NDSU's Kyle Emanuel wins Buchanan Award as best defensive player
PHILADELPHIA -- Opposing quarterbacks surely wish two defensive ends didn't get hurt in the same practice during the early part of North Dakota State's 2010 preseason camp. Then-head coach Craig Bohl changed plans and sent a true freshman named Kyle Emanuel off to work with the D-ends.
"And I just never came back," said Emanuel, who played mainly as a running back and linebacker in high school.
Having put on nearly 30 pounds since that day, the 6-foot-3, 251-pound Emanuel has gone on to terrorize quarterbacks for NDSU's national championship program. A key member during the Bison's title three-peat, Emanuel has saved his best for last as a fifth-year senior, earning the 20th Buck Buchanan Award as the outstanding defensive player in the FCS.
Emanuel received 70 of the 160 first-place votes and 495 points from a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries. Villanova junior linebacker Don Cherry finished second and Montana defensive end Zack Wagenmann was third among 25 finalists.
Emanuel's fierce playing style doesn't match his calm off-the-field demeanor. During the regular season, he used his athleticism, speed and instincts to tie for the national high with 16.5 sacks and rank second with 27 tackles for loss. He added 70 total tackles, eight quarterback hurries, three forced fumbles, one interception and two pass breakups for coach Chris Klieman's squad.
He was one of only two players in the FCS to be named The Sports Network's national defensive player of the week twice, and he went on to collect the Missouri Valley Football Conference's defensive player of the year award.
"It's just been unbelievable," said the construction management major (minor in business) from Schuyler, Nebraska. He has a 3.66 grade point average. "It's been a culmination of a lot of things, a lot of hard work, a lot of great people here at NDSU - it's truly a special place."
Georgia Buchanan, whose late husband Buck is the namesake of the award -- the Hall of Famer was the prototype for future NFL defensive linemen -- presented the 20th annual award at The Sports Network's FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation.
There were 160 ballots cast in the 2014 Buck Buchanan Award voting. Past winners include Jared Allen, Kroy Biermann, Dexter Coakley, Rashean Mathis and Arthur Moats, all current or past NFL players.
• Final 2014 Buck Buchanan Award voting