NFL Draft pick Rex Burkhead earned national awards in the classroom and community.
Photo by BreAnna Haessler/NU Media Relations

All-Americans, Postgrad Scholars Highlight Husker Academic Success

By NU Athletic Communications
University of Nebraska student-athletes produced another outstanding year in 2012-13, continuing NU’s tradition of academic success. The Huskers added eight more CoSIDA Academic All-Americans to their nation-leading total of 307 across all teams and all sports.
A record 705 awards were issued for the Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Fall (381) and Spring (324) Honor Roll, recognizing Husker student-athletes who produced a 3.0 GPA or better during a semester. Among that group, Huskers produced 84 perfect 4.0 GPA semesters. A total of 68 Nebraska student-athletes also were honored as Big Ten Distinguished Scholars for posting 3.7 grade-point averages or better and lettering in their respective sports in 2012-13.
Nebraska’s eight CoSIDA Academic All-Americans led the Big Ten Conference and ranked among the highest totals in the nation across all divisions. The Huskers maintained their lead of 76 all-time CoSIDA Academic All-Americans over national No. 2 Notre Dame. During the year, Nebraska became the first school in history to reach 300 all-time academic All-Americans, and is one of just three schools across all divisions with 200 or more, joining Notre Dame and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). NU leads the nation in CoSIDA Academic All-Americans since 2000 with 117, extending its nation-leading streak to 42 consecutive years with at least one academic All-American.
Nebraska’s CoSIDA Academic All-America success continues to set the standard for the approximately 1,400 member institutions. The Husker football team leads all individual sport programs in the nation with 104 all-time CoSIDA Academic All-America awards, including 2012 first-team honorees Rex Burkhead and second-team selection Sean Fisher. Burkhead and Fisher became two of the nation-leading 70 two-time Husker academic All-Americans across all sports. Burkhead added a prestigious Nationall Football Foundation Postgraduate Scholarship worth $18,000, while Fisher claimed an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship worth $7,500. Burkhead also was named the captain of the AFCA Good Works Team for his extensive community involvement.
The Nebraska men’s and women’s track and field program added three academic All-Americans, including Bjorn Barrefors - the first four-time CoSIDA Academic All-American in school history. Barrefors, who was also Nebraska’s 2013 Male Student-Athlete of the Year and an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship winner, earned first-team accolades for the third consecutive season. He was joined on the academic All-America team by women’s track and field student-athletes Mara Griva and Morgan Wilken, who both earned second-team awards. The 35 combined academic All-America honors since 2002 for the men’s and women’s track and field program lead the nation.
The Nebraska wrestling team added first-team CoSIDA Academic All-American Josh Ihnen, who also claimed his second academic All-America award, while the Husker volleyball team contributed first-team academic All-American Gina Mancuso, who added recognition as a Senior CLASS Award winner. Emily Wong, an eight-time All-American in competition for the Nebraska women’s gymnastics team, added a second-team CoSIDA Academic All-America award. The 2013 Big Ten all-around champion, Wong will return for her senior season in 2013-14.
Burkhead, Fisher Raise Nebraska’s Nation-Leading
Football Academic All-America Total to 104
Senior I-back Rex Burkhead and senior linebacker Sean Fisher became the 25th and 26th two-time CoSIDA Academic All-American in the illustrious history of Nebraska football when they claimed honors for the second straight season in 2012. Burkhead, who closed his career as the No. 5 all-time leading rusher in Nebraska football history with 3,329 yards, became just the 14th Husker football player to win two first-team academic All-America awards. The Plano, Texas, native earned his bachelor’s degree as a history major in December of 2012, before being selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Fisher contributed second-team CoSIDA Academic All-America honors to the Husker program after appearing in all 14 games. Fisher, who made five starts at linebacker, notched 48 tackles on the season. The pre-medicine/business administration major from Omaha, Neb., earned his bachelor’s degree in May of 2013 and plans to attend medical school.
Burkhead and Fisher were two of Nebraska’s 28 academic All-Big Ten selections in 2012, and were among the 27 Husker football players who earned bachelor’s degrees from Nebraska in 2012-13.
Barrefors Becomes Nebraska’s First
Four-Time CoSIDA Academic All-American
Bjorn Barrefors made history for the Nebraska track and field program by becoming the school’s first four-time CoSIDA Academic All-American in 2013. A six-time All-American as a multi-eventer for Coach Gary Pepin’s squad, Barrefors was a three-time first-team academic All-America selection. The native of Stockholm, Sweden, was Nebraska’s 2013 Male Student-Athlete of the Year and claimed a prestigious Big Ten Medal of Honor. It marked the third consecutive year that a men’s track and field athlete was named NU’s male student-athlete of the year. An NCAA Postgraduate Scholar, Barrefors was a two-time team captain and a member of two conference championship teams as a Husker.
