Cliff Picks 36: NCAA Division II Football Players Named Finalists for 2023 Cliff Harris Award 

[LITTLE ROCK, AR] –The Cliff Harris award, generously sponsored by Wright, Lindsey, Jennings LLP, proudly announces the selection of 36 standout student-athletes as finalists for the prestigious 2023 Cliff Harris Award for NCAA Division II. 


year’s finalists represent a talented group from various institutions across the nation, featuring All-Americans and Conference Players of the year for 2023. 

“This year’s group of finalists is one of the most talented and accomplished we’ve ever seen,” said Cliff Harris, the award’s namesake. “It will be challenging to narrow this down to a single individual after reviewing the sensational seasons these players just finished.” 

The finalists are: 

  1. Jamae Blank – JR – UNC-Pembroke 
  2. Jayden Broughton – JR – Benedict College 
  3. Peyton Buckley – JR – Augustana (SD) University 
  4. Garrett Cox – JR – Millersville (Pa.) University 
  5. Micah Cretsinger – JR – Saginaw Valley State University 
  6. Loobert Denelus – SR – Benedict College 
  7. Dioh Desuah – SR – Seton Hill University 
  8. Willie Drew – SR – Virginia State 
  9. Nick Evans – SR – University of Charleston (W.Va.) 
  10. Marquise Fleming – JR – Wingate University 
  11. Marcus Hansen – SO – Bemidji State 
  12. Robert Holtz – SR – Tiffin University 
  13. Landon Honeycutt – SO – Mars Hill University 
  14. Giye Jenkins – JR – University of New Haven 
  15. Josiah Johnson – JR – Ouachita Baptist University 
  16. Hayden Kelly – SR – University of Texas Permian Basin 
  17. Mikael King – SO – Tuskegee (Ala.) University 
  18. Maven Kretche – JR – Minnesota State-Mankato 
  19. Gary Lewis – SO – Henderson State University 
  20. Salvatore Lupoli Jr – JR – Bentley (Mass.) University 
  21. Landry Mavungu – SR – University of Indianapolis 
  22. Christian McCarroll – SR – Grand Valley State 
  23. John McMullen – SR – University of West Florida 
  24. Eddie Miller Garrett – SR – Ohio Dominican 
  25. Rossy Moore – JR – University of Mount Union 
  26. Rico Payton – SR – Pittsburg State University 
  27. Andrew Pitts – SO – Angelo State University 
  28. Nolan Reeve – SR – Colorado School of Mines 
  29. Cam Rice – SO – West Liberty University 
  30. Clay Schueffner – SR – Winona State University 
  31. Melvin Smith Jr – JR – Southern Arkansas University 
  32. Shon Stephens – SR – Ferris State University 
  33. Dakari Streeter – SR – Missouri Western State University 
  34. Tanner Volk – JR – Central Washington 
  35. Nathaniel Wallace – SR – Harding University 
  36. Tyler Whary – SR – Kutztown University 

These exceptional athletes have demonstrated outstanding performance and commitment to their teams throughout the season, embodying the spirit of the Cliff Harris Award. The winner for DII will be announced on Thursday, December 28th at noon Central Time. 

For media inquiries, interviews, or additional information, please contact: 

David Bazzel or Debbie Wyman– Little Rock Touchdown Club- 

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About the Cliff Harris Award: The Cliff Harris Award is an annual recognition program dedicated to celebrating exceptional defensive players in small college football. Named after NFL Hall of Famer Cliff Harris, the award acknowledges players who exhibit excellence on and off the field. 

The Trophy: One of the most unique awards in all of college football, the $3,000 Cliff Harris Award trophy stands almost two foot tall and weighs 35 pounds. A rare two figurine sports action bronze sculpture, the Cliff Harris Award represents an actual tackle by NFL Hall of 

Fame and Dallas Cowboy great Cliff Harris, against Harold Jackson of the Los Angeles Rams. What makes this trophy truly exceptional is its intricate design, showcasing extreme angles and attachment points that secure the two bronze players to a three-tier walnut wood base, setting it apart from any other trophy in all levels of college football. Crafted from fourteen distinct bronze pieces, its assembly process ranks among the most intricate and complex in sports awards. Every winner from DII, DIII and NAIA will receive their own Cliff Harris Award trophy. Sculpted by Raymond Gibby and designed by David Bazzel, this trophy embodies excellence in both craftsmanship and football achievement. 

Over the last decade, many of the finalists and winners have continued their outstanding football careers in the National Football League. 

  • Pierre Desir (Lindenwood, winner ’13) 
  • Malcom Butler (West Alabama, finalist ’13) 
  • Marqui Christian (Midwestern State, winner ’15) 
  • Matthew Judon (Grand Valley State, finalist ’15) 
  • Michael Joeseph (Dubuque, winner ’17) 
  • Corey Ballentine (Washburn, winner ’18) 
  • Kyle Duggar (Lenoir-Rhyne, winner ’19) 
  • Sam Roberts (Northwest Missouri State, winner ’21) 
  • Caleb Murphy (Ferris State, winner ’22) 

For more information about the Cliff Harris Award and to stay updated on the latest news and developments, please visit