MISSOULA — Three Montana Grizzlies have been named to the watch list for the top defensive honor in the FCS.
UM linebacker Patrick O'Connell, cornerback Justin Ford and safety Robby Hauck have all been named to the Buck Buchanan preseason watch list, Stats Perform announced on Thursday.
O'Connell was a finalist for the Buck last year where he finished third in voting. Ford finished in fourth last year as well. All three players were first-team All-Big Sky last season for the Grizzlies.
O'Connell, a Kalispell Glacier grad, was named the Big Sky Conference preseason Defensive Player of the Year at the Big Sky Kickoff. O'Connell finished last season with 105 total tackles, 22 for loss, 14 sacks, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Ford led all of Division I football with nine interceptions last year for the Grizzlies. Ford also finished the year with 41 total tackles, 20 passes defended, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries along with three defensive touchdowns.
Hauck is on the cusp of breaking the all-time tackles record at UM. He currently has 364 tackles, just behind Dante Olson's record of 397. Last season, Hauck racked up 128 total tackles, seven for loss, three forced fumbles and one sack.
Stats Perform also released their preseason All-American teams on Monday with O'Connell, Ford and Hauck all earning those honors.
In total, five players from the Big Sky Conference were named to the preseason watch list. Northern Colorado's David Hoage and Portland State's Anthony Adams join the Griz trio as the five honorees.
North Dakota State and Montana were the only schools with multiple players selected. NDSU also had three players named to the watch list.