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The Sports Network panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, journalists, and other dignitaries named North Dakota State senior defensive end Kyle Emanuel the recipient of the Buck Buchanan Award on Monday. The Buchanan Award is given annually to the best defensive player in the FCS.
Emanuel has never played a collegiate season that ended in anything other than a National Championship. His Bison have won the last three FCS titles, and if they win over Sam Houston State this weekend in the FCS National Semifinal, they’ll have a chance to make it four in a row January 10. Few teams in any division, of any sport, have experienced the kind of success North Dakota State has managed to sustain over the last four years, and that’s in no small part thanks to the efforts of their star defensive end.
The 6-foot-3, 251-pound defensive end from Schuyler, Nebraska received 70 of 160 possible first-place votes for the Buchanan award. Villanova’s Don Cherry finished second with 13 first-place votes.
His list of accolades is impressive: 2012 All-MVFC Honorable Mention, 2013 All-MVFC Second Team, 2014 All-MVFC First Team, 2014 MVFC Defensive Player of the Year, 2014 AFCA FCS First Team All-American, and now the 2014 Buck Buchanan Award. Those are just his season-ending awards. He also earned player of the week awards this season from the MVFC (x3), the Sports Network (x2), and the College Football Performance.com National Defensive Lineman of the Week Award (x2), not to mention four years worth of MVFC All-Academic awards. You could say he’s decorated.
During the regular season alone, Emanuel amassed 70 tackles (40 solo), 16.5 sacks, 27 tackles for loss, eight quarterback hurries, three forced fumbles, two pass breakups, and an interception against Missouri State which he returned to the 16-yard line to set up a touchdown two plays later.
He’s currently half a sack behind Montana senior Zach Wagenmann for the FCS-lead with 17, and his 1.21 sacks per game rank fourth in the division. His 28.5 tackles for a loss to this point are the most of any FCS player this season, and the third most by per-game average, and his 4-sack game against South Dakota State week 10 tied him for the second-best single game sack performance of the FCS season.
Emanuel will have a chance to add to his statistical dominance this weekend, when his Bison welcome Sam Houston State to the Fargodome for an FCS National Semifinal showdown. Should they advance, like we predict they will, he’ll have a chance to finish his collegiate career a perfect four-for-four in National Title games — maybe his most impressive stat.