LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas – Senior Brandon Morris and sophomore Taj Gooden of the Wesleyan University football team were named 2018 CLIFF HARRIS AWARD nominees, which is presented to the nation's top small college defensive player representing more than 5,000 student-athletes from almost 500 NCAA Division II, Division III, and NAIA colleges and universities.
Morris and Gooden were just two of three NESCAC athletes to be named a nominee, joining Andrew Yamin of Amherst. In all, there were 59 nominees from Division III.
This is the second year in a row that Morris has been named a CLIFF HARRIS AWARD nominee. The linebacker, a co-captain from Davie, Fla., enjoyed a stellar senior season to cap off an excellent career. Morris was named an All-NESCAC First Team Defense selection for the second time in as many years as he concluded the 2018 campaign with 55 tackles in eight contests. He ranked 12th in the conference with 6.9 tackles per game, while also recording 1.5 sacks, six tackles-for-loss, and two forced fumbles. Morris was also tied with three others for the most pass breakups in the NESCAC (7).
Gooden had a breakout sophomore season en route to his first CLIFF HARRIS AWARD nomination. The defensive lineman from Brooklyn, N.Y. was named both an All-Region and All-Conference First Team Defensive selection after leading the NESCAC in tackles-for-loss (17.5) and finishing second in the league in sacks (9). Gooden concluded the year with 35 tackles (3.5/game), a forced fumble, a pass break-up, and a blocked kick.
Finalists for the award will be released this week and the CLIFF HARRIS AWARD winner will be announced on Dec. 24 and honored at the Little Rock Touchdown Club's annual awards banquet on January 10, 2018. The winner will receive the $3,000 CLIFF HARRIS AWARD trophy presented by Cliff Harris and guest speaker Barry Sanders.