HARRISONBURG, Va. - James Madison football’s redshirt-freshman linebacker Gage Steele has been named to the Jerry Rice Award Watch List for the most outstanding freshman in Division I FCS this season, The Sports Network announced today.
A native of Front Royal, Va., Steele was just named the Sports Network National Freshman of the Week and Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week after posting a career-high 18 tackles, including 13 solo stops in a 40-13 win over UAlbany on Saturday. His 13 solo tackles tie the most by any JMU player since 1999 and the 18 total tackles are the highest single-game output in the CAA this season.
Steele has started all six games for the Dukes and currently ranks second on the team, second in the CAA and 19th in the nation at 10.3 tackles per contest, having recorded 62 total tackles, 23 solos, 2.5 tackles for loss, one sack and a forced fumble. His 62 tackles are the tops among any of the initial award list candidates on the defensive side of the ball.
The Jerry Rice Award, which honors the national freshman of the year in FCS, was first given in 2011 and is named after Division I-AA All-American and Pro Football Hall of Fame Wide Receiver Jerry Rice, who played for Mississippi Valley State from 1980-1984.
The Jerry Rice Award Watch List can be amended throughout the 2013 season. The award is voted on by a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and others following the regular season and the winner will be invited to the FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation on Dec. 16.