SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Three Southern Conference football student-athletes were among the 25 members on the preseason watch list for the STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award, STATS announced Thursday. Samford’s Ahmad Gooden, Western Carolina’s Marvin Tillman and Wofford’s Miles Brown all earned spots on the list.
First awarded in 1995, it has sent past winners such as Dexter Coakley, Rashean Mathis, Jared Allen, Arthur Moats and Kyle Emanuel on to the NFL.
The watch list will have updates during the season. A national panel of over 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries will vote on 25 finalists following the regular season.
Samford’s Gooden, a defensive lineman who was named the SoCon’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2017 and is the preseason pick for that award this year, ranked second on the team and sixth in the Southern Conference in total tackles with 101. He also led the team and ranked second in the SoCon in tackles for loss with 15.5, and he tied for fourth in the league in sacks with 5.5.
For his career, Gooden has tallied 224 total tackles, including 104 solo stops. He has also amassed 38.0 tackles for loss and 17.5 sacks in his Samford career.
Gooden has earned preseason All-America honors from Athlon Sports, HERO Sports and STATS FCS this summer.
Western Carolina’s Tillman, a defensive back, has garnered a pair of preseason All-America honors entering his final season. Earlier in the summer, the Durham, N.C., native was recognized by HERO Sports with the more recent honor coming this week as he was named second-team preseason All-America by STATS.
Tillman returns as WCU’s leading tackler from a season ago, finishing with 96 total stops over 10 games to rank second on the squad while his 9.6 tackle-per-game average ranked him second in the SoCon. He also led the conference with a career-best five interceptions, two coming in the month of September that helped him collect SoCon Defensive Player of the Month plaudits a season ago. Following the 2017 season, Tillman was a first-team All-SoCon honoree while also garnering second-team All-America honors from the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA).
Entering his senior season, Tillman has 203 career tackles including 110 solo stops with three tackles for losses, tallying double-digit tackles in seven games, including a career-best 14 in the home upset victory over nationally ranked Samford in 2017. In the back end of the WCU defense, Tillman has 13 passes defended with six career interceptions.
Wofford’s Brown, a defensive back, started all 13 games last season and had 44 total tackles while leading the team in sacks and tackles for loss. He was first-team All-Southern Conference last season and a third-team STATS All-American.
Brown has also received preseason All-America honors from STATS, HERO Sports and Athlon.
For STATS' full release, click here.