Big Ten Announces 2007 Football All-Conference Teams and Individual Honors

James Laurinaitis earned Defensive Player of the Year Honors.

James Laurinaitis earned Defensive Player of the Year Honors.

Nov. 19, 2007

Park Ridge, Ill. - The Big Ten announced the 2007 All-Conference football teams and individual award winners tonight as selected by the coaches and a media panel. After leading Ohio State to a third straight conference title for the first time since 1977, linebacker James Laurinaitis was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year by both the coaches and media while defensive end Vernon Gholston was honored as the Defensive Lineman of the Year by the coaches. Michigan offensive tackle Jake Long became the first Big Ten standout to earn back-to-back Offensive Lineman of the Year laurels since 1996 after leading the Wolverines to a second-place finish in the conference standings. Illinois tied Michigan for second in the Big Ten standings and racked up nine overall wins, an improvement of seven triumphs over last season, to sweep the remaining individual honors. The coaches and media selected running back Rashard Mendenhall as the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and chose wide receiver Arrelious Benn as the Freshman of the Year while Ron Zook was the media's pick as the Dave McClain Coach of the Year.

After earning consensus All-America honors last season, Laurinaitis returned to Columbus to spearhead a Buckeyes defense which led the Big Ten in total, rushing, passing and scoring defense during conference play. The Big Ten's preseason Defensive Player of the Year boosted the Buckeyes to a third straight championship for the first time since the 1977 season and back-to-back outright titles for the first time since 1954 and 1955. In all games, the junior linebacker led Ohio State with 103 tackles while also collecting 8.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, two interceptions and a fumble recovery in 12 games. Laurinaitis is the third Buckeye in the past five years to be named Defensive Player of the Year by both the coaches and the media along with A.J. Hawk in 2005 and Will Smith in 2003. Laurinaitis, the reigning Nagurski Trophy winner as the nation's top defender, is a finalist for the Butkus Award and Nagurski Trophy and a semifinalist for the Walter Camp Player of the Year, Bednarik and Lombardi Awards.


 

 

Gholston led the Big Ten with 10.0 sacks during conference play to become the fifth Buckeye to nab Defensive Lineman of the Year laurels and the first since Smith was honored in 2003. In all games, the junior defensive end ranked second in the conference and sixth nationally with 13.0 sacks to equal the school single-season record set by Mike Vrabel in 1995, when he won the first of two straight Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year awards. Gholston was part of a pass-rushing unit which tied for second in the Big Ten and fourth nationally with 42 sacks on the season. OSU currently tops the country in all games by allowing only 10.7 points, 225.2 yards of total offense and 148.2 yards of passing offense per game while ranking third nationally by giving up only 77.1 rushing yards per outing.

Long becomes just the fourth standout in conference history to collect back-to-back Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year accolades, a prestigious group that includes Ohio State's Orlando Pace (1995-96) and Korey Stringer (1993-94) and Michigan State's Tony Mandarich (1987-88). The senior offensive tackle gives the Wolverines three Offensive Lineman of the Year awards in the last four seasons, as David Baas was honored in 2004. Other Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year honorees from Michigan include guard Steve Hutchinson (2000) and tackles Jon Jansen (1998) and Greg Skrepenak (1991).

Mendenhall shattered the Illinois school single-season records for rushing yards and touchdowns to become the first Fighting Illini standout to be named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. The junior running back led the Big Ten with 1,526 rushing yards in all games this season to surpass the school's single-season record of 1,330 yards set by Antoineo Harris in 2002. Mendenhall added 16 rushing scores to break the previous program-high of 15 touchdowns established by Howard Griffith in 1990. Illinois ranked sixth in the country with 266.2 rushing yards per contest. In conference games only, the Illini led the Big Ten in rushing for the first time since 1953 with 262.0 yards per outing. Mendenhall is a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award, given to the nation's top player, and the Doak Walker Award, earned by the country's top running back.

Benn becomes Illinois' first offensive player to earn Freshman of the Year accolades and the second Illini to be so honored along with defensive end Simeon Rice, who picked up the award from the media only in 1992. The freshman wide receiver leads the team with 49 receptions and 596 receiving yards and 235 kickoff return yards, including a 90-yard touchdown sprint against Penn State. Benn has established new Illinois freshman records in both receptions and receiving yards, breaking the previous high of 511 yards by Brandon Lloyd in 1999 and 43 catches by Ty Douthard in 1993.

