MISSOULA — Montana linebacker Dante Olson officially became a finalist for the STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award, STATS announced Monday.
The senior also recently accepted an invitation to play in the East-West Shrine Bowl, one of the premier postseason All-Star games.
The honors come after Olson completed the regular season with the most tackles (151) in the Big Sky Conference and FCS football for a second straight year. He posted eight games this season with a double-digit tackle total, including a season-high 18 stops against both Idaho State and Montana State and a game-high 14 tackles (10 solo) against FBS Oregon.
He currently leads the Griz in tackles for loss (9.5) and has also posted 2.5 sacks, one interception, one pass breakup, two quarterback hurries, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble.
In only two years as a starter, Olson has racked up 302 total tackles in 23 games, an average of 13.1 stops per contest.
Not only is he one of the most dominant players in the country, he was named an NFF National Scholar-Athlete and finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, and also named the AFCA Good Works Team for his community service involvement.
Montana head coach Bobby Hauck and his staff presented his team's six positional awards and two scout team awards Sunday at the Grizzlies' annual end of season awards banquet, held at the DoubleTree hotel in Missoula.
After a team-wide vote, three honorees were chosen for positional awards, and three awards were presented for most inspirational player, hardest hitter and the player who best exemplifies Griz football. Also presented were the Scout Team Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year Awards.
The team will vote once again at the end of the season for Montana's premier annual awards: The Offensive and Defensive MVP, the Hauck Family Special Teams Player of the Year, and the Steve Carlson Team MVP award.
In the positional awards, junior Samori Toure took home the Terry Dillon Award that is presented to the team's outstanding back or receiver. Toure has hauled in 10 touchdown passes with a team-best 1,107 receiving yards so far this season, currently the seventh-most in UM history.
Senior center Cy Sirmon was presented with the Paul Weskamp award that goes to the team's outstanding offensive lineman. Sirmon has been a key component in Montana's improved offensive line and rushing game in 2019, having moved to center in the offseason to finish his career having played four different positions.
The Larry Miller Award for outstanding defensive lineman went to Jesse Sims for a second straight season. Sims excelled on the interior defensive line as the team's sixth-leading tackler with 46 stops this year.
The Tony Barbour Award for the player who "who best exemplifies outstanding practice habits and makes an unselfish contribution to the betterment of the Grizzly Football Team" actually went to three players this season, and all three are from the defensive side of the ball — senior defensive end Vika Fa'atuiese, safety Josh Sandry, and cornerback Kobey Eaton.
This year's Pat Norwood Award for the team's "most inspirational" player went to offensive lineman Angel Villanueva, who battled back from injury to reclaim a starting position as a senior.
Record-breaking senior linebacker Olson earned the Golden Helmet Award as the team's hardest hitter.
Two future stars of Griz football were also honored with the Offensive and Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year awards.
High school quarterback-turned-linebacker Kale Edwards of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, was presented with the Defensive award, while receiver Jesse Owens of Billings West earned offensive honors.