Illinois' Mercilus Wins Hendricks Award

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The Ted Hendricks Foundation announced that Illinois junior Whitney Mercilus is the 2011 recipient of the Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award. Mercilus leads the nation in sacks, sacks per game and forced fumbles while ranking sixth nationally in tackles for loss per game. He becomes Illinois' first major national award winner since Dana Howard (1994) and Kevin Hardy (1995) won the Butkus Award in back-to-back years. Mercilus is also the second Big Ten standout to win the Hendricks Award since it was first awarded in 2002, joining 2006 honoree LaMarr Woodley of Michigan. Mercilus garnered over 50 percent of the vote from current and former college coaches, former players, media members and pro football personnel professionals. On-field performance, leadership abilities and contributions to school and community are some of the criteria used to determine the award winner.

A native of Akron, Ohio, Mercilus is one of college football's breakout players in 2011, as he has 52 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, 14.5 sacks, nine forced fumbles and six quarterback hurries. Mercilus has already has broken the Illinois and Big Ten single-season records for forced fumbles and is one shy of tying the NCAA record of 10. He also is 1.5 sacks away from tying former two-time All-America Simeon Rice's school season record of 16 sacks. He has had at least one sack in 10 of 12 games this season, including a career-high three against Indiana, and has forced a fumble in four straight games.

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