Southeast Missouri’s junior linebacker Zach Hall won the 2018 Buck Buchanan Award Friday night, emerging from a group of 25 finalists that included Sam Houston State defensive Derick Roberson, the runner-up, and Montana junior linebacker Dante Olson, the third-place finisher. The trio of first-team All-Americans were honored at the STATS FCS Awards Banquet in Frisco, Texas.
“It feels great to turn this program around, but we’re not anywhere we want to be yet,” Hall said. “Every time I go out there I feel like I leave everything on the field, not just for myself, but for my teammates, family and simply the love of the game. I think that shows in how hard I play and how hard we work to get this team where it needs to be.”
Hall, from Louisville, Kentucky, posted an FCS-high 168 tackles as SEMO went 9-4 for its first winning season since 2010. The Redhawks snapped Jacksonville State’s 36-game winning streak in the Ohio Valley Conference – Hall had a game-high 15 tackles and a key blocked kick – and beat Stony Brook in the playoffs.
The 6-foot, 230-pound linebacker, named the OVC Defensive Player of the Year, contributed six takeaways – four interceptions and two fumble recoveries – and forced four fumbles. He reached double figures in tackles in 10 of 13 games, including a career-high 22 against FBS member Arkansas State – the most by an OVC player in 10 years.
Hall is the second-straight OVC player to win the award, joining Jacksonville State’s Darius Jackson from a year ago. The duo are the only OVC players to win the award which was first handed out in 1995.