Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – Arkansas-Pine Bluff defensive lineman Brandon Thurmond joined the Buck Buchanan Award Watch List on Wednesday in the race for the 18th annual award which honors the outstanding defensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision.
This season’s winner will join a list of Buchanan Award greats such as Dexter Coakley, Jared Allen, Rashean Mathis, Kroy Biermann and the 2011 recipient, New Hampshire linebacker Matt Evans, who is a nominee again trying to win for the second season in a row.
Thurmond, a 6-2, 260-pound senior, has flipped the switch in his final season at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, turning into one of the FCS’ most productive and dangerous pass rushers. Just one year ago, he had 25 tackles, seven tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, one forced fumble and five quarterback hurries. In 10 games this season, he’s improved in every category, with 56 tackles, 22 tackles for loss, 15.5 sacks, and seven quarterback hurries. He also has three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one blocked kick. He leads the nation in total sacks and sacks per game.
Thanks to the impact of Thurmond, and an improved UAPB defense, the Golden Lions rank first in the SWAC in allowing 16 points per game and second in total defense with 290 yards per contest. UAPB has clinched a berth in the SWAC Championship Game next month.
The Buchanan Award will be voted on by a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries following the regular season.
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.
All four awards will be presented on Dec. 17 at the FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation in Philadelphia.