In the FCS Huddle: From walk-on to Buck Buchanan Award winner

While growing up in Montana, a young football player really has one dream: To play in college for the Montana State Bobcats or the Montana Grizzlies.

But for Caleb Schreibeis, choosing Montana State was easier because his brother Joe was an all-conference tight end and team captain for the Bobcats.

"It says who you are and who you grow up being. It's just a big deal because we don't have any of those bigger schools or professional teams around," Schreibeis said. "When my brother signed here (Montana State), that kind of started off this deep Bobcat tie, and now it means a ton to our family being part of Montana State history."

The Billings native began his MSU career hoping to see playing time on special teams, but he can now say he is part of Bobcats football history as he earned the 2012 Buck Buchanan Award, which honors the outstanding defensive player in the FCS.

"Looking back from being a walk-on four years ago, I never would have imagined that I would be sitting in these shoes right now," Schreibeis said. "I'm extremely thankful for the coaches, other players and my parents for the support and those involved in my upbringing where I came from."

In 10 regular-season games, Schreibeis led by example as a captain, holding together MSU's defense. He collected 51 tackles and ranked first on his team in tackles for loss (14.5), sacks (12), quarterback hurries (seven) and forced fumbles (seven). The Bobcats won a share of their third straight Big Sky Conference title.

Add in Montana State's two FCS playoff games, Schreibeis upped his season totals to 59 tackles, including 24 solos, 15 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, seven quarterback hurries, four pass breakups and eight forced fumbles. The Bobcats had an 11-2 record.

"I was always working off the field individually to get better, but this season I was more focused on the defense as a whole," Schreibeis said. "The team aspect, what can I do to help this team succeed and win games."

That same humble attitude helped Schreibeis improve individually.

"Our defensive line made a goal at the beginning of the year," he said about his FCS-leading seven forced fumbles, "We heard a statistic out there where every seven sacks, there is one fumble. So we made this goal of seven fumbles in the regular season and it was on my mind. I know how big of a play that is in a game. It's just opportunities that come up and I always look for it."

Those same opportunities he capitalized on the field also related to his character off the field. He's spent time traveling to Brazil and Turkey for coaching and missionary work, and majors in mechanical engineering technology.

"I just remember him (Joe) saying it's hard work. If you're going to do this, you have got to do this with full force, because if you do it partially, you're not going to make it," Schreibeis said. "And I think that's so true now that I'm here."

Even for Schreibeis, a Montana kid with Bobcats blue-and-gold blood, it's hard to imagine just how far he has come.

"I think it's pretty cool and unbelievable to be honest," Schreibeis said. "It's cool to see how I've kind of progressed over the years to where I am now. I'm just so thankful for the support from family and friends and how much the lord has blessed me through all of this."

Schreibeis is the fifth player from the Big Sky Conference to receive the Buchanan Award - all in the last 10 seasons.