|Head coach Sean McDonnell and Matt Evans at 2011 Buck Buchanan Award presentation|
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PHILADELPHIA – University of New Hampshire senior co-captain Matt Evans (Hanover, Mass.) headlines the list of 20 players on the 2012 Buck Buchanan Award Watch List, the Sports Network announced Thursday.
Evans, the reigning Buck Buchanan Award winner as the 2011 FCS national defensive player of the year, has the opportunity to become only the second two-time recipient in the 18-year history of the honor. The Hanover, Mass., native enters this season with 334 career tackles, the fifth most in UNH history and just 100 shy of all-time leader Steve Doig (1978-81).
In 2011, Evans led the country with 7.67 solo tackles/game and ranked second nationally with 165 total stops, the second-most in UNH single-season history. He tallied 10 double-digit tackle performances, notched three interceptions- two of which he returned for touchdowns as part of his 102 INT-return yards- paced the Wildcats with three forced fumbles and ranked second on the squad with 7.5 tackles for loss.
The 6-foot, 226-pound middle linebacker's preseason accolades include Phil Steele's Preseason CAA Defensive Player of the Year, All-America First Team and All-CAA First Team, in addition to being ranked the No. 2 MLB in the nation by the publication. He also was tabbed as a member of The Sports Network Preseason All-America First Team and the Beyond Sports Network Preseason All-American Team.
During his record-setting junior campaign, Evans was feted as a Walter Camp Football Foundation All-American; Phil Steele's All-America First Team; The Sports Network/Fathead.com All-America; College Sports Madness All-American; CFPA Elite Linebacker Award; BSN National Defensive Player of the Year; Gold Helmet Award as New England's FCS player of the year; A.P. All-America Second Team; All-CAA First Team; All-New England Team; and he received the CAA Commissioner's Academic Award.
The Buchanan Award Watch List can undergo revision during the 2012 season. Ballots will be sent to a panel of about 175 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries following the regular season Nov. 19. The top three vote-getters will be invited to The Sports Network FCS Awards Presentation in Frisco, Texas.
Former Dallas Cowboy and St. Louis Ram linebacker Dexter Coakley is the only two-time Buck Buchanan Award recipient. During his college career at Appalachian State, Coakley won the inaugural honor in 1995 before claiming the award again a year later.
The Sports Network also presents the Walter Payton, Jerry Rice and Eddie Robinson awards. The Payton Award honors the FCS player of the year, the Rice Award goes to the FCS freshman of the year and the Robinson Award honors the FCS coach of the year. For more information, visit www.sportsnetwork.com.
The UNH football team opens its season Thursday, Aug. 30, at Holy Cross. Opening kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Season tickets and individual game tickets are on sale now by calling (603) 862-4000, extension 5, or by visiting the all-new www.unhwildcats.com.
Cover photo of Matt Evans and Georgia Buchanan, widow of Buck Buchanan, at 2011 Buck Buchanan Award presentation