LITTLE ROCK, Ark. --- Tusculum University defensive end Nelson Louis has been named a nominee for the 2018 Cliff Harris Award, which recognizes the top small college defensive player in the country. The award is presented by The Little Rock Touchdown Club and Wright, Lindsey & Jennings LLP.
The Cliff Harris Award is presented annually to the nation's top small college defensive player of the year representing more than 5,000 defensive players from almost 500 NCAA Division II, Division III and NAIA colleges and universities.
Louis was tabbed SAC Defensive Freshman of the Year becoming the fourth Pioneer to earn this honor and the second in the last two years, following current TU defensive back Jay Boyd who was a 2016 national finalist for the Cliff Harris Award. Louis becomes the second Tusculum defensive end to be honored joining Caushaud Lyons (currently with the Denver Broncos) who was a 2014 national finalist.
Louis led the Pioneers with 17 tackles for loss which are tied for sixth most in Tusculum history and were ranked seventh this year in the league. He also led TU with 10 sacks which are tied for the second most in school history and just one off the Tusculum single-season record of 11 set by Tracy Branner in 1998. Louis' 53 total tackles were third on the team as he broke up a pass, forced a fumble and tallied a team-best 12 quarterback hurries.
The 6-3, 265-pound native of Moultrie, Georgia, recorded his best game of the year against arch-rival Carson-Newman where he tallied 13 tackles including four for loss (-13 yds) and two sacks with a QB hurry. He also had eight tackles with four for loss and two sacks last Saturday against Wingate.
The Pioneers finished the season with a 5-5 overall record including 4-3 in the South Atlantic Conference to finish third in the league standings. It is TU's third straight season to finish in the top half of the conference and best overall finish since 2014.
An overall winner will be announced later this month and honored at the Little Rock Touchdown Club's annual awards banquet in January In addition to the overall winner, the top vote-getters from each division will also be announced. A prestigious group of former college and pro football greats serve on the Cliff Harris Award Committee including Roger Staubach, Lee Roy Jordan, Walt Garrison, Gene Stallings, Jackie Smith, Drew Pearson, Rayfield Wright, Emerson Walls, Charlie Waters, Bill Bates, Gil Brandt, Mel Renfro, Jim Hart and the award's namesake, Cliff Harris himself.