Olson Wins Buck Buchanan Award

 Every. Single. Award.

Montana linebacker Dante Olson has taken home virtually every award an FCS football player can earn after leading the subdivision in tackles for a second-straight season with an eyewatering 179 stops as a senior.

A consensus All-American, he’s already earned Montana’s Steve Carlson team MVP award, the Big Sky’s Defensive Player of the Year award, Phil Steele Magazine’s Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year, and the FCS Athletic Directors Association Defensive MVP. That’s not to mention the prestigious awards he’s taken home for his work off the field as a National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete and William V. Campbell Trophy Finalist and a member of the 2019 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.

An extensive but incomplete list. Incomplete, that is, until tonight.

On its 25th anniversary, Olson became just the third Grizzly ever to be awarded the STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award, presented annually to the FCS Defensive Player of the Year at the STATS FCS Awards Banquet. He topped the voting for the Buchanan Award by a landslide, picking up 36 first-place votes and 363 points.

Following the banquet, Olson was quick to reflect on the emotion of winning the most prestigious defensive prize in FCS football, and in typical Olson style, also quick to pass the credit for his success to his teammates and coaches.

“It was a very surreal feeling to win the Buchanan Award, and very humbling. It was amazing to hear my name called, and it’s an awesome thing to be a part of,” he said.

“Football is a team game. This is an incredible individual award, but I couldn’t be more thankful for the team I was surrounded with last year. Each and every individual that was around me had a huge impact on me. We had a very successful year as a team and I couldn’t be more thankful to them and the coaching staff that helped me achieve this goal of mine.”

Olson cemented his place in Grizzly history as a Buchanan Award winner by beating out a field of 26 semifinalists, including Ron’Dell Carter of James Madison and Sully Laiche of Nicholls, both defensive ends. Carter, the Colonial Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Year, finished the regular season with 25.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks, while Laiche had similar to the Southland Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year with 22.5 TFLs and 12 sacks.

Olson now joins Grizzly legends Kroy Biermann (2007) and Tyrone Holmes (2015) as the only three players in UM history to win the Buchanan Award. Other Montana finalists for the award include Andy Petek (runner-up, 2000), Vince Huntsberger (runner-up, 2001), Trey Young (2002), Biermann (2006), Trumaine Johnson (2010, 2011), Jordan Tripp (2012, 2013), Josh Buss (2017), and Olson himself in 2018.

“After having Dante be a finalist last year, coming back and just having a tremendous year – with all the things he’s done, the AFCA Good Works Team, all the All-American awards – I thought this was the icing on the cake,” said head coach Bobby Hauck.

“For him to win the Buck Buchanan Award is great for Dante and his family, it’s great for the Grizzly famil and the University of Montana, and I know everybody in the state of Montana is proud of him.”

The Buchanan Award win pins a bow on the career of arguably the greatest defensive career in Montana history, with Olson topping the list of UM’s all-time top tacklers with a school-record 397 tackles in just two years as a starter.

“There was a lot of talk about Mr. Buck Buchanan tonight and how great of a player he was – top-100 of all-time, a college football hall of famer, and professional football hall of famer. It’s truly an honor and very humbling to receive an award in his name,” said Olson in his acceptance speech.

“From winter condo – Coach Hauck’s favorite, to spring ball, to summer workouts, to floating the river and playing my last game in Washington-Grizzly Stadium, it’s been an incredible five years and what a way to end it.”

A national panel of 156 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries voted on the Buchanan Award, named for the Pro and College Football Hall-of-Fame defensive lineman and presented since 1995. Past winners include Dexter Coakley, Rashean Mathis, Jared Allen and Arthur Moats.

(FCS Defensive Player of the Year)
1. Dante Olson, LB, Montana: 36-25-16-11-13-363
2. Ron’Dell Carter, DE, James Madison: 27-16-15-11-9-275
3. Sully Laiche, DE, Nicholls: 21-13-16-9-12-235
4. Zach Hall, LB, Southeast Missouri: 11-15-12-13-16-193
5. Derrek Tuszka, DE, North Dakota State: 7-16-14-11-5-168
6. Kordell Jackson, S, Austin Peay: 4-13-12-13-10-144
7. John Daka, DE, James Madison: 11-7-7-9-9-131
8. Brandon Easterling, S, Dayton: 10-8-3-3-10-107
9. Elerson Smith, DE, Northern Iowa: 3-3-13-9-8-92
10. Eli Mencer, LB, UAlbany: 3-4-4-8-10-69
11. Christian Rozeboom, LB, South Dakota State: 2-6-4-9-4-68
12. Anthony Adams, DB, Portland State: 3-4-7-2-5-61
13. Bryson Armstrong, LB, Kennesaw State: 3-1-5-9-3-55
14.(tie) Da’Jon Lee, LB, Saint Francis: 0-3-6-8-7-53
14.(tie) Bryce Sterk, DE, Montana State: 2-5-4-4-3-53
16. Greg Liggs Jr., CB, Elon: 1-3-3-8-5-47
17. Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois: 2-2-2-7-6-44
18. Cam Gill, LB, Wagner: 2-4-1-1-5-36
19. Willie Eubanks Jr., LB, The Citadel: 1-3-3-0-3-29
20. Isiah Swann, CB, Dartmouth: 1-1-2-3-4-25
21.(tie) Aaron Patrick, DE, Eastern Kentucky: 2-0-1-4-2-23
21.(tie) Keith Woetzel, LB, Lehigh: 0-3-3-1-0-23
23. Rico Kennedy, LB Morgan State: 1-0-2-2-1-16
24. Nick Wheeler, DE, Colgate: 2-0-0-0-1-11
25. Artevius Smith, S, ETSU: 0-1-1-1-1-10
26. Solomon Muhammad, LB, Alcorn State: 1-0-0-0-4-9
A first-place vote was worth five points, a second-place vote four points, a third-place vote three points, a fourth-place vote two points and a fifth-place vote one point.