Nashville, Tenn. - The early-season play of Tennessee State University defensive back Eugene Clifford, has led him to join the race for the 2010 Buck Buchanan Award, sponsored by Fathead.com.
Clifford, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound senior, has been a disruptive force in coverage this season. Through games of Oct. 2, he has intercepted three passes and broken up six more for nine passes defended. He also leads TSU with 39 tackles.
An All-Ohio Valley Conference first-team selection and All-American in 2009, Clifford was named to The Sports Network/Fathead.com Preseason All-American Third Team in July. He becomes the second player in the OVC to be added to the national list.
The stellar 20-player Watch List will be pared to one winner of the Football Championship Subdivision's top individual honor for defensive players. The Buchanan Award is in its 16th season and will be presented at the national awards banquet on Thursday, Jan. 6 in Frisco, Texas - the night before the national championship game.
Joining Clifford this week on the watch list is Tyler Holmes (Massachusetts) and Antoine Wilkinson (Missouri State).
The three join defensive tackles Kenrick Ellis (Hampton) and Martin Parker (Richmond); defensive ends Christian Clark (Sacramento State), Jabari Fletcher (Appalachian State) and Malcolm Taylor (Alcorn State); linebackers Eric McBride (Richmond), last year's runner up, J.C. Sherritt (Eastern Washington) Bryce Smith (Samford), D.J. Smith (Appalachian State), Terence Thomas (Villanova) and Jabara Williams (Stephen F. Austin); cornerbacks Jeremy Caldwell (Eastern Kentucky), Korey Lindsey (Southern Illinois), Trumaine Johnson (Montana), Justin Rogers (Richmond); and safeties Mark LeGree (Appalachian State) and James Vercammen (Dayton).
Other preseason nominees were defensive end Christian Anthony (Grambling State), and free safeties Jason House (Southern) and Mike McElroy (Southern Illinois).
The Buchanan Award Watch List can undergo a second revision on Oct. 25. Ballots will be sent to a panel of nearly 200 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries after the regular season on Nov. 22.
The Sports Network also presents the Walter Payton and Eddie Robinson awards which are sponsored by Fathead. The Payton Award honors the FCS player of the year and the Robinson Award honors the FCS coach of the year. Those two awards, like the Buchanan, will be presented at the national awards banquet.