Defender of the Nation Award
2018 DEFENDER OF THE NATION WINNER
2017 DEFENDER OF THE NATION WINNER
2016 DEFENDER OF THE NATION WINNER
The recipient of The Defender of the Nation Award will be selected from one of the nation’s military academies including Air Force Academy, The Citadel, Coast Guard Academy, Naval Academy, Norwich University, Texas A&M University, Virginia Tech, VMI and West Point and is based on exceptional leadership qualities on the field, in the classroom and in the community. The recipient must also exhibit a high standard of integrity by leading through example.
THE INDEPENDENCE FUND:
Moving Our Nation’s Wounded Heroes Towards Greater Independence!
The Independence Fund’s mission is to support the Nation’s injured and wounded Veterans with the tools to achieve their independence and freedoms they have fought so hard to preserve! It is a laser focused non-profit organization that provides independence to severely wounded Veterans through mobility, wellness, and caregiver support. Those who sacrifice for our country do so willingly with great pride and honor, and it is our privilege to serve them!
“The Independence Fund was established to make a lasting impact on our nation’s veterans who have gone to extreme lengths to serve and defend our country,” said Dr. Richard Jadick, chairman, The Independence Fund. “We are proud to sponsor the inaugural Defender of the Nation Award, which celebrates our nation’s military academies and the athletes who demonstrate exceptional dedication and leadership on and off the field.”
MASTER SGT. JOHN MASSON:
Watch Master Sgt. John Masson accept a trackchair from The Independence Fund at the 2017 Brokno Nagurski Banquet:
2018 DEFENDER OF THE NATION WINNER: GREG SANDERS
Sean Williams is a two-year returning starter at safety who was elected team co-captain for the 2018 season by his teammates, which is one of the highest honors one can receive at the Naval Academy. Sean has earned three varsity letters.
- A starter in 32 games over his career
- His five forced fumbles in seven games is tied for the most in the country
- Recorded a season-best 11 tackles against Notre Dame, including 10 solo stops
- Also forced a fumble against the Irish
- Paced the team with 7 tackles against Houston, while forcing a fumble and intercepting a pass and returning it 21 yards
- Turned in 5 tackles and broke up a pass at Air Force
- Named the AAC Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 10 after leading Navy with 9 tackles, including 7 solo stops and recorded 2 of Navy’s 3 forced fumbles against Memphis in the AAC opener
- He is the first Navy player to force 2 fumbles in the same game since Will Anthony in 2015.
- A starter in 12 games as a junior
- A 2017 Honorable Mention All-American Athletic Conference selection
- Finished second on the team in tackles with 76, including 2.5 tackles for loss
- Intercepted a pass, broke up four passes, recovered a fumble and forced a fumble on the year
- Was in on two tackles and intercepted a pass for the second time in his career in the Mids’ win over Virginia in the Military Bowl
- Recorded seven tackles against Army
- Turned in a season-high 11 tackles against UCF.
- A starter in 12 of the 14 games in which he played
- Was third on the team in tackles with 74 (50-24), while also breaking up a pair of passes and intercepting one
- Led the team in fumbles recovered with three
- Posted three tackles against LA Tech in the Armed Forces Bowl
- Led Navy with a career-high 14 tackles against Army, while also recovering a pair of fumbles and intercepting a pass
- Produced five tackles, including a tackle for loss, against Temple in the AAC Championship Game
- A member of the Mids’ special teams, he saw action in 11 games and made one start at corner
- Finished the year with 13 tackles and a pass breakup
- Making his first collegiate appearance, he earned the start at cornerback in the Mids’ opener against Colgate where he made four stops and broke up a pass.