Northern Illinois defensive tackle Nabal Jefferson (Chicago, Ill./Marist) will be honored Tuesday as a National Scholar-Athlete, presented by Fidelity Investments, during the 55th annual National Football Foundation Awards Ceremony.
The NFF Scholar-Athlete Award is one of the most prestigious in college football as it honors 15 student-athletes whose academic, athletic and leadership abilities rank them as the very best throughout all divisions of NCAA football and the NAIA.
Jefferson, who carries a 3.78 grade point average in accountancy, distinguished himself from a nationwide pool of 147 semifinalists. He is one of five defensive players named to the 2012 NFF Scholar-Athlete Class and is one of 10 players from the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).
In 2012, Jefferson has made 56 tackles, six for loss, with a quarterback sack and two pass break-ups for the Discover Orange Bowl-bound Huskies. He was a force on NIU’s defense in the Marathon MAC Championship game, posting nine tackles – 1.5 for loss – and anchored a Huskie defense that held Kent State to 70 yards rushing in a 44-37 double overtime win over the Golden Flashes.
A two-year starter who has been in the Huskies’ defensive line rotation every year of his college career, Jefferson will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship and will represent Northern Illinois in New York City at the 55th NFF Annual Awards Dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria.
That night, one member of the NFF Scholar-Athlete Class will be selected as the recipient of the William V. Campbell Trophy and receive an additional $7,000, as well as a 25-pound bronze trophy.
Jefferson is one of 15 honorees nationwide to be honored in the Big Apple. Other notable honorees alongside the Huskie senior are Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, USC quarterback Matt Barkley, Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead and Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones.
The Chicagoan is the second consecutive Huskie player to win the award in as many seasons. Last year, 2011 quarterback Chandler Harnish was named an NFF National Scholar-Athlete, making NIU the only school in the nation to have a player honored in both years.