(STATS) - Playing opposite Big Sky defensive player of the year Zack Wagenmann last season didn't prevent Montana defensive end Tyrone Holmes from drawing lots of attention from opposing offenses.
With the focus even greater this year, Holmes is taking his play to a higher level. The big man with the 3.6 grade-point average is outsmarting the competition in addition to overpowering it.
He enjoyed a career performance on Saturday as then-No. 14 Montana opened its Big Sky Conference schedule with a 23-14 win over Northern Arizona.
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Holmes, James Madison's Vad Lee, Grambling State's Martez Carter and North Dakota's John Santiago have been named the STATS FCS National Players of the Week for games Sept. 24-26.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK=
Vad Lee, James Madison, QB, R-Sr., 6-1, 225, Durham, North Carolina
Lee's performance at SMU underscored how everything is big in Texas. The second-year transfer from Georgia Tech set James Madison program records with 565 yards of total offense and 276 rushing yards in the CAA Football team's 48-45 win over an FBS foe. The STATS Preseason Second Team All-American completed 20 of 33 attempts for 289 yards and three scores, including the game-winner with 27 seconds remaining. He also rushed for 40- and 5-yard touchdowns while averaging 13.8 yards on 20 carries. JMU is 4-0 and Lee ranks first in the FCS in total offense (424.5 ypg).
Honorable Mention: Drew Reed, QB, Lafayette
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK=
Tyrone Holmes, Montana, DE, Sr., 6-4, 245, Eagle Point, Oregon
The explosive pass rusher has excelled this season while Montana has played a tough early schedule. He posted career highs of 11 tackles, 5 1/2 tackles for loss and four sacks in Montana's 23-14 victory over Northern Arizona, a Big Sky team that had defeated the Grizzlies in their two previous meetings. Holmes had two sacks in the first half while Grizzlies held NAU to 19 yards on 26 plays and built a 16-0 lead. His eight sacks, 9 1/2 TFL and 45 yards for loss through four games lead the FCS.
Honorable Mention: Andrew Ankrah, LB, James Madison
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK=
Martez Carter, Grambling State, RS, So., 5-8, 175, Monroe, Louisiana
The SWAC boasts five kick returners whose averages rank in the top 25 of the FCS and leading the way is Carter. "Mr. Excitement," as he is called, returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in Grambling's 70-54 win over Prairie View A&M at the annual State Fair Classic in Dallas. He scored on an 88-yarder in the first quarter, and then after Prairie View closed within 56-48 with 3:46 left to play, Carter returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards to seal the win. He also scored touchdowns on a run and a reception, finishing with 285 all-purpose yards, including 200 on three kickoff returns and 37 on one punt return.
Honorable Mention: Maleek Hall, CB, Tennessee Tech
FRESHMAN PLAYER OF THE WEEK=
John Santiago, North Dakota, RB, 5-9, 170, Andover, Minnesota
Santiago's 46-yard kickoff return to begin North Dakota's 31-24 win over UC Davis was an ominous sign for the visiting Aggies. By the end of UND's Big Sky opener, the true freshman had rushed for 152 yards and two touchdowns and added three kickoff returns for 94 yards to finish with 246 all-purpose yards. He scored on a 6-yard run in the third quarter and his final 30 rushing yards and two first downs came on the game-clinching drive that covered the final 6:07. Santiago ranks second in rushing yards per game and third in all-purpose yards per game among FCS freshmen.
Honorable Mention: Thomas Jefferson, RB, Delaware