The finalists for the 2021 Stats Perform Buck Buchanan Award were released on Wednesday, and the Treasure State is well-represented.
Montana State's Troy Andersen, Montana's Patrick O'Connell and Florida A&M's Isaiah Land are the remaining finalists for the Buchanan Award, which is given annually to the best defensive player in Division I FCS. The trio of linebackers will be invited to the announcement ceremony on Jan. 7 at the FCS National Awards Banquet in Frisco, Texas.
Andersen, a Dillon graduate, was named the Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Year after tallying 111 tackles during the regular season, including 57 solos, with 9.5 tackles-for-loss and two sacks. He intercepted two passes, returning one for a touchdown, and broke up seven others. Andersen also recovered a fumble and hurried the quarterback once.
O'Connell, who graduated from Kalispell Glacier, was first-team all-Big Sky this season after totaling 91 tackles, including 40 solos, with a conference-high 13 sacks as well as 19.5 tackles for 121 yards in losses. He had five QB hurries, three forced fumbles and one fumble return for a touchdown.
Montana cornerback Justin Ford, who leads all of Division I with nine interceptions (eight in the regular season), finished fourth in the voting.