Ashland University junior defensive end James Prater Jr. is a nominee for the 2017 Cliff Harris Award, as announced on Wednesday (Dec. 13) afternoon.
In his first season as a collegiate starter this fall, Prater Jr. rewrote the Eagle football record book by collecting a program-record 23½ tackles for loss, resulting in 104 yards in losses. Prater Jr. also led AU with 42 solo tackles and 10 sacks, was third with 63 total stops, and added an interception, eight pass breakups, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble.
Prater Jr. has 31 career tackles for loss, fourth all-time at Ashland, trailing only Allen Lattimore (38½), current Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Jamie Meder (35) and Devin Conwell (33).
The Cliff Harris Award is presented to the top defensive player in the country representing Division II, III and NAIA colleges and universities. The award is named for the former Dallas Cowboys safety, who played for Ouachita Baptist in the late 1960s.
Finalists for the 2017 award will be released in one week, and the award winner will be announced on Dec. 23.