By ERIC TABER
Tyrone Holmes has already received a long list of accolades for putting together one of the best defensive seasons in Montana history last season. As of Friday, he can add the crown jewel of FCS football awards to his list, the FCS Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Holmes was named the best defensive player in all of FCS football on the eve of the FCS National Championship game in Frisco, Texas, at an invite-only gala event where the FCS Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year award winners were announced.
“I have some really good coaches that have allowed me to hone my skills over my time being here,” Holmes said in a STATS press release. “It’s my senior season, I realize that this is my last go at it, and I really wanted to make the most out of it.”
Holmes beat out defensive end James Cowser of Southern Utah and Portland State free safety Patrick Onwuasor for the best defender award after tallying a national-best 18 sacks, just one shy of tying the Montana record for most in a single season.
The Montana graduate from Eagle Point, Oregon, finished his four-year career at UM with 34.5 sacks, second on the Grizzlies’ all-time career list. He also sits second on UM’s all-time career tackle for loss list with 49.5 TFLs during his illustrious career.
A national panel of 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries selected STATS FCS awards between the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs.
Holmes was presented the award by STATS, the company formally known as The Sports Network. The STATS FCS Defensive Player of the Year award is the prize formally known as the Buck Buchanan Award. The naming rights of the Buchanan award were not transferred when STATS acquired The Sports Network.
Holmes was named to four separate All-America teams: the FCS Coaches’ All-America team, the Walter Camp Foundation All-America team, the Associated Press All-America first team and the STATS FCS All-America first team. He was also named to the sports blog CollegeSportsMadness.com’s All-America team.
Kroy Biermann, currently playing for the Atlanta Falcons, was the last Montana player to win the Defensive Player of the Year award nearly a decade ago in 2007, at the time the Buchanan Award. The only other Montana player to win a national Player of the Year award was Dave Dickenson who was named the Offensive Player of the Year (Peyton Award) in 1995 following Montana’s first championship run.
Notably, Holmes did not receive the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year Award. That award instead went to Cowser from Southern Utah.
Jacksonville State wide receiver Dalton Screws was the winner of the inaugural Doris & Eddie Robinson FCS Scholar-Athlete of Year Award.
Northern Arizona quarterback Case Cookus won the award for FCS Freshman of the Year Award after putting together a stellar season for the Lumberjacks.
Portland State head coach Bruce Barnum took home the FCS Coach of the Year Award after the best season in Vikings history.
Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp made it 4-4 for the Big Sky Conference in on-field awards when he received the Offensive Player of the Year Award to conclude the evening.
Having already earned his degree from Montana in less than four years, Holmes is currently living in California training for this spring’s Montana pro day.