LITTLE ROCK, Ark. --- Tusculum College defensive back Jay Boyd has been named a national finalist for the 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.
Boyd is one of the 81 finalists for the Harris Award, including 30 from Division II. Of the DII honorees, two are from the South Atlantic Conference including Boyd and Catawba defensive lineman Kyle Kitchens.
Boyd is the lone NCAA II freshman to be recognized and one of only two rookies amongst the national finalists for the Cliff Harris Award.
Boyd was named the 2016 South Atlantic Conference Defensive Freshman of the Year. He garnered All-Conference accolades both as a defensive back and as a return specialist.
Boyd, a 6-0, 190-pound product from Viera, Florida, becomes the third Pioneer to garner SAC Defensive Freshman of the Year honors, joining former All-American and TC Sports Hall of Famer Craig Pritchett (2000) and current teammate L'Keith Brown (2014).
Boyd led the league with five interceptions, which are tied for the second most in school history and matches teammate's Martez Thompkins (2015) for the most picks by a Tusculum freshman. In his 10 games, he posted 44 tackles, including six for loss, with three pass break-ups, forced a fumble and recovered another.
On special teams, he paced the Pioneers on kickoff returns, averaging a SAC-best 25.95 yards per return (37th in NCAA II), including his 95-yard return for a touchdown in Tusculum's 38-28 road win over Catawba. His 95-yard return is the third longest in program history and for his efforts was named the SAC Special Teams Player of the Week.
Boyd becomes the second Tusculum player to be named a finalist for this award, joining former 2014 All-American defensive end Caushaud Lyons.
An overall winner will be announced on December 24, 2016 and honored at the Little Rock Touchdown Club's annual awards banquet on January 19, 2017 featuring guest speaker Archie Manning. 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.
Tusculum (4-7, 3-4 SAC) won three of its last four games and finished fourth in the South Atlantic Conference.