CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - University of Illinois junior defensive end Whitney Mercilus was named to the Associated Press All-America first team Wednesday, bringing his total of All-America honors to 10 and his first-team All-America laurels to nine. He also won the Hendricks Award, given annually to the nation's top defensive end, and was a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy.
Mercilus becomes the first first-team AP All-American from Illinois since offensive lineman Martin O'Donnell in 2007 and is the first Illini defensive player to earn first-team AP laurels since linebacker Kevin Hardy in 1995. Mercilus leads the nation in sacks (14.5), sacks per game (1.21) and forced fumbles (9) in 2011. He also is tied for fifth in the nation and leads the Big Ten in tackles for loss with 19.5.
When Illinois plays in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on Dec. 31, Merclius will need two sacks to break Simeon Rice's single-season school record of 16 and two forced fumbles to break the singe-season NCAA record of 10.
Full 2011 AP All-America Teams: http://bit.ly/2011AP-AA
Mercilus Postseason Honors in 2011 (as of Dec. 14)
Ted Hendricks National Defensive End of the Year Award winner
Bill Willis Defensive Lineman of the Year Award winner
First-Team All-American (AP, FWAA, Walter Camp, AFCA, CBSSports.com, ESPN.com, Phil Steele, SI.com, Yahoo.com)
Honorable Mention All-American (Pro Football Weekly)
Bronko Nagurski Trophy Finalist
Bednarik Award and Rotary Lombardi Award Semifinalist
First-Team All-Big Ten (Coaches and Media)