PHILADELPHIA – University of Montana linebacker Jordan Tripp is one of three players who was added to The Sports Network’s 2012 Buck Buchanan Award Watch List (Football Championship Subdivision’s “Defensive Player of the Year”), the organization announced today.
Joining Tripp on the list were linebacker Robert McCabe of Georgetown and safety Cooper Taylor of Richmond.
This season’s winner will join a list of Buchanan Award greats such as Dexter Coakley, Jared Allen, Rashean Mathis, (former Griz defensive end) Kroy Biermann and the 2011 recipient, New Hampshire linebacker Matt Evans, who is trying to win for the second season in a row.
Tripp, a 6-3 ½, 244-pound junior, has team-highs of 52 tackles, 5.5 stops for losses, and 2 forced fumbles. He is tied for 25th in the FCS with 10.4 tackles a game.
“I am very happy for Jordan – he deserves it,” said Griz defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Ty Gregorak. “He’s played very well over the last month. He’s a very sideline-to-sideline player, probably the best sideline-to-sideline player I’ve got to coach here (2003-2009 and 2011-12). I know there are a lot of good players on that list, and he has another year to play for us.
“As you and I were just talking, I am more concerned about going to Northern Colorado and playing well this Saturday and getting our first win in three weeks,” Gregorak said. “But, that being said, our defense goes as Jordan goes, and he’s been playing very well and made a lot of plays for us this fall and he’ll continue to make more.”
Tripp is a third-generation Montana player and a linebacker like his father Bryan, a starter at UM in 1989-90. His grandfather, Gene (Junior) Tripp played for the Griz in 1963-64. Following a 2011 season which was cut short by a shoulder injury, Tripp has come back strong, and has had 10 or more tackles in three of five games this year.
“That’s a tribute to how hard Jordan has worked over the last year, having to sit out last season because of the injury to his shoulder,” said Griz head coach Mick Delaney. “That hard work made him about as physical as he can be. He gained 15, 16 pounds because he worked so hard in the weight room, and got on a good nutrition program, and worked on his speed and flexibility. This situation is very, very well deserved, and he’s worked hard to get there. Now he’s just got to get better every week, and I am sure that he will be in the hunt.
“He’s outspoken, but in a positive way, and he leads by how hard he works and plays,” Delaney said. “He’s just a tremendous young man both on and off the field.”
McCabe, a 6-foot-2, 234-pound senior, ended September with an FCS-best 13.6 tackles per game, including double-digits in all five Georgetown games. He was the Patriot League’s preseason defensive player of the year.
Taylor, a 6-5, 235-pound senior, is the biggest of the three players despite being a safety. The second-year transfer from Georgia Tech has intercepted three passes in the last four games, scoring a touchdown on one return.
Other nominees on the Buchanan Watch List are nose tackle Brent Russell of Georgia Southern; defensive
ends Willie Jefferson of Stephen F. Austin, Joseph LeBeau of Jackson State and Ben Obaseki of Indiana State;
linebackers Evans, Clarence Bumpas of Northern Colorado, Wes Dothard of Chattanooga, Jeremy Kimbrough of
Appalachian State, Blake Peiffer of Southeast Missouri State, Keith Pough of Howard, Derek Rose of Northwestern State and Tyler Starr of South Dakota; cornerbacks Demetrius McCray of Appalachian State, B.W. Webb of William & Mary and Marcus Williams of FCS champion North Dakota State; and safeties Kejuan Riley of Alabama State and Darnell Taylor of Sam Houston State.
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 on Nov. 19.
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.
– UM Sports Information