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MISSOULA —  Montana linebacker Dante Olson was named a top-three finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award, given to the top defensive player in the FCS.

The award will be presented at the STATS FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation on Jan. 4 in Frisco, Texas, the day before the FCS national championship game.

Olson, an All-Big Sky first-team selection, broke the school’s single-season tackles record with 151 and averaged 13.7 tackles per game, the top mark in the nation. He added 11 tackles for loss, six sacks, five quarterback hurries, three forced fumbles, three pass breakups and two interceptions in 11 games.

"I had an incredible time playing football this season," Olson said in a news release. "It was a blast playing for a group of incredible coaches with awesome teammates. There is nothing like playing in Washington-Grizzly Stadium in front of the best fan base in the nation, and I am so blessed God allowed me to be a Griz."

The two other finalists are Southeast Missouri junior linebacker Zach Hall and Sam Houston State senior defensive end Derick Roberson.

Hall, the Ohio Valley Conference defensive player of the year, set the program’s single-season tackles record with 168 and added 12 tackles for loss, four interceptions, four forced fumbles, two sacks, two fumble recoveries, two pass breakups, one blocked kick, one defensive touchdown and one safety in 13 games.

Roberson, an All-Southland Conference first-team honoree, tied the school’s single sacks record with 15, and his average of 1.36 per game ranks second in the country. He forced five fumbles, tied for the second most in the country, and added 68 tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss, two pass breakups, one blocked kick and one safety in 11 games.

Results for fourth-place through 25th-place were released Tuesday. UC Davis linebacker Mason Moe was the only other Big Sky player among the 25 finalists and finished in 12th place.

Montana has had two players win the Buck Buchanan Award: defensive end Kroy Biermann in 2007 and defensive end Tyrone Holmes in 2015, the latter when the award was called the STATS FCS Defensive Player of the Year award. Holmes is also the most recent Big Sky Conference player to get the award.

Seven players from the Big Sky Conference have won the Buck Buchanan Award. The five non-Montanan players are Idaho State defensive end Jared Allen (2003), Eastern Washington defensive end Greg Peach (2008), Eastern Washington linebacker J.C. Sherritt (2010), Montana State defensive end Caleb Schreibeis (2012) and Montana State defensive end Brad Daly (2013).

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Frank Gogola covers Griz football and prep sports for the Missoulian. Follow him on Twitter @FrankGogola or email him at


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