by Jeffery Reinhart
Of the eight finalists for the Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the year Award, seven were seniors and one was a junior.
Guess who won?
Not any of the seniors.
Grand Valley State junior defensive tackle Mike McFadden, a consensus first-team All-American and Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Defensive Lineman of the Year last fall, is this year’s Upshaw award winner.
The award is sponsored by the Manheim Touchdown Club, and McFadden, who registered at least one sack and one tackle for a loss in all 13 games last fall, will receive the award at the Touchdown Club’s annual banquet, which is set for May 16 at the Host Resort.
The Upshaw award winner is selected by the sports information director of the 150 football-playing NCAA Division II colleges.
Upshaw, the executive director of the National Football League Players Association, starred at Division II Texas A&I University before playing for the Oakland Raiders for 16 seasons.
He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1987.
“With a quarterback sack in 13 consecutive games this fall, (McFadden) had to be an offensive lineman’s nightmare,” Upshaw said in a release on Thursday.
Opposing offensive coordinators had to know where he was at all times.”
Pittsburgh State offensive lineman Nathan Baker won last year’s inaugural Upshaw award.
Dakota offensive lineman Brian Alderson, Bloomsburg offensive lineman Jahri Evans and Northwest Missouri State defensive linemanDave Tomlinson for this year’s honor.
“Mike was the key player in our defensive scheme,” said Grand Valley State coach Chuck Martin, who led the Lackers to a 13-0 record and to the Division II national championship last fall.
It was the team’s third national title in the last four years.
“He was a dominant player for us on the defensive line,” Martin said in a release. “He enabled our defense to do so many different things because our opponents had to pay special attention to him.”
Last fall, the 6-1, 255-pounder was the national co-leader with 19 sacks, and he was third in the country in tackles for losses with 21 1/2 for 110 yards in losses.
McFadden has 29 career sacks — tied for first in school history — and he made 83 tackles last fall for the Lackers.
“Any time you have a junior as one of your eight finalists for this award, and them for him to win the award, you know that this individual is someone special,” Manheim Touchdown Club president Don Harrissaid Thursday.
McFadden was also named a first-team All-GLIAC all-star, and he was named an All-American by the American Football Coaches Association, by Daktronics and by D2football.com.