LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Stevenson University senior defensive back Austin Tennessee has been named a finalist for the Cliff Harris Award, given annually to the top defensive player in small college football at the Division II, III and NAIA levels. A total of 81 finalists from all three levels have been selected.
The award recipient announced on December 24 and honored at the Little Rock Touchdown Club's annual awards banquet on January 19, 2017. In addition to the overall winner, the top vote getters from each division will be announced. The award is named after six-time NFL Pro Bowl selection Cliff Harris.
Tennessee moved to safety from cornerback this season and totaled 57 tackles (44 solo) for the Mustangs. He tied for the team lead in interceptions with six and had 200 interception return yards, including a pair of interception returns for touchdowns. He also had eight pass breakups. The Mustangs rank third nationally with 26 interceptions in 11 games and also rank among the national leaders in turnovers gained with 30 and turnover margin (+1.45).
Earlier this week, Tennessee was named an AFCA First Team All-American, with the D3football.com All-America teams set to be announced later on Friday. A D3football.com First Team All-Region selection, Tennessee was also the website's East Region Defensive Player of the Year, as well as the Middle Atlantic Conference Defensive Player of the Year and a First Team All-Conference selection. He has also garnered ECAC First Team All-Star accolades.
Stevenson finished 9-2 in 2016 for the second straight season. The Mustangs captured their first-ever MAC championship with an 8-1 league record and made their first NCAA playoff appearance.