Fordham's Hodge Placed on Buck Buchanan Award Watch List

Fordham's Stephen Hodge

July 10, 2014

Buck Buchanan Award candidates

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - Fordham senior linebacker Stephen Hodge earned a spot among the top defensive players in the FCS when he was placed on the Buck Buchanan Award Watch List by The Sports Network on Thursday.

Hodge becomes the third Ram to make a watch list for one of the major FCS awards, as quarterback Mike Nebrich and wide receiver Sam Ajala were named as candidates for the Walter Payton Award (FCS Most Outstanding Player) on Monday. Fordham matches Eastern Washington for the most overall award candidates with three, and is one of eight schools with a candidate on both lists.

It's no surprise to see Hodge as a candidate for the award given to the Top Defensive Player in the FCS after the senior was named a Preseason First-Team All-American by The Sports Network last week. Hodge comes off a season where he was named the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year, a third-team All-American by The Sports Network and an ECAC FCS All-Star.

Hodge led the Fordham defense in 2013 while finishing with 124 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, five sacks, five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and an interception. He tied for the national lead in forced fumbles and also paced all FCS players with 94 solo tackles.

The Buchanan Award will celebrate its 20th anniversary this season and be presented by The Sports Network at the FCS national awards banquet on Dec. 15. Players who finished on the final ballot in 2013 and return this season include Coastal Carolina linebacker Quinn Backus (7th), Norfolk State linebacker Lynden Trail (8th), Eastern Washington linebacker Ronnie Hamlin (12th), Chattanooga defensive end Davis Tull (13th), Missouri State safety Caleb Schaffitzel (15th) and Harvard defensive end Zach Hodges (16th) Each is a senior this season.

Also nominated to the Watch List were defensive tackles O.J. Mau of Gardner- Webb and Troy Moore of Sacred Heart, defensive ends Mike Reilly of William & Mary, Jonathan Woodard of Central Arkansas, James Cowser of Southern Utah and Zack Wagenmann of Montana, linebacker Tony Bell of UT Martin, cornerbacks Harlan Miller of Southeastern Louisiana and Tye Smith of Towson, and safeties Daniel Fitzpatrick of Tennessee State, Jacob Hagen of Liberty, Colten Heagle of North Dakota State and Jaquiski Tartt of Samford. Each is a senior except Mau, Cowser, Miller and Woodard, who are juniors. The list breaks down to six defensive ends, five linebackers, five safeties, two defensive tackles and two cornerbacks.

The Buck Buchanan Award Watch List can undergo revision during the 2014 season. Ballots will be sent to a national panel of over 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries following the regular season.

While no Patriot Leaguers made the final Buck Buchanan Award ballot last season, Georgetown's Andrew Schaetzke (2011) and Robert McCabe (2012) were both fourth-place finishers in the voting in recent years.

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 is bestowed upon the FCS coach of the year.

Patriot Leaguers have won major FCS awards five times. Colgate running backs Kenny Gamble (1987) and Jamaal Branch (2003) claimed Walter Payton Awards, while Holy Cross' Mark Duffner (1987), Lafayette's Bill Russo (1988) and Lehigh's Pete Lembo (2001) are Eddie Robinson Award winners.

Read the full release from The Sports Network here, with more information on the Buck Buchanan Award candidates here