Illini fullback Jay Prosch was named a first-team All-American by Pro Football Weekly on Monday.
Dec. 12, 2011
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - University of Illinois sophomore fullback Jay Prosch was named to the Pro Football Weekly All-America first team and junior defensive end Whitney Mercilus was an honorable mention selection, the publication announced Monday. It is the first career honor for Prosch, who has established himself as a consistent force in the Illini run game the past two seasons, and it is Mercilus' seventh All-America honor this season.
Prosch played in all 12 of Illinois' games in 2011, starting five. He helped pave the way for an Illini rushing attack that has been one of the top three in the Big Ten over the past two seasons, as Illinois has averaged 210.12 rushing yards per game during that span. Mercilus leads the nation in sacks (14.5), sacks per game (1.21) and forced fumbles (9). He also is tied for fifth in the nation and leads the Big Ten in tackles for loss with 19.5.
PFW's selection of its All-America team is based on considerable feedback from NFL evaluators, taking into consideration a player's pure talent and contribution to his team. It also places a premium on true talent and draft value in the selection process, and requires that honorees contributed for the bulk of the season.
Mercilus Nabs Willis Award
Mercilus also was named the winner of the 2011 Bill Willis Award, given annually to the nation's top defensive lineman by the Touchdown Club of Columbus. The award is named for the late Bill Willis, who broke the color barrier for African-Americans in both college at Ohio State and in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns. The award will be presented during the 57th Touchdown Club of Columbus Awards Banquet on Saturday, Feb. 11, at the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion in downtown Columbus.
Ted Hendricks National Defensive End of the Year Award winner
Bill Willis Defensive Lineman of the Year Award winner
First-Team All-American (FWAA, Walter Camp, AFCA, CBSSports.com, Yahoo.com, ESPN.com)
Honorable Mention All-American (Pro Football Weekly)
First-Team All-Big Ten (Coaches and Media)
Bronko Nagurski Trophy Finalist
Bednarik Award and Rotary Lombardi Award Semifinalist
First-Team All-American (Pro Football Weekly)