MEAC Defensive Player of the Year Darius Leonard finished fifth in voting for the Buck Buchanan Award, given to the top defensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).
The award was named in honor of the late National Football League (NFL) player Junious "Buck" Buchanan, who starred at Grambling State University. Buchanan was an All-American defensive lineman and the first overall pick in the 1963 American Football League (AFL) Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Leonard, who played linebacker for South Carolina State, was joined by Grambling State linebacker De'Arius Christmas in voting that idenficied the top 25 FCS defensive players in the country. Christmas finished in a two-way tie for 22 in the voting.
A national panel of 151 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries participated in the process that ranked players with a point system.
A first-place vote was worth five points, a second-place vote four points, a third-place vote three points, a fourth-place vote two points and a fifth-place vote one point.
Jacksonville State defensive end Darius Jackson finished first with 304 points. Leonard got 143 points and Christmas had 21.
The 2017 voting results:
1. Darius Jackson, DE, Jacksonville State: 29-18-20-11-5-304
2. Brett Taylor, LB, Western Illinois: 32-20-12-9-9-303
3. Andrew Ankrah, DE, James Madison: 23-22-12-8-4-259
4. Jonathan Petersen, DE, San Diego: 7-8-18-11-4-147
5. Darius Leonard, LB, South Carolina State: 9-12-6-11-10-143
6. Mike Basile, S, Monmouth: 6-10-9-13-6-129
7. Ahmad Gooden, DE, Samford: 2-11-10-13-9-119
8. P.J. Hall, DL, Sam Houston State: 7-8-6-6-11-108
9. Anthony Ellis, DE, Charleston Southern: 4-5-8-8-9-89
10. Warren Messer, LB, Elon: 5-4-6-4-9-76
11. Sione Teuhema, LB, Southeastern Louisiana: 7-3-3-5-1-67
12. Nick DeLuca, LB, North Dakota State: 5-2-6-5-2-63
13. Tremon Smith, CB, Central Arkansas: 3-5-2-6-7-60
14. Matthew Oplinger, LB, Yale: 3-4-2-5-8-55
15. Brandon Bryant, LB, Lafayette: 2-2-5-5-5-48
16. Jared Farley, LB, Northern Iowa: 2-1-5-7-4-47
17. Marlon Bridges, S, Jacksonville State: 0-6-3-4-5-46
18. Garrett Dolan, LB, Houston Baptist: 1-2-1-5-16-42
19. Jaison Williams, DE, Austin Peay: 0-2-3-6-7-36
20. Christian Rozeboom, LB, South Dakota State: 1-2-3-2-7-33
21. Josh Buss, LB, Montana: 1-1-2-1-8-25
22. (Tie) De'Arius Christmas, LB, Grambling State: 1-1-3-0-3-21
22. (Tie) Devontae Harris, CB, Illinois State: 0-1-4-2-1-21
24. Mario Jenkins, LB, Idaho State: 1-1-1-3-0-18
25. Malik Duncan, CB, Saint Francis: 0-0-1-1-1-6
Past winners of the Buck Buchanan award include Dexter Coakley, Rashean Mathis, Jared Allen, Arthur Moats and Kyle Emanuel.