Click Here For Official Cliff Harris Award Release (PDF)
Big Rapids, Mich. - A pair of Ferris State University football standouts, junior defensive end Zach Sieler (Pickney) and senior cornerback Tavierre Thomas (Detroit), are among a group of national finalists for the 2017 Cliff Harris Award, which is presented to the nation's top small college defensive player.
Sieler and Thomas are two of only three Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) performers on the list of 30 NCAA Division II finalists along with Ashland's James Prater, Jr. Both previously were tabbed as nominees for the award last week and now announced among the group of prestigious finalists for the honor.
This year marks the second-straight campaign in which Sieler has been tabbed as a finalist for the distinction.
The Cliff Harris Award is presented by The Little Rock Touchdown Club and is given to the nation's top small college defensive player representing more than 5,000 defensive players from almost 500 NCAA Division II, III and NAIA colleges and universities.
The award is named after Cliff Harris, who went from an overlooked high school player from tiny Des Arc, Ark., and one scholarship offer from NAIA Ouachita Baptist University to eventually playing in five Super Bowls and six Pro Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys.
A prestigious selection committee made up of former college and pro football greats selects the winner. In addition to the Cliff Harris Award overall winner, the top vote getter from each division will also be announced.
The Cliff Harris Award winner is set to be named on Dec. 23 and honored at the Little Rock Touchdown Club's annual awards banquet on January 11, 2018. The winner will receive the $3,000 Cliff Harris Award trophy presented by Cliff Harris along with featured speaker Marcus Allen.
Thus far, both Sieler and Thomas have been consensus All-America selections this year by both the American Football Coaches Association, the Division II Conference Commissioners Association and the Associated Press.
This fall, Sieler was tabbed as the GLIAC's Defensive Lineman of the Year for the second-straight year and also recently chosen as the Division II Conference Commissioners Association (D2CCA) Super Region Three Defensive Player of the Year. He led the Bulldogs with 21 tackles for loss (-74 yards) and seven quarterback sacks (-46 yards) while ranking third in total tackles (79) in addition to forcing two fumbles, recovering two fumbles, breaking up two passes and blocking a quick.
Meanwhile, Thomas ranked among the league and national leaders with 18 total pass breakups and four interceptions while garnering the GLIAC Defensive Back of the Year honor. The two-time first team All-GLIAC selection finished right behind Sieler on the squad with 60 total stops and added two tackles for loss while starting all 13 games in his final season as a Bulldog.
Ferris State finished the 2017 season with an 11-2 overall record. FSU's 11 wins this season marks the fourth consecutive year in which the Bulldogs have achieved the feat, which represents the first time in school history in which FSU has done so over four-straight years.
This fall, the Bulldogs also made their fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Division II Playoffs and reached the national quarterfinal round for the second-straight year after making a D2 National Semifinal appearance last season.
More information on the Cliff Harris Award can be found at www.CliffHarrisAward.com