LA GRANDE – The 2021 Cliff Harris Awards finalists have been announced for NCAA Division II, Division III, and the NAIA. Making the list for the NAIA is Eastern Oregon University defensive linemen Sage DeLong and Chase Van Wyck.
The eighth annual Cliff Harris award is presented to the nation’s top small college defensive player representing more than 5,000 defensive players from almost 500 NCAA Division II, Division III and NAIA colleges and universities.
Despite playing in just seven games in 2021, DeLong made an immediate impact when he was on the field for the Mounties. He was the team leader in both tackles for loss and sacks at 17.5 and 10.0, respectively. He was fourth on the team in total tackles with 52 and had 32 be on a solo effort. His 32 solo tackles were second most for the Mountaineers. DeLong leaves Eastern second all-time in career sacks and tackles for loss with 26.0 and 51.5, respectively. This year DeLong has already picked up First Team All-America honors from the AFCA and Associated Press. He was also named First Team All-Conference for a third year and earned his first career Frontier Conference Defensive Player of the Year award.
Van Wyck was a key anchor on the EOU defense totaling 16.5 tackles for loss and 7.0 sacks. Both totals were second on the team. He was also third in total tackles with 54 and had 31 be unassisted. He also forced one fumble, recovered two, and blocked a kick during the 2021 campaign. For his career, Van Wyck leaves EOU third all-time in career tackles for loss and sacks with 48.5 and 24.5, respectively. He also ranks 10th all-time in career total tackles with 246. He earned AFCA Honorable Mention All-America honors and Second Team AP All-America honors. The Napavine, Wash. is a three-time All-Frontier Conference selection and a two-time Frontier Conference Defensive Player of the Year pick.
An overall winner will be announced on December 28th and honored at the Little Rock Touchdown Club’s annual awards banquet on January 14, 2022 with featured speaker Joe Theismann. The winner will receive the $3,000 Cliff Harris Award trophy presented by Cliff Harris. In addition to the overall winner, the top vote getters from each division will also be announced.