CWU defensive standout presented with coveted national award

  • April 24, 2024
  • David Leder

Central Washington University football standout Tanner Volk was officially presented with the Cliff Harris Award at a ceremony last weekend.

The award for the top small college defensive players in the nation was announced in December, and Volk was the NCAA Division II winner.


“I'm just so honored and humbled to win a prestigious award like this,” said Volk, who led the nation in both interceptions (13) and total tackles (124). “It's just amazing to be here and I'm super excited. It's a great day for small college football.”

Volk was one of 48 finalists for the Division II award, which was held at The Star in Frisco, Texas, and presented by the Little Rock Touchdown Club. The ceremony honored winners from Division II, Division III and the NAIA.

This year marked the first time three winners were selected for the Cliff Harris Award. The award acknowledges players who exhibit excellence on and off the field. The $3,000 Cliff Harris Award trophy stands almost two foot tall and weighs 35 pounds.

Owen Grover out of Wartburg College was the Division III winner and Tristan Waugh from Grand View University was the NAIA honoree.

Tanner Volk and the other award winners

Harris personally presented the trophies to Volk, Grover, and Waugh after touring the Dallas Cowboys facilities.

“What a truly outstanding group of young men we honored today,” said Harris, an NFL Hall of Fame safety for the Cowboys who played college football at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas. “Being able to show them around the Cowboys’ facilities and share stories of our Super Bowl runs in Dallas, while also learning about each one of them and their teams was truly special. I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did.”

Along with winning the Cliff Harris Award, Volk was named a first-team All-American and was the Lonestar Conference Defensive Player of the Year.  The junior safety from Portland was the only defensive player named as a Harlon Hill Award finalist for the best D-II player in the country and finished fourth.

Volk also led the nation with 182 interception return yards, helping the Wildcats advance to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II Playoffs — the team’s best finish since 2009.

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David Leder

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