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SIU defensive end Anthony Knighton (95) pressures Mississippi Valley State quarterback Jett Even (3) in the first half at Saluki Stadium this season.

CARBONDALE — Anthony Knighton, a redshirt freshman defensive end at SIU, finished 11th in the voting for the Jerry Rice Award as the nation's top freshman in the FCS.

Kennesaw State linebacker Bryson Armstrong became the first defensive player to win the STATS FCS Jerry Rice Award on Tuesday, edging Yale running back Zane Dudek by a single point in the voting (347-346) for the nation's best freshman.

Armstrong is tied for the national high with four fumble recoveries, set a Big South record with 11 sacks and led KSU in total tackles (114), solo tackles (85), tackles for loss (12.5) while also tying for second with three interceptions. 

Knighton received two first-place votes, one second-place vote, two third-place votes, seven fourth-place votes and 11 fifth-place votes to finish with 45 points. 

Knighton, a member of the Valley Football All-Newcomer Team, set SIU freshman records and led all MVFC freshmen in sacks (6.5) and tackles for loss (11.0) this season. The Fort Pierce, Florida, native, is the first Jerry Rice Award Finalist in Saluki football history. He ranked third nationally among freshmen in tackles for loss and was fourth in sacks.

— Todd Hefferman

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Sports reporter

Todd Hefferman has covered SIU athletics since 2008. A University of Iowa grad, he is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and a Heisman Trophy voter.

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