Illini Defensive End Whitney Mercilus Wins Top National DE Award

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Illinois junior Whitney Mercilus has won the 2011 Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award. Mercilus led the nation in sacks, sacks per game and forced fumbles while ranking sixth nationally in tackles for loss per game. He becomes the first Illini national award winner since Dana Howard (1994) and Kevin Hardy (1995) won the Butkus Award (best linebacker in college football) in back-to-back years.

With a name like Mercilus, pronounced merciless, you have to be a college football player. And a player at the very aggressive attacking position of defensive end too- that helps. He’s a man with a name built for his role like former Illini OL Eric Block, or current Buffalo Bills DB Reggie Corner.

Mercilus beat out finalists Frank Alexander (Oklahoma), Andre Branch (Clemson), Vinny Curry (Marshall), Sam Montgomery (LSU) and Nick Perry, Jr. (USC), garnering over half the vote from current and former college coaches, former players, media members and pro football personnel professionals.

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Illini Legend Red Grange is Big Ten Icon #1!!!

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Just announced today, the #1 overall sports icon in Big Ten history is…..Red Grange of the Illinois Fighting Illini! The man who was the Babe Ruth of college football and the NFL.  He even had a candy bar named after him; just like Ruth. Grange was named the greatest college football player of all time on New Year’s Day 2008, and he pretty much put the Chicago Bears on the map in the 1920s.

He was so big that required two nicknames, the “Galloping Ghost” which conveyed his immortality. And the “Wheaton Iceman” conveying the everydayness of this 5’10” 175 pound legend. [Read more…]