Colton Underwood leads Illinois State and the Missouri Valley Football Conference in sacks (7.5) and tackles-for-loss (15.5) this season. (Photo courtesy GoRedbirds.com)
By WJBC Staff
PHILADELPHIA - Illinois State junior defensive end Colton Underwood has been named to The Sports Network's Buchanan Award Watch List which honors the outstanding defensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Underwood is the fifth Redbird player to be named to the prestigious list and the first since 2007, when linebacker Kye Stewart finished fourth overall in the voting. Illinois State Percy Family Hall of Fame member and former All-American linebacker Boomer Grigsby was a three-time finalist for the award from 2002-04, finishing as runner-up in 2003 to current Minnesota Vikings star Jared Allen. Defensive end Brent Hawkins and linebacker Cameron Siskowic were both finalists in 2005, finishing second and 13th respectively, and Siskowic finished fifth in the voiting the following year in 2006.
Underwood and Samford safety Jaquiski Tartt were added to the list and join 18 other FCS defensive standouts on this year's list. Other nominees on the Watch List are nose tackle Brent Russell of Georgia Southern; defensive ends Joseph LeBeau of Jackson State and Ben Obaseki of Indiana State; linebackers Matt Evans of New Hampshire, Wes Dothard of Chattanooga, Jeremy Kimbrough of Appalachian State, Robert McCabe of Georgetown, Blake Peiffer of Southeast Missouri State, Keith Pough of Howard, Derek Rose of Northwestern State, Tyler Starr of South Dakota and Jordan Tripp of Montana; cornerbacks Demetrius McCray of Appalachian State, B.W. Webb of William & Mary and Marcus Williams of North Dakota State; and safeties Kejuan Riley of Alabama State, Cooper Taylor of Richmond and Darnell Taylor of Sam Houston State.
This season's winner will join a list of Buchanan Award greats such as Dexter Coakley, Jared Allen, Rashean Mathis, Kroy Biermann and 2011 recipient Evans, who is trying to win for the second season in a row.
Illinois State head coach Brock Spack believes his standout defensive end's addition to the list is well deserved.
"Colton is having a great year and has made a lot of impact plays for our defense," Spack said. "He's affected the ways opposing offenses look at attacking our defense because of the things he can do off the end or when he moves inside in certain looks up front. When you lead this conference in sacks and tackles-for-loss and are in the top 10 in both categories nationally like Colton is, it shows just how dominant of a player he has become. We just hope he finishes the season as strong as he's started it."
Underwood is a three-year starter on defense for the Redbirds and has become one of the top defenders in the Missouri Valley Football Conference this year. The Washington, Ill., native leads Illinois State and the MVFC in sacks (7.5) and tackles-for-loss (15.5) through eight games and ranks No. 2 in tackles-for-loss per game (1.94) and No. 8 in sacks per game (.94) on the NCAA FCS national player rankings. He also ranks second on the team with 72 tackles and has added seven quarterback hurries and a blocked kick in 2012.
All award will be presented on Dec. 17 at the FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation in Philadelphia.