Montana vs Eastern Washington 003.JPG (copy)

Montana's Josh Buss sacks Eastern quarterback Gage Gubrud (8) earlier this season. Buss was added to the Buck Buchanan Award watchlist on Wednesday.

Tommy Martino, Missoulian

MISSOULA — After tearing it up for Montana's defense so far this season, Grizzly linebacker Josh Buss was nominated to the Buck Buchanan Award watch list Wednesday.

The Buck Buchanan Award is presented to the FCS defensive player of the year ahead of the FCS national championship game in January. 

"It's a huge honor," Buss said Wednesday. "(There are) a lot of good players on there, if you just look through the list. There's a lot, a lot of good players on there." 

Through nine games, Buss has 89 total tackles, 12½ tackles for loss, 5½ sacks, one interception, four pass breakups and two quarterback hurries. 

His 89 total tackles rank 19th in the FCS and his 53 sack yards rank 11th nationwide.

His career-high 17 tackles against Eastern Washington is the 21st best single-game performance by a defensive player this season. 

But if there's one thing Buss is better at than playing defense, it's deflecting praise and being humble about his accomplishments. 

"I'm a team player, so when I think of those awards, like Coach (Jason) Semore preaches, any award an individual gets, it's a team award. It's not like I'm doing anything special. I'm just going out there and executing my job and everybody's executing their job that the coaches ask of us."

Buss' go-to phrases involve him not being "superhuman" or "special," but others around the country, including his coaches, beg to differ. 

"All you gotta do is turn the film on. He's a tremendous player," Montana defensive coordinator Jason Semore said of his junior linebacker. 

"Last year, it was one of those deals where he kinda snuck up on everybody because he was a young player. He never started before and he ended up as one of the top, leading TFL guys in the country.

"This year, we knew people would scheme for him in terms of their pass protection and where he's at on the field. He's still being really productive. That just speaks to the type of player that he is."

He's the type of player that could play anywhere on the field, according to Semore. It just so happens Buss plays linebacker.

"... There's no weakness in (his) game. He's one of our better cover guys. He's our best pass rusher. He's our best tackler. He has a lot of things in his tool box that let him make a lot of plays," the defensive coordinator said. "Absolutely he deserves to be on that list. You don't run across guys like that every day coaching in this business.

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"... He's a dude that can play safety. He's a dude that can play corner. He's a dude that can play all the positions because he's such a tremendous football player."

The Buck Buchanan Award has been around since 1995. Montana's Kroy Biermann took home the honor as a defensive end in 2007. 

Buss was one of six new nominees added to the watch list. The five others put on the list Wednesday are:

  • Lafayette linebacker Brandon Bryant;
  • Grambling State linebacker De'Arius Christmas;
  • Saint Francis cornerback Malik Duncan;
  • Yale linebacker Matthew Oplinger; and
  • Austin Peay defensive end Jaison Williams.

Other Big Sky players previously nominated for the award are Idaho State's Mario Jenkins and North Dakota's Cole Reyes. 

Others on the Buck Buchanan Award watch list are:

  • Colgate defensive lineman Pat Afriyie;
  • Jackson State defensive lineman Keontre Anderson;
  • James Madison defensive lineman Andrew Ankrah;
  • Charleston Southern defensive lineman Anthony Ellis;
  • Samford defensive lineman Ahmad Gooden;
  • Sam Houston State defensive lineman P.J. Hall;
  • Princeton defensive lineman Kurt Holuba;
  • Jacksonville State defensive lineman Darius Jackson;
  • North Dakota State defensive lineman Greg Menard;
  • Tennessee State defensive lineman Ebenezer Ogundeko;
  • San Diego defensive lineman Jonathan Peterson;
  • North Dakota State linebacker Nick DeLuca;
  • Houston Baptist linebacker Garrett Dolan;
  • Northern Iowa linebacker Jared Farley;
  • South Carolina State linebacker Darius Leonard;
  • Elon linebacker Warren Messer;
  • South Dakota State linebacker Christian Rozeboom;
  • Western Illinois linebacker Brett Taylor;
  • Southeastern Louisiana linebacker Sione Teuhema;
  • Monmouth defensive back Mike Basile;
  • Jacksonville State defensive back Marlon Bridges;
  • Illinois State defensive back Davontae Harris;
  • Villanova defensive back Rob Rolle;
  • Central Arkansas defensive back Tremon Smith; and
  • The Citadel defensive back Kailik Williams.

Amie Just covers Griz football for the Missoulian, among other things. Follow her on Twitter @Amie_Just or email her at Amie.Just@406mtsports.com.

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