Mara Griva closed her outstanding Husker career as a second-team academic All-American. The native of Ventspils, Latvia, was a 10-time All-American for the Huskers, while sweeping the Big Ten long and triple jump titles both indoors and outdoors in 2013. She was named the 2013 Big Ten Outdoor Female Field Athlete of the Year. The management/marketing major was a two-time academic All-Big Ten selection.
Morgan Wilken added second-team CoSIDA Academic All-America honors, joining Griva as a first-time winner in 2013. A two-time All-American in the discus from Crofton, Neb., Wilken was a mathematics and math education major who earned a pair of academic All-Big Ten honors.
Outdoor track and field competitors John Welk and Anne Martin also captured NCAA Elite 89 awards, which are given to the student-athletes with the highest cumulative grade-point averages competing in their respective NCAA championships.
The men’s and women’s track and field and cross country programs produced 38 academic All-Big Ten selections in 2012-13 and have churned out five of Nebraska’s six student-athletes of the year over the last three years.
Nebraska Claims 188 Academic All-Big Ten Awards
Across all sports, Nebraska student-athletes captured 188 academic All-Big Ten selections, including conference-leading totals from the women’s gymnastics (9) and men’s golf (7) teams.
Husker teams ranked among the top two in the conference in academic All-Big Ten choices across six sports, including women’s gymnastics, men’s golf, baseball (15), wrestling (9), men’s gymnastics (9) and rifle (4).
Over the past five years, Nebraska has amassed more than 900 academic all-conference certificates across all sports.
Husker student-athletes also earned a school-record 705 spots on the Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll during the fall or spring semesters of 2012-13. To earn a spot on the honor roll, a student-athlete must earn a 3.0 grade-point average during the semester. During the fall or spring semesters, 84 Husker student-athletes produced perfect 4.0 semester GPAs.
A total of 68 Husker student-athletes captured Big Ten Conference Distinguished Scholar awards. Those student-athletes produced 3.7 or better grade-point averages during the fall and spring semesters of 2012-13, while also earning letters in their respective sports.
More Than 250 Huskers Honored at 23rd Annual Student-Athlete Recognition Banquet
The University of Nebraska Athletic Department took one special night to honor its own student-athletes at the 23rd annual Student-Athlete Recognition Banquet. A total of 255 honor medallions were presented to Husker student-athletes.
In addition to Bjorn Barrefors and Mary Weatherholt earning Nebraska’s top individual honors as Student-Athletes of the Year, Coach Bill Spangler’s men’s golf team (3.648 GPA) and Coach Scott Jacobson’s women’s tennis team (3.793 GPA) claimed the 19th annual Herman Awards. The awards are presented to the Husker teams with the top team grade-point averages. It marked the fifth award for the women’s tennis program in the past nine years, while the men’s golf team claimed its fourth award in the history of the program, including the third straight honor.
Weatherholt capped the most brilliant women’s tennis career in NU history with her success both on and off the court. The two-time Big Ten Women’s Tennis Athlete of the Year became the first player in Nebraska history to earn All-America honors as a singles player on her way to NCAA runner-up honors. She added All-America accolades while teaming with Patricia Veresova to advance to the NCAA quarterfinals in doubles action. Weatherholt captained the Huskers to their first NCAA Sweet 16 appearance as a team and the program’s first conference title since 1978. She also claimed one of the top individual honors in collegiate tennis with the ITA/Cissie Leary National Award for Sportsmanship. She earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Nebraska in May of 2012.
The hard work, dedication and commitment of Nebraska’s student-athletes in the classroom resulted in 109 current or former student-athletes earning their bachelor’s degrees from August of 2012 through May of 2013.
Nebraska Life Skills Program Continues
Innovative Approach to Community Outreach
In the community, Husker student-athletes from all sports combined to complete more than 200 individual outreach requests and over 50 team outreach events impacting several thousand people in and around Lincoln.
Recognizing their influence on youth, student-athletes served as motivational speakers for Middle School Matters, American Education Week and School is Cool assemblies to promote the importance of education and responsible choices. Husker student-athletes participated in weekly mentoring programs to serve as role-models to Lincoln Public Schools students and assisted several non-profit organizations to promote awareness for various causes. This year, the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame Foundation collaborated with the University of Nebraska Athletic Department to host the first combined Sportsmanship 4 Life Pep Rally, which impacted an estimated 1,700 middle school students.
