September has passed, and some FCS teams played as many as five games during the first stretch of the season. So if the season ended today, which candidates would lead the voting for this level's top four awards — Walter Payton Award (top offensive player), Buck Buchanan Award (top defensive player), Jerry Rice Award (top freshman) and the Eddie Robinson Award (best coaching job)? Our panel of nine tuned-in voters put together a ballot and ranked the candidates 1 through 5.
Here, we highlight the Buck Buchanan leader.
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If I time-traveled back to the summer and told you that a James Madison University defensive back was the early favorite to win the Buck Buchanan award, you probably wouldn't be all that surprised. But the twist here is that Jimmy Moreland — not the injured Rashad Robinson — leads our collective ballot after one month of play. Moreland has returned an interception for a touchdown in each of his last three games. No player in FCS football has more interceptions than he does at the moment.
Moreland didn't win the vote in a runaway. Montana linebacker Dante Olson and his 79 tackles actually garnered more first-place votes than Moreland did, so the voting was tight at the top. NDSU linebacker Jabil Cox, McNeese defensive back B.J. Blunt and Holy Cross linebacker Ryan Brady rounded out the Top 5.
Moreland won't keep up his pick-six streak, so the voting could change as the season progresses. Either way, his ball-hawking talents are likely to earn him a spot as a finalist.
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|BUCK BUCHANAN AWARD (Top Defensive Player)|
|Jimmy Moreland, James Madison, DB||38 (3)|
|Dante Olson, Montana, LB||32 (4)|
|Jabril Cox, NDSU, LB||25 (1)|
|B.J. Blunt, McNeese, DB||23 (1)|
|Ryan Brady, Holy Cross, LB||6|
|Darius Royster, N.C. Central, DL||4|
|Sully Laiche, Nicholls, DL||3|
|Christian Rozeboom, SDSU, LB||2|
|Donte Small, Morgan State, DB||1|
|Nasir Player, ETSU, DL||1|
The Walter Payton Award (Results)
The Jerry Rice Award (Results)
The Eddie Robinson Award (Results)
[divider]MORE: James Madison's Jimmy Moreland – The INT Machine[divider]
THE FAN VOTES
The Walter Payton Award (Vote Here!)
The Buck Buchanan Award (Vote Here!)
The Jerry Rice Award (Vote Here!)
The Eddie Robinson Award (Vote Here)
[divider]MORE: Dozens of FCS Talent in CFL[divider]
Thank you to the following panelists for the media vote: Chris Brown, HERO Sports Campus Correspondent (Jacksonville State); Caleb Rux, HERO Sports Campus Correspondent (Montana State); Dave Thomas, ESPN Harrisonburg (Va.); Anthony Nachreiner, KGEZ in Kalispell, Mont., Keith Brake, Bison1660 in Fargo, N.D. and HERO Sports staff members Ben Fox, Chase Kiddy, Sam Herder and Brian McLaughlin.