Jefferson named finalist for Gene Upshaw Lineman of the Year award

STEPHENVILLE – Tarleton Defensive End B.J. Jefferson has been named one of eight finalists across the country for the 2019 Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year award.

Jefferson, a senior from Acres Home, Texas, advanced past the regional voting field of 35 candidates to the final eight for the prestigious award that includes offensive and defensive linemen across NCAA Division II. The finalists include four offensive linemen and four defensive linemen.

Jefferson has had a breakout, record-setting season for the Texans on the defensive line while becoming the first Texan in school history to win the Lone Star Conference Defensive Player of the Year award. The national leader with 24 tackles for loss, Jefferson has helped Tarleton to a No. 3 national ranking, back-to-back undefeated regular seasons and consecutive Lone Star Conference titles. In addition to 7.5 sacks, he totaled has 10 quarterback hurries, four pass breakups and an interception. He also leads the team in tackles with 87. Jefferson’s defense has allowed just 15.9 points per game, ranking 13th nationally in scoring. The team’s 275.2 yards per game allowed ranks 12th nationally. Jefferson is a three-time Lone Star Conference Defensive Player of the Week this season – the most in the conference.

Representing Super Region 1 is Indiana (Pa.) center Jeff Arnold and Slippery Rock left tackle Chris Larsen. Super Region 2 finalists are Lenoir-Rhyne defensive end Jaquan Artis and Valdosta State offensive lineman Adonis Sealey. Advancing from Super Region 3 are Ferris State defensive end Austin Edwards and Truman State defensive end Sam Reeves. Super Region 4 is represented by defensive end B.J. Jefferson of Tarleton and left tackle Grant Stewart of Colorado School of Mines.

Seven of the eight finalists play for teams that reached the NCAA Division II Playoffs, which begin on Nov. 23. Larsen helped Slippery Rock to a PSAC Championship and a No. 1 seed in Super Region 1. Arnold’s IUP team is the No. 4 seed in Super Region 1. In Super Region 2, Artis’ Lenoir-Rhyne team is 11-0 and earned the No. 2 seed. Sealey’s Valdosta State team, which won the NCAA Division II Championship in 2018, is again undefeated with a No. 1 seed. Edwards, who also played in the national championship game a season ago for Ferris State, has the Bulldogs as the No. 1 seed in Super Region 3. Reeves’ Truman State team posted a 9-2 record. In Super Region 4, B.J. Jefferson’s Tarleton team is 11-0 and a No. 2 seed. Stewart’s Colorado School of Mines team is also 11-0 and owns the No. 3 seed.

The national round of voting begins on Monday, Nov. 25 and closes on Sunday, Dec. 1. The winner will be announced on Wednesday, Dec. 4. The award recipient has an invitation to participate in front of professional scouts and coaches at the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla. The winner will also be recognized at the Manheim Touchdown Club’s annual banquet in May.

The NFL recognizes, endorses and supports the winner of the award by guaranteeing a place in the all-star games. The support comes as recognition and appreciation for the late Mr. Upshaw, who was not only an All-Pro lineman for the Oakland Raiders, but later served as the executive director of the NFL Players Association for 25 years. Upshaw, a former standout offensive lineman at Texas A&I University (now Texas A&M Kingsville), was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987 in his first year of eligibility.


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