Amukamara Leads Six First-Team All-Big 12 Selections
The All-Big 12 Conference football teams and individual award winners were announced on Tuesday morning with six Nebraska players being named first-team all-conference selections. Selections are made by the league’s 12 head coaches, who are not permitted to vote for their own players.
The first-team selections were led by senior cornerback Prince Amukamara, who was chosen as the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. This marks the second consecutive year Nebraska has captured the defensive award following Ndamukong Suh in 2009. It is also the fourth time in 15 years NU has won the Defensive Player of the Year, after Grant Wistrom won the honor in both 1996 and 1997. Amukamara is only the third defensive back to win the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honor and the first since Terence Newman of Kansas State in 2002.
Amukamara headlined three Huskers who won individual awards from the Big 12. Junior linebacker Lavonte David, the league’s second-leading tackler, was selected as Newcomer of the Year, and freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez was chosen as the Offensive Freshman of the Year.
Amukamara is among the national leaders in pass breakups with 13, and is a key to the Blackshirt defense ranking second nationally in both pass efficiency defense and passing yards allowed per game. The 6-1, 205-pound senior was one of five Blackshirts honored as first-team All-Big 12 picks, making the team for the second straight year. The first-team defenders have helped Nebraska lead the Big 12 and rank fifth nationally in total defense.
Nebraska’s six first-team All-Big 12 selections were it most since 2000, and the five defensive first-teamers is the most on one side of the ball since NU also had five first-team defenders in 1996, the inaugural season of the Big 12.
Junior defensive tackle Jared Crick was a first-team selection for the second straight season. The 6-6, 285-pound Crick has 60 tackles, including 14 tackles for loss and a team-high 7.5 sacks. Defensive end Pierre Allen made the All-Big 12 team for the first time. The Denver native has 51 tackles, including 10 tackles for loss, and a team-high 11 quarterback hurries in his senior season.
David was a first-team selection in his first year at Nebraska. The junior linebacker has racked up 128 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 10 pass breakups and six sacks. He is the second Husker to be named Newcomer of the Year, joining Scott Frost, who captured Offensive Newcomer of the Year honors as a quarterback in 1996. The final first-team defensive selection was senior defensive back Eric Hagg. The versatility of the Peoria, Ariz., native has been crucial for the Nebraska defense. Hagg has 38 tackles, a team-high five interceptions and four pass breakups.
The Nebraska offense featured one first-team All-Big 12 selection in senior offensive guard Ricky Henry. The play of Henry has helped Nebraska lead the Big 12 and rank eighth nationally in rushing offense at 269.2 yards per game.
In addition to the first-team selections, five Huskers were chosen as second-team All-Big 12 honorees, including Omaha seniors Alex Henery and Niles Paul, who made the second unit at two positions.
The most accurate kicker in NCAA history, Henery was a second-team pick for the third straight season at place-kicker. He has connected on 16-of-17 field goals this season and is perfect on 51 PAT attempts, while tying Kris Brown for the school’s all-time scoring record with 388 points. Henery also made the second team as a punter. He averages 43.5 yards per punt and has downed 23 of his punts inside the 20-yard line.
The 6-1, 220-pound Paul made the second team as a receiver and kick returner. Paul has 39 catches for 516 yards and a touchdown this season and is among the top five receivers in school history. Paul also averages 25.2 yards per kickoff return and 11.4 yards on punt returns.
Senior I-back Roy Helu Jr. also made the second-team offense after posting his second straight 1,000-yard rushing season. Helu Jr. has 1,120 yards and 10 touchdowns and averages 6.7 yards per rush. He racked up four 100-yard rushing games, including a school-record 307 yards against Missouri.
Defensively, sophomore end Cameron Meredith and junior cornerback Alfonzo Dennard were chosen as second-team picks. Meredith has 54 tackles, including eight tackles for loss, and 10 quarterback hurries on the season. Dennard ranks second on the team with four interceptions, and has added 23 tackles and six pass breakups.
Quarterback Taylor Martinez is the first Husker to capture the Offensive Freshman-of-the-Year award. Martinez has rushed for 974 yards and 12 touchdowns on the season, while averaging 7.3 yards per carry. He is second among all Nebraska freshman in rushing yards in a season and his 1,435 passing yards is the most ever by a Nebraska freshman. Martinez is 26 rushing yards shy of becoming the third freshman quarterback in NCAA history to rush and pass for 1,000 yards in a season.
Six Huskers earned honorable-mention All-Big 12 honors. On offense, the honorees included Martinez, junior center Mike Caputo, senior offensive guard Keith Williams and sophomore I-back Rex Burkhead. On defense, senior defensive back DeJon Gomes and sophomore defensive tackle Baker Steinkuhler were honored.