LAKE CHARLES – McNeese State senior free safety Malcolm Bronson, who is vying to become just the sixth player in Southland Conference history to garner first team all-SLC postseason honors four straight seasons, has been named to the 2012 Buck Buchanan Award watch list as the Football Championship Subdivisions top defensive player released by The Sports Network on Thursday .
Bronson, a member of The Sports Network preseason all-America team, joins 2011 finalist Derek Rose of Northwestern State, Darnell Taylor of Sam Houston State and Willie Jefferson of Stephen F. Austin as the Southland Conference makes up nearly a quarter of the watch list of 20 defensive standouts.
The Buck Buchanan Award is awarded annually to the most outstanding defensive player in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) of college football, and was first given in 1995 after the Walter Payton Award was designated solely for offensive players.
Already a three-time All-Southland Conference first-team selection, Bronson, a Jasper, Texas native, possesses excellent speed and cover skills. He led the Cowboys with 90 tackles a year ago and had three pass interceptions, one that was returned for a touchdown in the season finale at Lamar. He also forced three fumbles and recovered one.
His uncle, Zach Bronson, was a free safety in the NFL from 1997-2004 and was a four-time first team all-SLC selection – one of just five in the history of the conference to garner the honor four straight years.
The list includes six players who were finalists a year ago, including 2011 winner Matt Evans of New Hampshire. Evans has the opportunity to become only the second two-time winner of the award in the 18-year history.
The other 2011 finalists returning to the Watch List are Georgia Southern nose tackle Brent Russell, Indiana State defensive end Ben Obaseki, Howard outside linebacker Keith Pough, Northwestern State inside linebacker Derek Rose and Alabama State safety Kejuan Riley.
This season's winner will join a list of Buchanan Award greats such as Dexter Coakley, Jared Allen, Rashean Mathis and Kroy Biermann. Coakley, the original Buchanan recipient in 1995, won again a year later and remains the only two- time winner of the award.
The Buchanan Award Watch List can undergo revision during the 2012 season. Ballots will be sent to a panel of about 175 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries following the regular season on Nov. 19. The top three vote-getters will be invited to The Sports Network FCS Awards Presentation.
The trophy was named in honor of the late National Football League (NFL) player Junious "Buck" Buchanan, who starred at Grambling State University. Buchanan was an All-American defensive lineman and the first overall pick in the 1963 American Football League (AFL) Draft by the Kansas city Chiefs.
The Sports Network also presents the Walter Payton, Jerry Rice and Eddie Robinson awards. The Payton Award honors the FCS player of the year, the Rice Award goes to the FCS freshman of the year and the Robinson Award honors the FCS coach of the year.
2012 Buck Buchanan Award Watch List
Malcolm Bronson, Sr., FS, McNeese State
Clarance Bumpas, Jr., LB, Northern Colorado
Wes Dothard, Jr., LB, Chattanooga
Matt Evans, Sr., LB, New Hampshire
Willie Jefferson, Sr., DE, Stephen F. Austin
Jeremy Kimbrough, Sr., LB, Appalachian State
Joseph LeBeau, Sr., DE, Jackson State
Demetrius McCray, Sr., CB, Appalachian State
Zach Minter, Sr., DT, Montana State
Ben Obaseki, Sr., DE, Indiana State
Blake Oliaro, Jr., DE, San Diego
Blake Peiffer, Sr., LB, Southeast Missouri State
Keith Pough, Sr., LB, Howard
Kejuan Riley, Sr., FS, Alabama State
Derek Rose, Sr., LB, Northwestern State
Brent Russell, Sr., NT, Georgia Southern
Tyler Starr, Jr., LB, South Dakota
Darnell Taylor, Sr., SS, Sam Houston State
B.W. Webb, Sr., CB, William & Mary
Marcus Williams, Jr., CB, North Dakota State