CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – The recent tear University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Isaiah Mack has been on gained some national attention this week. The Mocs’ senior defensive lineman was added to the Buck Buchanan Award Watch List on Thursday.
The Buchanan Award, presented to the national defensive player of the year in college football’s Division I subdivision, has sent past winners such as Dexter Coakley, Rashean Mathis, Jared Allen, Arthur Moats and Kyle Emanuel on to NFL careers.
The Tunnel Hill, Georgia, native has 6.5 sacks, 7.5 TFLs and two forced fumbles in his last three games. He was named the Southern Conference Defensive Player of the Week by SouthernPigskin.com after leading the Mocs with nine tackles in a 34-27 win over VMI on Oct. 27. He posted three of the UTC’s seven sacks on the day and finished with a career-best 4.0 tackles-for-loss. The three sacks were also a career mark and just a 1/2 shy of the school record.
That was the most sacks in a game by a Moc since current New England Patriot Keionta Davis had three against the Keydets on Oct. 22, 2016. It was also the most TFLs in a game since Vantrel McMillan had 4.0 against Presbyterian on Sept. 10, 2016. Mack had two sacks at Western Carolina on Oct. 13 and another last week at Furman.
His 7.5 sacks on the year are currently second in the Southern Conference and No. 19 in the FCS. He has 20.0 career sacks, which is fourth-place all-time at UTC behind Davis Tull (37.0 - 2011-14), Davis (31.0 - 2013-16) and Joshua Williams (23.5 - 2009-12). His 40.0 career TFLs are third all-time at UTC, trailing Tull (60.0) and Davis (43.0).
Mack is the fifth Moc to be up for the Buchanan Award. Davis had the highest-ever finish in the voting at ninth in 2016. He was also 17th in 2015. Tull was 12th in 2014 and 13th in 2015. Wes Dothard (19th in 2012 and 25th in 2011) and Josh Beard (22nd in 2009) also made the list.
Mack joins four other Southern Conference student-athletes on the list. Samford’s Ahmad Gooden, Western Carolina’s Marvin Tillman and Wofford’s Miles Brown have been on the list since the preseason, while ETSU’s Nasir Player was another midseason addition.