In his third-year in Champaign, Zook became the fourth Illinois mentor to earn Big Ten Coach of the Year honors after guiding the program to a seven-win improvement over last season, the largest turnaround in the nation. After winning only two games last year, Zook led the Fighting Illini to a second-place finish in the Big Ten and a 9-3 overall record, the school's first season with nine or more triumphs since producing 10 victories in 2001. In fact, Illinois' nine wins this season surpasses the program's combined total of eight victories over the last four seasons. Zook's seven-win improvement over a year ago leads the country, followed by current five-win improvements for Air Force, Connecticut and Kansas. Zook joins former Illini mentors Ron Turner (2001), John Mackovic (1988, 1989) and Mike White (1983) as Big Ten Coach of the Year honorees.

Overall, there are 21 individuals repeating as members of the All-Big Ten first or second team from a year ago, including seven first-team selections from 2006 who are on this year's first team - Illinois' J Leman, Michigan's Adam Kraus, Long and Mario Manningham, Ohio State's Malcolm Jenkins and Laurinaitis and Wisconsin's Jack Ikegwuonu.

The conference office also announced honorees from each team for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award. The student-athletes chosen are individuals who have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior. In addition, the student-athletes must be in good academic standing and have demonstrated good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting. Honorees for football are Leman of Illinois, Josiah Sears of Indiana, Tom Busch of Iowa, Chad Henne of Michigan, Javon Ringer of Michigan State, Amir Pinnix of Minnesota, Tonjua (T.J.) Jones of Northwestern, Brian Hartline of Ohio State, Anthony Morelli of Penn State, Jaycen Taylor of Purdue and Luke Swan of Wisconsin. These 11 student-athletes are now candidates for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award, as the conference office will honor one male and one female student-athlete from each institution at the end of the school year.

A complete listing of the 2007 All-Big Ten Teams and individual honors follows.


2007 All-Big Ten Conference Football Team
As selected by CONFERENCE COACHES
(Players in ALL CAPS have 2008 eligibility)
FIRST TEAM OFFENSE SECOND TEAM
Chad Henne, MichiganQuarterbackKellen Lewis, Indiana
Rashard Mendenhall, Illinois Running BackMike Hart, Michigan
Chris "Beanie" Wells, Ohio StateRunning BackJavon Ringer, Michigan State
James Hardy, IndianaReceiverDevin Thomas, Michigan State
MARIO MANNINGHAM, MichiganReceiver Dorien Bryant, Purdue
A.Q. Shipley, Penn StateCenterRyan McDonald, Illinois
Martin O'Donnell, IllinoisGuardRich Ohrnberger, Penn State
Adam Kraus, MichiganGuardKraig Urbik, Wisconsin
Jake Long, MichiganTackleXavier Fulton, Illinois
Kirk Barton, Ohio StateTackleAlex Boone, Ohio State
Travis Beckum, WisconsinTight EndDustin Keller, Purdue
Taylor Mehlhaff, WisconsinKickerAustin Starr, Indiana
FIRST TEAMDEFENSESECOND TEAM
Greg Middleton, IndianaLineTerrance Taylor, Michigan
Mitch King, IowaLineJonal Saint-Dic, Michigan State
Vernon Gholston, Ohio StateLineCliff Avril, Purdue
Maurice Evans, Penn StateLineMatt Shaughnessy, Wisconsin
J Leman, IllinoisLinebackerShawn Crable, Michigan
James Laurinaitis, Ohio StateLinebackerMarcus Freeman, Ohio State
Dan Connor, Penn StateLinebackerSean Lee, Penn State
Vontae Davis, IllinoisDefensive BackTracy Porter, Indiana
Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio StateDefensive BackCharles Godfrey, Iowa
Justin King, Penn StateDefensive BackJamar Adams, Michigan
Jack Ikegwuonu, WisconsinDefensive BackDominique Barber, Minnesota
Jeremy Boone, Penn StatePunterKen DeBauche, Wisconsin

HONORABLE MENTION: ILLINOIS: Will Davis, Kevin Mitchell, Chris Norwell, Jason Reda, ISIAH "JUICE" WILLIAMS; INDIANA: John Sandberg; IOWA: Ryan Donahue, Rafael Eubanks, Mike Humpal, Ken Iwebema, Bryan Mattison, Seth Olsen, Albert Young; MICHIGAN: Justin Boren, Brandent Englemon, Morgan Trent; MICHIGAN STATE: Ervin Baldwin, Jehuu Caulcrick, Kellen Davis; MINNESOTA: Justin Kucek; NORTHWESTERN: John Gill, Adam Kadela, Trevor Rees, Tyrell Sutton; OHIO STATE: Todd Boeckman, Kurt Coleman, Brian Robiskie, Anderson Russell, A.J. Trapasso, Donald Washington; PENN STATE: Gerald Cadogan, Josh Gaines, ANTHONY SCIRROTTO; PURDUE: Anthony Heygood, Curtis Painter, Sean Sester, Terrell Vinson; WISCONSIN: Shane Carter, Jonathan Casillas, Marcus Coleman, Tyler Donovan, Nick Hayden, Paul Hubbard.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Rashard Mendenhall, Illinois
OFFENSIVE LINEMAN OF THE YEAR: Jake Long, Michigan
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: James Laurinaitis, Ohio State
DEFENSIVE LINEMAN OF THE YEAR: Vernon Gholston, Ohio State
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: ARRELIOUS BENN, Illinois

