Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - As the FCS season draws to a close, the outstanding individual and team accomplishments stand out.
Being a leader on a stellar defense goes a long way, and there are certainly plenty of players to be recognized this season. Norfolk State's Lynden Trail, William & Mary's Jerome Couplin III and Marist's Terrence Fede stand out for their play and leadership roles on what have proven to be dominant defenses.
The three players lead by example, and on Friday they were nominated to the Buck Buchanan Award Watch List. The 19th annual award is presented by The Sports Network to the outstanding defensive player in the FCS.
Trail, a redshirt junior who is in his second season at Norfolk State after transferring from the University of Florida, is a 6-foot-7 physical specimen on the Spartans' defensive line and at outside linebacker and tight end. He ranks third on the team with 70 tackles and 10.5 tackles for loss, and second in sacks with 6.5.
What is even more impressive than his pass rushing stats is his ability to drop back into pass coverage. Trail leads Norfolk State's defense with eight pass breakups and four forced fumbles. He also has two fumble recoveries, two interceptions and a blocked kick this year.
Couplin, a 6-2 senior, leads a very talented William & Mary defense in tackles with 88. As a group, the Tribe lead the FCS in scoring defense, allowing just 12.2 points per game to opponents. The Tribe also are sixth in the nation in total defense, allowing 294.2 yards per game.
Couplin is tied for sixth in the CAA in total tackles, and is tied for first on his team with two forced fumbles. He also has 2.5 tackles for loss, a fumble recovery and four pass breakups.
Fede, a 6-5 senior defensive end, leads his Marist team in tackles for loss (17), sacks (12) and quarterback hurries (12), and is third on the team in total tackles (53). He is one of just two players in the FCS who has recorded double-digit sacks this season. Montana State's Brad Daly, a Buchanan Award candidate, is the other.
The third-year starter is second in the nation with 1.2 sacks per game, and he has recorded at least half a sack in eight of his 10 games. Fede also is second in the country in tackles for loss behind Daly.
The Red Foxes rank second in the Pioneer Football League in total defense, allowing 356.4 yards per game to opponents, and second in scoring defense, giving up 21.9 points per game.
Other nominees on the Buchanan Award Watch List are: defensive linemen Brad Daly of Montana State, Zach Hodges of Harvard, Caraun Reid of Princeton, Robert Simpson of Mississippi Valley State, Davis Tull of Chattanooga and Colton Underwood of Illinois State; linebackers Quinn Backus of Coastal Carolina, Clarence Bumpus of Northern Colorado, Ronnie Hamlin of Eastern Washington, Stephon Robertson of James Madison, Alvin Scioneaux of Wofford, Justin Shade of Samford, Tyler Starr of South Dakota, Joe Thomas of South Carolina State and Jordan Tripp of Montana; and defensive backs Caleb Schaffitzel of Missouri State and Marcus Williams of North Dakota State.
Bios of all 20 players can be found at http://tinyurl.com/yhv6oh8.
Other players considered for the Buchanan Award Watch List: North Dakota State linebacker Grant Olson, Villanova defensive tackle Antoine Lewis, Tennessee State cornerback Stephen Godbolt III, Gardner-Webb defensive end Shaquille Riddick, Montana defensive end Zack Wagenmann, Towson linebacker Telvion Clark, Tennessee State safety Daniel Fitzpatrick and Fordham linebacker Stephen Hoge.
The Buchanan Award Watch List can undergo revision during the season. Ballots will be sent to a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries following the regular season. The winner will be invited to The Sports Network FCS Awards Presentation Dec. 16 in Philadelphia.
The Sports Network also presents the Walter Payton, Jerry Rice and Eddie Robinson awards. The Payton Award honors the outstanding player in the FCS, the Rice Award goes to the FCS freshman of the year and the Robinson Award honors the FCS coach of the year. The top three vote-getters for the Payton Award as well as the winners of Rice and Robinson awards also will be invited to the national banquet.