Villanova linebacker Don Cherry, last year’s runner-up for the Buck Buchanan Award winner as the FCS Defensive Player of the Year, is one of 22 players on the watch list for this year’s award, renamed the STATS FCS Defensive Player of the Year.
Cherry, a first-team All-American, had 134 tackles last season, including 21.5 for loss, and 10 sacks with five forced fumbles, four pass breakups and one interception in 14 games. He helped the Wildcats reach the FCS Tournament quarterfinals, where he tied his career high with 16 tackles against Sam Houston State.
Cherry, Gardner-Webb nose guard O.J. Mau and Central Arkansas defensive end Jonathan Woodard — finalists for the award last year — are among 12 players from ASN-affiliated schools on the list.
CAA Football has the most nominees with four — Cherry; defensive end Victor Ochi of Stony Brook; linebacker Luke Rhodes of William & Mary; and cornerback Casey DeAndrade of New Hampshire.