MISSOULA — Montana linebacker Dante Olson and safety Robby Hauck were named finalists for national awards on Monday.
Olson was announced as a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award, presented annually to the FCS defensive player of the year. Hauck was named a finalist for the Jerry Rice Award, presented annually to the FCS freshman player of the year.
"To have two finalists for national player of the year awards, the freshman and the defensive player of the year award, is certainly a great thing for our team and our program," Montana head coach Bobby Hauck said. "It shows these guys had a nice year with some help from their teammates. Obviously, you don’t ever accomplish anything on the field alone, but it always is a positive when you have people being recognized.
"A good year by these guys. I know that both of them would trade any type of personal accolade for one more win on our schedule. But, good job by these guys.
Olson finished the season with 151 total tackles, the most in the FBS or FCS, breaking the school's single-season record of 130. The 6-foot-3, 237-pound junior from Medford, Oregon, ranked second in the conference with three forced fumbles, fourth with six sacks and eighth with 11 tackles for loss.
Olson is one of 25 finalists for the award. One other player from the Big Sky Conference made the list: UC Davis linebacker Mason Moe. There's one other player who Montana played who made the list: Western Illinois defensive tackle Khalen Saunders.
"That’s awesome," Olson said of making the list. "It’s truly an honor. Like I’ve said before, it’s a blessing from God. Take a few days to reflect on the season and what we accomplished as a group. Coming back on Monday, we’ll get started gearing up for next season."
Robby Hauck, who transferred from Northern Arizona and wasn't cleared by the NCAA until the summer, finished the season with 95 total tackles, tops among FCS freshmen. His 8.6 tackles per game rank 45th in the FCS and third among freshmen. The 5-foot-10, 179-pound redshirt freshman added 2.5 tackles for loss and four pass breakups.
Hauck is one of 20 finalists for the award. Two other players from the Big Sky Conference made the list: Weber State running back Josh Davis and UC Davis running back Ulonzo Gilliam. There's one other player who Montana played who made the list: North Dakota linebacker Noah Larson.
"Obviously, it’s an honor to represent my team and this university," Hauck said. "It’s the same sort of thing both these guys have said is I’ll take some time to reflect on the season and what I can do to improve. I’m looking forward to get rolling into the offseason and just improve what we need to improve. But, yeah, it’s an honor."
The other finalists for the Buck Buchanan award are Delaware safety Nasir Adderley, McNeese linebacker B.J. Blunt, Grambling State linebacker De'Arius Christmas, Bryant linebacker Thomas Costigan, North Dakota State linebacker Jabril Cox, Wagner linebacker Cam Gill, Samford defensive end Ahmad Gooden, Kennesaw State linebacker Anthony Gore, South Dakota defensive end Darin Greenfield, North Dakota State safety Robbie Grimsley, Southeast Missouri linebacker Zach Hall, North Carolina A&T defensive end Darryl Johnson, Chattanooga defensive tackle Isaiah Mack, Penn linebacker Nick Miller, James Madison cornerback Jimmy Moreland, East Tennessee State defensive lineman Nasir Player, Delaware linebacker Troy Reeder, Sam Houston State linebacker Derick Roberson, Maine linebacker Sterling Sheffield, Dartmouth cornerback Isiah Swann, Drake safety Will Warner, Colgate linebacker Nick Wheeler.
The other finalists for the Jerry Rice Award are Villanova cornerback Christian Benford, Sam Houston State quarterback Ty Brock, Sacred Heart running back Julius Chestnut, Dayton quarterback Jack Cook, Incarnate Word quarterback Jon Copeland, Penn cornerback Mohammed Diakite, Illinois State wide receiver Andrew Edgar, Monmouth running back Juwon Farri, Tennessee Tech quarterback Bailey Fisher, Lafayette defensive end Malik Hamm, East Tennessee State running back Quay Holmes, Furman linebacker Adrian Hope, Arkansas-Pine Bluff quarterback Skyler Perry, Florida A&M wide receiver Xavier Smith, Campbell wide receiver Caleb Snead, Stetson running back Jareem Westcott.