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Hartwell wins the 2000 Buck Buchanan Award
The senior recorded a FCS-best 169 tackles during the regular season for the Leathernecks, helping Western Illinois fashion a 9-2 record and earn the Gateway Football Conference Championship. In leading WIU to its first playoff appearance since 1998, Hartwell accumulated double-digit tackles in each regular season game. The school's all-time leading tackler with 512 stops in just three seasons at Western Illinois, Hartwell also had four games with 20 or more tackles. In addition to his national honor, Hartwell was also named Gateway Football Conference Player of the Year for a second straight season. The senior, who began his career at the University of Wisconsin, will play in the Kelly Tire Blue-Gray game on Christmas Day.
Said Hartwell, "This is a great honor, but it's a team honor. Everyone on this team: the defensive linemen, the other linebackers, the defensive backs, everyone on the offense, won this award. It's an honor to be named among the best players in the country, but it's a team honor."
Hartwell is the fifth consecutive senior to win the award, and the fourth linebacker. Current Dallas Cowboys linebacker Dexter Coakley was a two-time winner of the award, and Western Illinois LB James Milton won the honor in 1998. Hartwell's selection as the Buchanan Award winner also makes him the second player from the Gateway Football Conference to win the award, with Milton being the first.
Hartwell's amazing 2000 season was highlighted by four games in which he amassed 20 or more tackles. The Las Vegas native recorded 20+ tackles in three straight wins, including 20 against Southern Illinois (Oct. 7), 20 versus Southwest Missouri State (Oct 14), and 21 against Youngstown State (Oct. 21). All three contests resulted in wins for the Leathernecks. Hartwell's collegiate career ended with a 22-tackle performance in a loss to Lehigh during the first round of the FCS playoffs on Nov. 25th.
Hartwell received 23 first-place votes and 215 points from the panel of 90 FCS sports information directors and selected media. Following Hartwell in the voting were Montana defensive end Andy Petek, who earned 24 first-place votes and 188 total points, and Youngstown State linebacker Tim Johnson, who registered 10 first-place votes and 183 total points.
The Buck Buchanan Award was established in 1995 by The Sports Network. The Award is named for All-Pro defensive end Junious "Buck" Buchanan, who played for the Kansas City Chiefs after beginning his career at Grambling State University.