Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Hall wins FCS’ defensive player of the year award

Saturday, January 12, 2019
Junior inside linebacker Zach Hall hypes up his teammates as he walks the sideline following a big fourth quarter end zone stop against Eastern Illinois on Nov. 17.
Photo by Zach Tate ~ Sports Editor

Junior inside linebacker Zach Hall had one of the finest seasons in Redhawks football history, and it showed as he came away with the Football Championship Subdivision’s Buck Buchanan award.

The Buck Buchanan award is given to the FCS’ defensive player of the year, and has been awarded every year since 1995.

The Louisville, Kentucky, native posted an FCS-high 168 tackles as Southeast went 9-4, including 6-0 at home and a playoff win. He is the first Southeast player to win a national FCS award.

Since his season ended, Hall has been named to seven different FCS All-America teams and was also chosen as the Athletics Directors Association FCS Defensive Player of the Year.

Hall’s ability to find the ball-carrier was uncanny, as he had double-digit tackles in 10 of 13 contests, including a career-high 22 against Arkansas State in the season opener Sept. 1.

The linebacker did more than just fill gaps in the offense. Hall intercepted the ball a team-high four times, forced four fumbles, recovered two fumbles, blocked a pair of kicks and recorded a safety.

Hall anchored what was arguably one of the best defenses Southeast has had since it moved to Division I in 1991. The Redhawks finished the season leading the nation in interceptions (23), turnovers gained (36) and turnover margin (plus-24).

The 6-foot, 230-pound linebacker also took home the Ohio Valley Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year, the fourth time a Redhawk has taken home the award and first time since linebacker Blake Peiffer did in 2012.

This marks the second straight year an OVC player has taken home the Buck Buchanan award, as Jacksonville State’s Darius Jackson won it a year ago. Hall and Jackson are the only OVC players to win the award.

Hall’s competition for the award were Sam Houston State’s defensive end Derick Roberson and Montana’s linebacker Dante Olson. Roberson recorded 15 sacks, 20.5 tackles for loss and forced five fumbles, tied for second most nationally. Olson averaged a nation-leading 13.7 tackles per game on his way to 151 tackles.

Hall won by a large margin with 354 points, which included 28 first place votes. He was name second on 31 ballots, third on 19, fourth on 13 and fifth on seven. Roberson finished second with a total of 241 and Olson was third with 225.