New Hampshire's Matt Evans is Buck Buchanan Award winner
New Hampshire's linebacker honored as most outstanding defensive player in FCS college football
Frisco, TX (Sports Network) - New Hampshire junior linebacker Matt Evans kept busy throughout the entire regular season, leading the Football Championship Subdivision with 154 tackles and 88 solo stops.
Friday night, Evans was rewarded for all his stops as he was named the 2011 Buck Buchanan Award winner, which honors the outstanding defensive player in the FCS, is presented by The Sports Network and sponsored by Fathead.com.
"It was really something I didn't expect," Evans said. "It's a huge honor to be a part of that prestigious group."
The second player from CAA Football to win the award, Evans appeared on 113 of the 132 ballots and received 45 first-place votes, edging out Northern Iowa senior linebacker L.J. Fort.
Before the season, Evans never set his sights on individual awards.
"I just try, and want to be, the best player I can be," he said. "If I play well and get those honors, that is just added incentive. Obviously, it means more to me for the team to have a better season."
In addition to leading the nation in total tackles and solo stops, Evans posted double-digit tackles in 10 of New Hampshire's 11 regular-season games. He also snagged a pair of interceptions (one for a touchdown), forced three fumbles and registered six tackles for loss.
"Matt is one of those kids who is a very instinctive football player," New Hampshire coach Sean McDonnell said. "He's not a huge linebacker, he weighs about 215, 220 pounds soaking wet. He's got great speed, he's got great athleticism and he tackles very well. But, the thing that Matty does is he understands how people are attacking. He also knows how to get there, and gets around blocks."
The instincts that Evans, who is officially listed at 6 feet, 227 pounds, showed this season, have been refined since he started playing football at a young age in Hanover, Mass.
Those instincts received an upgrade the past three seasons, as the Wildcats defense went head-to-head in practice with one of the best offenses in the nation.
"Our offense is definitely one of the best in the country," Evans said. "It's always been that way, at least since I got here. But, it's helped with the change on defense, we've gotten much better since I've been here."