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Four more Buchanan Award candidates announced by Sports Network
UNI’s Ruffin heads up latest group of Buchanan candidates
Missouri Valley Football Conference defensive player of the year James Ruffin is among the four latest candidates added to the watch list for the Buck Buchanan Award, presented annually to the top defensive player in FCS.
Ruffin racked up 18 tackles for loss (first in conference), 10 sacks, 69 tackles, and three forced fumbles for the Panthers last year, en route to All- America and All-MVFC honors.
Other players added to the list were Richmond cornerback Justin Rogers, Youngstown State defensive tackle Mychal Savage and William & Mary defensive end Adrian Tracy.
The four new candidates were added to a list that already includes Central Arkansas defensive end Larry Hart, defensive end Christian Anthony of Grambling, defensive end Danny Batten of South Dakota State, strong safety Tommy Connors of Southeastern Louisiana, defensive end Dane Fletcher of Montana State, Delaware free safety Charles Graves, Southern Illinois linebacker Brandin Jordan, Murray State defensive end Austen Lane, Appalachian State free safety Mark LeGree, Massachusetts strong safety Jeromy Miles, Weber State cornerback Josh Morris and Villanova linebacker Osayi Osunde.
A total of 20 candidates will be announced in alphabetical order prior to the start of the season, with four candidates being released each week. The watch list will be revised in October and again in November, before the final ballot is announced.
Voting from a panel of FCS sports information directors, writers, broadcasters and other football experts will be conducted after the regular season ends. Three finalists will be announced on Nov. 30 and will be invited to the 23rd annual Sports Network Awards banquet on Dec. 17 in Chattanooga, TN., the night before the NCAA Division I championship game. The Walter Payton Award and the Eddie Robinson Award will also be presented that night.
Here are biographies of the four newly-named players to the Buchanan watch list:
Justin Rogers, Richmond, Junior, 5-10, 181, Cornerback, Baton Rouge, LA
Rogers, an All-American and All-CAA selection, had a breakthrough campaign in 2008, helping Richmond win a national championship. His seven interceptions were the second-most in school history. Rogers returned two of the pick-offs for touchdowns and returned a fumble recovery for another score. He tallied 13 pass breakups, including four in a 23-20 win over William & Mary, and had 55 tackles overall. In a quarterfinal playoff win over three-time defending national champion Appalachian State, Rogers registered six tackles, an interception and three pass breakups. In 2007, he returned two kickoffs for scores, averaging 30.4 yards per return (third nationally) and intercepted two passes. In two years as a starter, Rogers has 79 tackles, seven interceptions, five TDs (two kickoffs), 15 pass breakups and a 25.4 kickoff return average.
James Ruffin, Northern Iowa, Senior, 6-4, 263, Defensive End, Burnsville, MN
Ruffin has been a mainstay at Northern Iowa since his freshman season. In 2008, as mentioned, the All-American and first team All-MVFC selection amassed a Missouri Valley-best 18 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, 69 tackles, and three forced fumbles. He recorded a career-high eight tackles in an FCS semifinal game against eventual national champion Richmond. As a sophomore, he tallied 7.5 tackles for loss and 52 tackles to earn All-MVFC honors. During his freshman campaign, Ruffin fought his way onto the MVFC all-newcomer team while registering 26 tackles, three for loss and three pass breakups. In his first three seasons at Northern Iowa, Ruffin has 147 tackles, 28.5 for loss, 13.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.
Mychal Savage, Youngstown State, Senior, 6-2, 305, Defensive Tackle, Hartsdale, NY
Savage has established himself as one of the top defensive tackles in FCS during an outstanding college career. In 2007, the All-American and first team All-Missouri Valley selection racked up 43 tackles, five for loss, five sacks and three QB hurries. He appeared in the 2008 opener against Ohio State and suffered a season-ending shoulder injury allowing him to garner a medical redshirt for this year. As a sophomore, the All-Gateway performer picked up 44 tackles, 5.5 for loss and three sacks. In 2005, the All-Gateway newcomer had 19 tackles and two QB hurries in 10 games. The 2009 preseason All-American has 116 tackles, 12.5 for loss, eight sacks and five QB hurries in his first three collegiate seasons. Savage had a career-high 12 stops in a 31-24 win over Western Illinois during his junior campaign, also notching six stops against FBS powerhouse Ohio State.
Adrian Tracy, William & Mary, Senior, 6-4, 244, Defensive End, Sterling, VA
Tracy established himself as a top-tier pass rusher in 2008, picking up 10 sacks to rank sixth in FCS. The All-American and first team All-CAA selection also led the league with 15.5 tackles for loss and added 72 tackles. He had a career-high 13 tackles in a 38-34 win over New Hampshire and blocked a kick in a 42-12 win over Norfolk State. In 2007, Tracy totaled 63 tackles and led the team with three sacks. As a freshman, the Sterling, VA native picked up 70 tackles, second among all Atlantic 10 rookies, 15.5 for loss and six sacks. Tracy has 205 tackles, 40.5 for loss (11th nationally among active players), 19 sacks (10th among active players) and seven QB hurries.
By The Sports Network/David Coulson