By ERIC TABER
Montana All-American defensive end Tyrone Holmes will travel to Frisco, Texas on Friday for the presentation of the STATS FCS National Defensive Player of the Year award, on the eve of the FCS National Championship game.
Holmes, the nation’s sack leader in 2015 with 18, is one of three finalists for the defender of the year award, all three of which hail from the Big Sky Conference. Defensive end James Cowser of Southern Utah and safety Patrick Onwuasor of Portland State round out the finalist list of the top three vote getters from Sports Information Directors and media members nation wide.
The 6-4, 250 pound Montana graduate from Eagle Point, Oregon will travel to Frisco from California, where he is training ahead of Montana’s upcoming pro day this spring. Griz football head coach Bob Stitt and the Holmes family will join him at the awards banquet.
In addition to his national-best 18 sacks this year, Holmes finished his 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.
For his efforts this season, 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, bringing his award total to four. He was also named to the sports blog CollegeSportsMadness.com’s All-America team.
The FCS National Offensive Player of the Year award will also be presented at the banquet. In the running for that award is Marshaun Coprich of Illinois State, Kade Harrington of Lamar, and Cooper Kupp of Eastern Washington.
Five awards will be handed out in total at the event. In addition to the Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year awards, the FCS Freshman of the Year, FCS Coach of the Year and FCS Scholar-Athlete of the year awards will be presented.
Freshman quarterback Case Cookus of Northern Arizona will receive the Freshman of the Year award, Portland State coach Bruce Barnum will receive the FCS Coach of the Year award, and Dalton Screws of Jacksonville State will receive the Scholar-Athlete award. Those award recipients were announced in December, while the Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year awards will be announced Friday.
Former FCS standout linebacker Dexter Coakley, who played at Appalachian State before playing for 10 years in the NFL, will present the Defensive Player of the Year award. The award is scheduled to be presented between 9:10 and 9:30 p.m. Central Time on Friday, Jan 8.
The FCS National Championship game takes place on Saturday at Toyota Stadium in Frisco between four-time defending champion North Dakota State (12-2) and Jacksonville State (13-1).
Follow Griz Football on Twitter @UMGRIZZLIES_FB for LIVE updates from the banquet.