE, Sr. – Stetson
Josh Pearson, WR, Jr. – Jacksonville State
Joe Protheroe, FB, Sr. – Cal Poly
James Robinson, RB, Jr. – Illinois State
Easton Stick, QB, Sr. – North Dakota State
Marquis Terry, RB, Sr. – Southeast Missouri
Reggie White Jr., WR, Sr. – Monmouth
BUCK BUCHANAN AWARD
FCS Defensive Player of the Year – 25 Finalists
Nasir Adderley, S, Sr. – Delaware
B.J. Blunt, LB, Sr. – McNeese
De’Arius Christmas, LB, Sr. – Grambling State
Thomas Costigan, LB, Sr. – Bryant
Jabril Cox, LB, So. – North Dakota State
Cam Gill, LB, Jr. – Wagner
Ahmad Gooden, DE, Sr. – Samford
Anthony Gore Jr., LB, Sr. – Kennesaw State
Darin Greenfield, DE, Jr. – South Dakota
Robbie Grimsley, S, Sr. – North Dakota State
Zach Hall, LB, Jr. – Southeast Missouri
Darryl Johnson Jr., DE, Jr. – North Carolina A&T
Isaiah Mack, DT, Sr. – Chattanooga, DT
Nick Miller, LB, Sr. – Penn
Mason Moe, LB, Sr. – UC Davis
Jimmy Moreland, CB, Sr. – James Madison
Dante Olson, LB, Jr. – Montana
Nasir Player, DL, Jr. – ETSU
Troy Reeder, LB, Sr. – Delaware
Derick Roberson, LB, Sr. – Sam Houston State
Khalen Saunders, DT, Sr. – Western Illinois
Sterling Sheffield, LB, Sr. – Maine
Isiah Swann, CB, Jr. – Dartmouth
Will Warner, S, Jr. – Drake
Nick Wheeler, LB, Jr. – Colgate
JERRY RICE AWARD
FCS Freshman Player of the Year – 20 Finalists
Christian Benford, CB – Villanova
Ty Brock, QB – Sam Houston State
Julius Chestnut, RB – Sacred Heart
Jack Cook, QB – Dayton
Jon Copeland, QB – UIW
Josh Davis, RB – Weber State
Mohammed Diakite, CB, Penn
Andrew Edgar, WR – Illinois State
Juwon Farri, RB – Monmouth
Bailey Fisher, QB – Tennessee Tech
Ulonzo Gilliam, RB – UC Davis
Malik Hamm, DE – Lafayette
Robby Hauck, S – Montana
Quay Holmes, RB – ETSU
Adrian Hope, LB – Furman
Noah Larson, LB – North Dakota
Skyler Perry, QB – Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Xavier Smith, WR – Florida A&M
Caleb Snead, WR – Campbell
Jareem Westcott, RB – Stetson
EDDIE ROBINSON AWARD
FCS Coach of the Year – 15 Finalists
Brian Bohannon – Kennesaw State
Joe Harasymiak – Maine
Dan Hawkins – UC Davis
Roger Hughes – Stetson
Dan Hunt – Colgate
Chris Klieman – North Dakota State
Dale Lindsey – San Diego
Curt Mallory, Indiana State
Tom Matukewicz – Southeast Missouri
Fred McNair – Alcorn State
Eric Morris – UIW
Randy Sanders – ETSU
Jerry Schmitt – Duquesne
Bob Surace – Princeton
Sam Washington – North Carolina A&T