2007 All-Big Ten Conference Football Team
As selected by CONFERENCE MEDIA
(Players in ALL CAPS have 2008 eligibility)
FIRST TEAM OFFENSE SECOND TEAM
Todd Boeckman, Ohio StateQuarterbackKellen Lewis, Indiana
Rashard Mendenhall, Illinois Running BackMike Hart, Michigan
Chris "Beanie" Wells, Ohio StateRunning BackJavon Ringer, Michigan State
James Hardy, IndianaReceiverDevin Thomas, Michigan State
MARIO MANNINGHAM, MichiganReceiver Dorien Bryant, Purdue
Marcus Coleman, WisconsinCenterRyan McDonald, Illinois
Martin O'Donnell, IllinoisGuardRich Ohrnberger, Penn State
Adam Kraus, MichiganGuardKraig Urbik, Wisconsin
Jake Long, MichiganTacklePete Clifford, Michigan State
Kirk Barton, Ohio StateTackleAlex Boone, Ohio State
Travis Beckum, WisconsinTight EndDustin Keller, Purdue
Austin Starr, IndianaKickerTaylor Mehlhaff, Wisconsin
FIRST TEAMDEFENSESECOND TEAM
Greg Middleton, IndianaLineWill Davis, Illinois
Jonal Saint-Dic, Michigan StateLineMitch King, Iowa
Vernon Gholston, Ohio StateLineBryan Mattison, Iowa
Maurice Evans, Penn StateLineMatt Shaughnessy, Wisconsin
J Leman, IllinoisLinebackerMike Humpal, Iowa
James Laurinaitis, Ohio StateLinebackerShawn Crable, Michigan
Dan Connor, Penn StateLinebackerSean Lee, Penn State
Tracy Porter, IndianaDefensive BackVontae Davis, Illinois
Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio StateDefensive BackJamar Adams, Michigan
Justin King, Penn StateDefensive BackDominique Barber, Minnesota
Jack Ikegwuonu, WisconsinDefensive BackTerrell Vinson, Purdue
Jeremy Boone, Penn StatePunterJustin Kucek, Minnesota

HONORABLE MENTION: ILLINOIS: Xavier Fulton, Kevin Mitchell, Chris Norwell, Jason Reda, ISIAH "JUICE" WILLIAMS; INDIANA: John Sandberg, AUSTIN THOMAS; IOWA: Ryan Donahue, Charles Godfrey, Mike Klinkenborg, MATT KROUL, Adam Shada, Albert Young; MICHIGAN: Justin Boren, Brandent Englemon, Chris Graham, Tim Jamison, Will Johnson, Terrance Taylor; MICHIGAN STATE: Ervin Baldwin, Kellen Davis, BRIAN HOYER, Travis Key; MINNESOTA: Tony Brinkhaus, Steve Shidell; NORTHWESTERN: C.J. BACHER, John Gill, Adam Kadela, Trevor Rees; OHIO STATE: Kurt Coleman, Marcus Freeman, Ryan Pretorius, Brian Robiskie, Anderson Russell, A.J. Trapasso; PENN STATE: Gerald Cadogan, Josh Gaines, Kevin Kelly, Rodney Kinlaw, ANTHONY SCIRROTTO, A.Q. Shipley; PURDUE: Cliff Avril, Jordan Grimes, Curtis Painter, Robbie Powell, Sean Sester; WISCONSIN: Shane Carter, Jonathan Casillas, Ken DeBauche, Tyler Donovan, Nick Hayden, P.J. HILL.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Rashard Mendenhall, Illinois
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: James Laurinaitis, Ohio State
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: ARRELIOUS BENN, Illinois
DAVE McCLAIN COACH OF THE YEAR: Ron Zook, Illinois

Big Ten Sportsmanship Award Honorees: J Leman, ILL; Josiah Sears, IND; Tom Busch, IOWA; Chad Henne, MICH; Javon Ringer, MSU; Amir Pinnix, MINN; Tonjua (T.J.) Jones, NU; Brian Hartline, OSU; Anthony Morelli, PSU; Jaycen Taylor, PUR; Luke Swan, WIS.