CEDAR CITY, Utah, Nov. 20 - Southern Utah University freshmen Zak Browning and James Cowser have been named two of the 20 finalists for the Jerry Rice Award, given each year to the top freshman football player at the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision.

Browning, a linebacker from Camas, Wash. (Union HS) was the top freshman tackler in the nation this season with 11.6 tackles per game. He led the Thunderbirds and the Big Sky Conference with 116 total tackles. His per-game average ranked second in the Big Sky and seventh in the nation, overall. He had seven games with 10 or more tackles, including an 18-tackle performance at Montana and 15-tackle tallies against Montana State and Eastern Washington. The 18 tackles are the second-most in a game by an SUU freshman during its NCAA era.

Cowser, a defensive end from (Davis HS) led the nation's freshmen with 0.68 sacks per game this season, and he was second among freshmen with 1.23 tackles for loss per game. He paced the Thunderbirds and was fifth in the Big Sky in sacks with 7.5 and he was tied for third in the BSC (and second on the team) in tackles for loss with 13.5, numbers which ranked 25th and 27th in the nation. His 7.5 total sacks this year are the most ever by a freshman in SUU history. Cowser finished the season with 61 total tackles, which was fifth on the squad and tops among defensive linemen.

Earlier on Tuesday Browning was named the Big Sky Conference Newcomer of the Year and Cowser earned honorable mention all-Big Sky honors.

The duo give SUU three Rice Award finalists in the past two seasons, as wide receiver Brady Measom was on the list last year.

-- SUU --