The 2011 Big Ten preseason is underway. And it kicked off in a “BIG” way. This season includes the inaugural conference divisions named Legends and Leaders, the addition of a 12th team the Nebraska Cornhuskers, and absence of a head coach in a red sweater vest. One player the conference is happy to have back is a candidate for nearly every major quarterback award including the Heisman Trophy, Dan Persa of Northwestern. The Senior Quarterback showed up to Big Ten media day in a nice Brooks Brothers suit emphasizing that he is healed from a season ending injury. On November 13, 2010 against the Iowa Hawkeyes, Persa threw 32 for 43 for 318 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. After throwing a 20-yard touchdown pass to Demetrius Fields to win the game in the fourth quarter, Persa suffered an Achilles tendon rupture that required season ending surgery to repair the injury.
Head coach Pat Fitzgerald states: “He’s 100 percent healed from the standpoint of the surgery, now it’s about adding strength, getting the conditioning level up, getting back to having fun.”
Speaking of strength, Persa was named NU’s “Iron Cat” two straight years (2009-10) an honor given to NU’s most productive player in the weight room. “I am real anxious in getting back especially missing the last three games of the year last season. People underestimate us, I believe we are going to be really special this upcoming season,” Persa said.
After shattering the Big Ten single-season record for pass completion percentage and fewest interceptions thrown Persa’s career pass efficiency rating of 155.27 is also a Wildcat best. The well-dressed Heisman Trophy candidate will have the task of leading the Wildcats in the newly named Legends division to the Big Ten Championship game.
The game will be played in Indianapolis, IN at Lucas Oil Stadium against the best team out of the Leaders division. The Legends division includes the addition of a team many predict to win the Big Ten out right, the Nebraska Cornhuskers formally of the Big 12 conference. Northwestern will play at Nebraska on November 5th.
“It is a great atmosphere playing in the Big Ten, it is fun for the fans, it is fun for us, and we are looking forward to it,” Persa said.
Written by West Lamy.
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