Rashard Mendenhall averaged 127 yards per game rushing in 2007.
Dec. 7, 2007
University of Illinois junior running back Rashard Mendenhall has been named the Chicago Tribune's Silver Football winner for the 2007 season. The Chicago Tribune has been awarding the Silver Football to the Big Ten's Most Valuable Player since 1924, but an Illini has only been selected for the award seven times in 83 years. The last Illinois player to earn the award was defensive tackle Don Thorp in 1983.
Mendenhall was a large reason for the Illinois turnaround in 2007. Through 12 games, the Illini have won nine contests, which marks the largest turnaround in school history and in college football this season. Although the Illini led the Big Ten in rushing in 2006, the team surpassed all expectations with 266.2 yards per game, thanks to the 127 ypg of Mendenhall. The squad averaged 5.7 yards per carry as a team and Mendenhall posted 6.4 per carry. Both numbers rank third in the nation.
Mendenhall also aided the Illini in surpassing the 3,000-yard rushing mark for the first time in school history. He broke three Illinois rushing records, single-season rushing yards, 100-yard rushing games and toudchdowns scored.
The Illini junior running back is in good company for the award alongside winners like Troy Smith of Ohio State in 2006, Penn State's Michael Robinson in 2005 and Braylon Edwards of Michigan in 2005.
ILLINOIS' SILVER FOOTBALL WINNERS: