NIU announced in a news release that three offensive players from Northern Illinois University’s first MAC football championship team in 28 years were named All-American this week by various media organizations. The Huskies (10-3) also have a chance to to tie last year’s school record of 11 wins if they can beat Arkansas State in their bowl game next month.
Senior center Scott Wedige was named a second team All-American by CBSSports.com, quarterback Chandler Harnish earned honorable mention All-America honors from SI.com and left tackle Trevor Olson received fourth team All-America recognition from Phil Steele as all three media outlets recognized the excellence displayed by the Huskie offense in 2011.
Wedige becomes the first Northern Illinois player since Michael Turner in 2003 to be selected as a postseason first or second team All-American. Running back Garrett Wolfe (2006), offensive tackle Doug Free (2006) and defensive end Larry English (2008) were all third team choices with English the last NIU player named to an All-America team.
English is also NIU’s only first-round draft choice (San Diego Chargers).
Wedige and Olson lead an offensive line that ranks fifth in the nation in sacks allowed, having given up only nine sacks in 13 games this season. The Huskies also rank ninth in the nation in rushing offense and 10th in total offense. NIU is averaging 38.3 points per game and scored 40 or more points in nine contests this season. Wedige is a two-year starter while Olson has started a school record 53 consecutive games at left tackle, every NIU game of the last four seasons.
“They are great representatives of the NIU football program on the field and in the classroom.,” coach Dave Doeren said in a university news release. “The body of work they have speaks for itself. To have three players named All-Americans from our offense says a lot about the coaching staff and what our offense was able to do this year in addition to their abilities as players.”
Harnish, the MAC’s 2011 Vern Smith Leadership Award Winner as league MVP, was also a semifinalist for the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award and won a National Football Foundation Scholar Athlete Award and $18,000 postgraduate scholarship. He is the first Huskie quarterback to earn All-America honors of any kind since Stacey Robinson in 1990. Harnish has already set 23 school records. He has run for 1,382 and passed f ro 2,942 yards as a senior, giving him a chance to become the first player in FBS (Division I) history to run for 1,500 yards and pass for 3,000 in the same season if he has a big running day in NIU’s bowl game.
In addition to the three All-America honorees, Northern Illinois kicker Mathew Sims, who set the school record for points scored by a kicker and kicked two game-winning field goals on the season, was an honorable mention choice on College Football News’ All-Sophomore team. Sims made a 33-yard field goal as time expired versus Ohio in the MAC Championship game to give NIU its first title since 1983.
Northern Illinois (10-3) is preparing for a meeting versus Sun Belt Champion Arkansas State (10-2) in the 2012 GoDaddy.com Bowl in Mobile, Ala. on Sunday, Jan. 8. NIU fans can purchase tickets to the game for $45 each online at www.NIUHuskies.com and can see information on travel and fan packages (deadline Friday, Dec. 16) through the Bowl Central link on NIUHuskies.com. The game will air on ESPN and can be heard on WLBK 1360 AM in DeKalb and WSCR 670 AM in Chicago.