In the fall of 2012, the Husker Life Seminar in partnership with the College of Education and Human Sciences entered its fourth year as a requirement for every incoming Husker student-athlete. Nearly 200 student-athletes completed the seminar, which focused on the transition to college life while learning skills to succeed as college students.
The Life Skills staff continues to coordinate a number of major life skills events focusing on personal and career development. Student-athletes attended annual events, including the Student-Athlete Career Fair, Involvement Fair, Financial Forum, Networking Night, Career Clinics and Tom Osborne Senior Session. A new addition in 2012-13 was the Part-Time Employment Internship Fair designed to assist student-athletes with summer employment and internship opportunities. All events are aimed at promoting total personal development and preparation for life after sports.
The 2012-13 season marked the 10th year of the Huskers’ innovative Life Skills Award of Excellence Team Competition, which includes winners from both men’s and women’s divisions. Coach Mark Manning’s Nebraska wrestling team captured the award on the men’s side, while Coach Pablo Morales’ swimming and diving team claimed the honor on the women’s side for the second consecutive season.
The Life Skills Award honors the teams demonstrating the strongest commitment to all phases of the Life Skills Program, including outreach, education and leadership. The award was presented at the annual Nebraska Student-Athlete Recognition Banquet in April.
Thirty Husker student-athlete leaders were also recognized at the annual HERO Leadership Breakfast, honoring those who have consistently gone above and beyond establishing themselves as excellent leaders and role models. Ben Cotton from the Nebraska football team and Kelsey Larson from the Husker swimming and diving team and Mary Weatherholt from the Nebraska women’s tennis team received the prestigious Heart and Soul Award, which recognizes exemplary community service and leadership.
2012-13 Nebraska Academic Highlights
307 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans (all time, all sports, leads nation)
        104 Football CoSIDA Academic All-Americans (leads all sports)
        37 Volleyball CoSIDA Academic All-Americans (leads all women's sports)
        29 Softball CoSIDA Academic All-Americans (No. 2 among all women's sports)
        35 Men's & Women's Track & Field/Cross Country Combined
              CoSIDA Academic All-Americans (leads nation since CoSIDA added team in 2002)
8 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans in 2012-13 (4 first team, 4 second team)
        First Team: Bjorn Barrefors (Men's Track & Field), Rex Burkhead (Football), Josh Ihnen
                              (Wrestling), Gina Mancuso (Volleyball)
        Second Team: Sean Fisher (Football), Mara Griva (Women's Track & Field),
                              Morgan Wilken (Women's Track & Field), Emily Wong (Women's Gymnastics)
National Football Foundation Postgraduate Scholarship ($18,000) - Rex Burkhead (Football)
NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship ($7,500) -
        Sean Fisher (Football), Bjorn Barrefors (Track & Field)
Big Ten Postgraduate Scholarship ($7,500) -
        Conor McDermott (Football), Megan Southworth (Softball)
AFCA Good Works Team (Captain) - Rex Burkhead (Football)
Senior CLASS Award - Gina Mancuso (Volleyball)
NCAA Elite 89 Academic Award - John Welk, Anna Martin (Outdoor Track & Field)
Nebraska Male Student-Athlete of the Year - Bjorn Barrefors (Track & Field)
Nebraska Female Student-Athlete of the Year - Mary Weatherholt (Women's Tennis)
Big Ten Medal of Honor Recipients -
        Bjorn Barrefors (Track & Field), Mary Weatherholt (Women's Tennis)
Big Ten Sportsmanship Award Winners -
        Rex Burkhead (Football), Emily Wong (Women's Gymnastics)
Men's Herman Award Winner - Men's Golf Team (3.648 GPA)
Women's Herman Award Winner - Women's Tennis Team (3.793 GPA)
Life Skills Team Award Winners - Wrestling, Women's Swimming & Diving
705 Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll Selections - Fall (381), Spring (324), 3.0 GPA
188 Academic All-Big Ten Selections Across All Sports (3.0 GPA)
109 Student-Athletes Earned Degrees (August 2012-May 2013)
        (August 2012---13; December 2012---37; May 2013---59)
84 Student-Athletes Earned Perfect 4.0 GPAs - Fall (37) or Spring (47) Semesters
68 Letterwinners Named Big Ten Distinguished Scholars (3.7 GPA or better in 2012-13)


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