Mercilus is one of 7 unanimous consensus first-team All-Americans in 2011.
Jan. 10, 2012
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Former University of Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus earned consensus first-team All-America honors in 2011, becoming the 20th player in the storied history of Illinois football to earn that distinction.
Mercilus was one of seven unanimous consensus All-America selections in 2011, garnering first team honors by all five organizations used by the NCAA: American Football Coaches Association, Associated Press, Football Writers Association of America, The Sporting News and Walter Camp Foundation. To earn consensus All-America status, a player has to be named first team on at least two of the five selected All-American teams and must have the most first-team honors among all players at his position. Second- and third-team selections were used to break ties.
Illinois' last consensus All-American was linebacker J Leman in 2007. In all, 20 Illinois players have earned consensus All-America status on 25 different occasions. Red Grange (1923-25), Dick Butkus (1963-64) and Moe Gardner (1989-90) were consensus choices multiple times.
Mercilus had a remarkable year for the Fighting Illini, tying Simeon Rice's single-season record and leading the nation with 16 sacks. He also forced nine fumbles on the season, breaking Illinois and Big Ten records and ranking as the second-most in NCAA history. His 22.5 tackles for loss in 2011 led the Big Ten, ranked second in the nation and third in the Illinois record book.
Mercilus won the Hendricks Award as the nation's top defensive end and was named the College Football Performance Awards National Defensive Player of the Year. A 2011 season captain for the Fighting Illini, Mercilus helped Illinois to its second-straight winning season and a victory over UCLA in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. He also led an Illinois defense that ranked in the top-10 nationally in total defense (seventh), passing defense (third), sacks (sixth) and tackles for loss (fourth).
Mercilus announced on Jan. 3 that he will forgo his senior season at Illinois to enter the 2012 NFL Draft.
All-Time Illinois Consensus All-Americans
Ralph Chapman, G, 1914
Perry Graves, E, 1914
Bart Macomber, HB, 1915
John Depler, C, 1918
Charles Carney, E, 1920
Jim McMillen, G, 1923
Harold "Red" Grange, HB, 1923, 24, 25
Bernie Shively, G, 1926
Alex Agase, G, 1946
Johnny Karras, HB, 1951
J. C. Caroline, HB, 1953
Bill Burrell, G, 1959
Dick Butkus, C, 1963, 64
Jim Grabowski, FB, 1965
David Williams, WR, 1984, 85
Moe Gardner, NT, 1989, 90
Dana Howard, LB, 1994
Kevin Hardy, LB, 1995
J Leman, LB, 2007
Whitney Mercilus, DE, 2011
Mercilus' Postseason Honors in 2011
Consensus First-Team All-American (AP, FWAA, Walter Camp, AFCA, CBSSports.com, ESPN.com, Phil Steele, SI.com, Yahoo.com)
Ted Hendricks National Defensive End of the Year Award winner
Bill Willis Defensive Lineman of the Year Award winner
College Football Performance Award National Defensive Player of the Year
Bronko Nagurski Trophy Finalist
Bednarik Award and Rotary Lombardi Award Semifinalist
First-Team All-Big Ten (Coaches and Media)