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Craig Haley | | October 8, 2015

FCS Football: STATS Player of the Year Watch lists released

  De'Angelo Henderson has rushed for 634 yards and seven touchdowns on 98 carries this season

(STATS) - One wears uniform number 9, one 1, the other 91.

But that's not the only coincidence linking Northern Iowa's Deiondre' Hall, Montana's Tyrone Holmes and Eastern Kentucky's Noah Spence.

In fact, opposing offenses have often been forced to dial 9-1-1 because those three players have been among the most disruptive defenders in the FCS this season. As a result, Hall, a cornerback, and Holmes and Spence, both defensive ends, were nominated to the STATS FCS Defensive Player of the Year Watch List on Wednesday.


DEIONDRE' HALL, Northern Iowa, CB, Sr., 6-2, 190, Blue Springs, Missouri

Versatility has been Hall's calling card as he's spent time at UNI at free safety, rover and outside linebacker as well as at wide receiver and as a returner. But he's been best-suited for cornerback because of his ball-hawking and playmaking skills. In his fourth season as a starter, Hall has an impressive 28 tackles with two interceptions - one which he returned for a pivotal touchdown against Eastern Washington - and two forced fumbles. He has helped his 2-2 Missouri Valley Football Conference team to a No. 10 national ranking against one of the toughest schedules in the FCS.


TYRONE HOLMES, Montana, DE, Sr., 6-4, 245, Eagle Point, Oregon

For a Montana team that hired an offensive-oriented coach (Bob Stitt) last offseason, it sure plays a lot of defense with Holmes in the lead role. His nine sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss are the most in the FCS and he's been in on 48 stops for the No. 12 Grizzlies (3-2), who have a share of first place in the Big Sky. The big season includes career highs of 11 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and four sacks in a win over Northern Arizona. As intelligent as he is athletic, Holmes uses his speed and strength to a distinct advantage. He follows in a long line of dominant defensive ends at Montana, which has had 10 first-team All-Americans at the position since 1987.


NOAH SPENCE, Eastern Kentucky, DE, R-Jr., 6-3, 261, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Having run into different off-the-field problems at Ohio State, Spence has gained another chance at Eastern Kentucky, which he has helped to a No. 17 ranking. His talent is undeniable as he earned All-Big Ten first-team honors from the media in 2013. With his Ohio Valley Conference squad (2-2), Spence has used his quickness off the edge to register at least one sack in each game, totaling 4.5 overall with 18 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, four quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. The former five-star high school prospect is considered a prospect for the 2016 NFL Draft.


Other players on the STATS FCS Defensive Player of the Year Watch List are defensive ends James Cowser of Southern Utah, P.J. Hall of Sam Houston State, Victor Ochi of Stony Brook, Derek Rivers of Youngstown State, Chima Uzowihe of Liberty and Jonathan Woodard of Central Arkansas; defensive tackles Javon Hargrave of South Carolina State, O.J. Mau of Gardner-Webb and Devaunte Sigler of Jacksonville State; linebackers Kourtney Berry of Alabama State, Don Cherry of Villanova, Deon King of Norfolk State, Cory Magwood of Furman, Pat Meehan of Illinois State, James Rentz of Sacred Heart, Luke Rhodes of William & Mary, Darnell Sankey of Sacramento State and Connor Underwood of Indiana State; cornerbacks Casey DeAndrade of New Hampshire, Jermaine Hough of Jacksonville State and Harlan Miller of Southeastern Louisiana; and safety Donald Payne of Stetson.


Impressive statistics certainly say a lot about the four nominees added to the STATS FCS Offensive Player of the Year Watch List on Wednesday.

But what quarterbacks Eli Jenkins of Jacksonville State and Jordan West of Eastern Washington, running back De'Angelo Henderson of Coastal Carolina and wide receiver Jake Wieneke of South Dakota State will more likely point toward is that each of their teams is ranked in the FCS Top 10.

All four have played major roles in burning defenses on a regular basis to get them there.


DE'ANGELO HENDERSON, Coastal Carolina, RB, R-Jr., 5-8, 205, Summerville, South Carolina

It seems like Henderson is setting a school record or personal high with each game. He's used great vision and quick cutting ability to rank fourth in the FCS in rushing yards per game (126.8), totaling 634 yards and seven touchdowns on 98 carries. Add in 264 yards and two touchdowns on 24 receptions and "Hop," as he's known to teammates, ranks fifth in the FCS in all-purpose yards per game (179.6). He has become Coastal's all-time leading rusher (2,767) and set a Big South record with a touchdown in 19 straight games - one shy of the FCS record. Coastal (5-0) holds down the No. 2 ranking.


ELI JENKINS, Jacksonville State, QB, R-Jr., 6-2, 205, Birmingham, Alabama

In his third season as a starter, Jenkins is directing the offense of the No. 1-ranked team in the FCS. A dual-threat, he is averaging 233 total yards per game and has accounted for 11 touchdowns for the defending Ohio Valley Conference champion Gamecocks (4-1). He has completed 79 of 125 passes (63.2 percent) for 933 yards and eight touchdowns with three interceptions while rushing for 232 yards and three touchdowns. In an overtime loss at Auburn, Jenkins set career highs in completions (26) and attempts (43) while passing for 277 yards and collecting 314 yards of total offense. He's won all 20 of his regular-season starts against FCS opponents.


JORDAN WEST, Eastern Washington, QB, R-Jr., 6-4, 220, Maple Valley, Washington

In his last two games, the successor to two-time Big Sky offensive player of the year Vernon Adams Jr. has set EWU single-game records for passing efficiency (313.5 against Montana State) and passing yards (491 against Sacramento State). West is No. 1 in the FCS in passing yards per game (385.8), passing efficiency (201.6) and passing yards per attempt (11.5) and ranks toward the top in a number of other categories. The strong-armed signal-caller has completed 72.4 percent of his passes (97 of 134) and thrown for 15 touchdowns with only three interceptions for the seventh-ranked Eagles (2-2).


JAKE WIENEKE, South Dakota State, WR, R-So., 6-4, 210, Maple Grove, Minnesota

Wieneke ended his freshman season with a flourish and that run has continued this season for the No. 7 Jackrabbits (3-1). He's used his terrific size to break free from double coverage and catch 29 passes for 567 yards and six touchdowns, an average of 141.8 receiving yards per game to rank second in the FCS. Last year's Missouri Valley Football Conference Freshman of the Year, and the runner-up for national rookie honors, opened the season with big games against Kansas (eight receptions, 160 yards, two touchdowns), Southern Utah (11-205-2) and Robert Morris (7-163-2).


Other players on the STATS FCS Offensive Player of the Year Watch List are quarterbacks John Gibbs Jr. of Alcorn State, Jacob Huesman of Chattanooga, Vad Lee of James Madison, Troy Mitchell of Western Carolina, Dakota Prukop of Montana State, Tre Roberson of Illinois State, John Robertson of Villanova, Alex Ross of Coastal Carolina, Carson Wentz of North Dakota State and Dalyn Williams of Dartmouth; running backs Tarik Cohen of North Carolina A&T, Marshaun Coprich of Illinois State, Khairi Dickson of Saint Francis, Chase Edmonds of Fordham, Johnta' Hebert of Prairie View A&M, Connor Kacsor of Dayton, Dy'Shawn Mobley of Eastern Kentucky and Darius Victor of Towson; and wide receivers Ed Eagan of Northwestern State, Cooper Kupp of Eastern Washington and Darrin Peterson of Liberty.

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The Watch Lists can undergo revisions during the 2015 season. A national panel of over 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries will vote on the award after the regular season.

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