With 20 tackles-for-loss, a national-best amongst FCS sophomores, Montana linebacker Josh Buss earned a spot on the HERO SPORTS FCS Sophomore Defensive All-America First Team the news organization announced Thursday.
Buss was Montana’s leading tackler in 2016, posting 81 total tackles and 5.5 sacks in addition to his league-leading 20 TFLs. His sack total of 5.5 was the fourth most in the Big Sky last season, right behind UM defensive end Ryan Johnson, who had six.
Following his breakout season, Buss was named the co-winner of the 2016 Steve Carlson Award for the team’s Most Valuable Player in November.
“He had a great year period, but for a sophomore to have that big of a year and get that many tackles for loss is really great to see,” said UM head coach Bob Stitt.
“He’s going to be a big-time player, but he’s a great teammate too. What I love about him is that the statistics didn’t matter to him. He just did his job every single week, played hard and executed his assignment. The byproduct of that was great statistics, and now the honors are coming his way.”
After a dominant performance against Sacramento State on Oct. 15 with a career-high 10 tackles and 4.5 TFLs, Buss was named the ROOT Sports Big Sky Defensive Player of the week for the first time in his career two days later. He received an honorable mention for the STATS FCS National Defensive Player of the Week following that game as well.
The Boise, Idaho, native was a key player for the Griz during two weeks of record-setting defense in 2016, where Montana held its opponents scoreless during six quarters of play while racking up 128 straight points. It’s the most unanswered points for the Griz since 1920 when UM beat Carroll College 133-0.
Buss averaged 1.8 TFLs per game, with 15 of them solo over 11 games, tying him for the tenth-most in all of FCS football in any class cohort. Those 20 TFLs equaled 96 total lost yards for Montana’s opponents, the eighth-highest yard loss in the FCS.
Keontre Anderson of Jackson State leads the FCS in TFLs with 25.5, and Tegray Scales of Indiana is leading all FBS players with 23.5.
Buss was one of eight sophomores from the Big Sky Conference to make HERO Sports’ sophomore all-America team. Eastern Washington quarterback Gage Gubrud, a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, added to his haul of accolades along with Eagle offensive lineman Spencer Blackburn. North Dakota running back John Santiago, and UC Davis receiver Keelan Doss were also named to the offensive first team.
Three more Big Sky sophomores made HERO’s honorable mention list, with Weber State linebacker Landon Stice, Idaho State punter Sean Cheney and North Dakota running back Brady Oliveira receiving recognition.
The All-America team is selected by HERO SPORTS’ FCS editorial team, based on information provided by the FCS conference information directors.
The overall HERO SPORTS FCS All-America team is set to be announced on Friday.