A dozen Nebraska players were honored by the Big Ten on Monday, earning all-conference honors as announced by the league office. Three Huskers were named first-team All-Big Ten selections by either the conference coaches or a media panel.
Junior running back Ameer Abdullah and sophomore defensive end Randy Gregory were first-team All-Big Ten selections on both the media and coaches teams. Senior defensive back Ciante Evans joined Abdullah and Gregory on the coaches All-Big Ten first team.
Abdullah has put together one of the top seasons for a running back in Nebraska history. The Homewood, Ala., native has rushed for 1,568 yards and eight touchdowns this season, and finished second in the conference in rushing yards per game. His rushing total is the fifth-best in school history and the best by a Nebraska player since 1997. Abdullah recorded 10 games with 100 or more rushing yards, including seven in Big Ten Conference play.
Abdullah was honored by the Big Ten for the second straight season after earning second-team all-conference honors as a sophomore.
Gregory quickly became one of the Big Ten’s top defenders in his first season in Lincoln. Gregory leads the Big Ten with 9.5 sacks, with 9.0 coming in Big Ten Conference action. Gregory also ranked second in the conference in tackles for loss at 17 and leads Nebraska with 17 quarterback hurries. He also recorded an interception for a touchdown, along with a fumble caused and fumble recovery.
Gregory’s selection marks the fifth time in Bo Pelini’s six seasons as head coach that Nebraska has had a first-team all-conference defensive lineman.
A senior captain, Evans has been the leader of the Nebraska defense this season. The Arlington, Texas native has intercepted four passes, while adding five pass breakups. Evans also has 44 tackles, including 11 tackles for loss and three sacks. The tackles for loss total leads all Big Ten defensive backs, and both his TFL and sack totals are Nebraska position season records.
Evans’ choice as a first-team All-Big Ten performer marks the fifth consecutive year Nebraska has had at least one first-team all-conference defensive back. Last season, Evans was an honorable-mention all-conference pick.
In addition to being a first-team choice on the coaches’ team, Evans was a second-team All-Big Ten pick by the media panel. Two other Huskers earned second-team accolades on Monday. Cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste was a second-team choice on both teams, while senior center Cole Pensick earned second-team honors from the Big Ten coaches.
Baptiste ranks among the league leaders in interceptions with four and pass breakups with 11. He also recorded 35 tackles. Pensick manned the center position for the majority of the season, before splitting time between center and guard late in the season as the NU offensive line battled injuries. The offensive line paved the way for Abdullah’s outstanding season.
Six other Huskers earned honorable-mention all-conference honors on Monday. The coaches’ honorable mention all-conference list included defensive end Jason Ankrah, wide receiver Kenny Bell, safety Corey Cooper and offensive linemen Andrew Rodriguez and Jeremiah Sirles. Honorable-mention choices according to the media panel were Ankrah, Bell, Pensick, Rodriguez, Sirles and place-kicker Pat Smith. Bell and Sirles earned all-conference honors for the second straight year after both being second-team choices in 2012.
Senior fullback C.J. Zimmerer was chosen as Nebraska’s Sportsmanship honoree.
Quotes from Nebraska All-Big Ten Players:
"There’s a lot of great defensive players and defensive backs in the conference, so it is a great honor to be selected to the All-Big Ten team. I’m not out there playing for awards. My goal is always just to be part of a team effort and provide leadership for the young guys on our defense."
"I have to give credit to the relentless play of our offensive line and the rest of my teammates on offense. Any success I've had or honors I receive would not be possible without my teammates and coaches. It is a great honor, but my main focus is on trying to finish off this season strong in our bowl game."
First-Team All-Big Ten: IB Ameer Abdullah (Coaches and Media); DE Randy Gregory (Coaches and Media); DB Ciante Evans (Coaches)
Second-Team All-Big Ten: Evans (Media); CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste (Coaches and Media); C Cole Pensick (Coaches)
Honorable-Mention All-Big Ten: Pensick (Media); DE Jason Ankrah (Coaches and Media); WR Kenny Bell (Coaches and Media); OT Andrew Rodriguez (Coaches and Media); OT Jeremiah Sirles (Coaches and Media); S Corey Cooper (Coaches); PK Pat Smith (Media)