Northern Illinois football’s Nabal Jefferson added another prestigious honor and postgraduate scholarship to his trophy case today when was named the male winner of the 2013 Bob James Memorial Award by the Mid-American Conference.
The award, named for the second commissioner in MAC history (1964-71), is selected by the league’s faculty athletics representatives and goes to one male and one female student-athlete each year. Each recipient earns a $5,000 scholarship toward graduate school.
Jefferson, a Chicago, Ill. native who earned four letters as a noseguard for the Huskies, graduated from NIU with a degree in accountancy this summer. He is just the fourth Huskie student-athlete to win a Bob James Award in the 24-year history of the award, and is the first male winner from Northern Illinois. Ball State women’s soccer player Skylar Chew is the 2013 female recipient of the Bob James Memorial Award.
“It is just such a great honor to be in the conversation with the great players and student-athletes in the MAC,” Jefferson said. “I want to give credit to my team and all of my (head) coaches – Coach Kill, Coach Doeren and Coach Carey. They all played a part in making this happen for me. Northern Illinois gave me a chance to play at the highest level and I couldn’t be more thankful. I also want to thank all of my teammates who helped me over the years. It’s just a great blessing.”
Nominees for the Bob James Memorial Award must be seniors in their final season of eligibility who have achieved a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.50, and have displayed exceptional character, leadership and citizenship. Each MAC school can nominate only one male and one female candidate each year.
Jefferson graduated with a 3.72 cumulative GPA in accountancy and the Marist High School product will remain in DeKalb to pursue his master’s degree in accountancy.
In October, Jefferson won one of 15 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete awards and a $15,000 postgraduate scholarship as a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy. He was honored in New York during the NFF Annual Awards Banquet and Hall of Fame ceremony in December.
In March, Jefferson was selected to receive a $7,500 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship and he was one of three male finalists – across all sports and all divisions – for the NCAA’s Walter Byers Scholarship in May.
Jefferson earned the Northern Illinois Athletics Scholar Athlete of the Year in 2013 and qualified for the College of Business Dean’s List five times. He was a second team selection to the Capital One Academic All-America football team by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) in 2012 and was selected to the Academic All-MAC team three times (2010, 2011, 2012).
“Winning all of these scholarships and awards has given me opportunities beyond just paying for my master’s degree,” Jefferson said. “Whether it’s going to New York and being able to meet people from business and coaches, or interviewing in Indianapolis for the Walter Byers Award, the experiences have helped me build a network that’s going to help me going forward.”
Jefferson was a four-year varsity letter-winner (2009-12) at nose guard and was part of a Huskie football team that set school records for consecutive MAC football championships (2011, 2012), earned the school and MAC’s first-ever BCS Bowl invitation (2013 Discover Orange Bowl) and was part of a senior class that appeared in four bowl games and set the record for most wins in school history (41). Jefferson played in a bowl game in each of his four years in DeKalb.
Throughout his collegiate career, Jefferson considered community involvement just as important to his focus in academics and athletics. He embraced his status as a role model and continued his connection to his church, former school and neighborhood in Chicago as he assisted youth and seniors at St. Margaret of Scotland Church and Marist High School, participated in community service activities with the Northern Illinois football team and volunteered with youth football clinics.
Jefferson finished his second summer as an intern at KPMG in Chicago and will return to Northern Illinois University this fall to pursue his master’s degree in accountancy. He will work as a graduate assistant in NIU Athletics’ Business Office this year.
A year ago, Northern Illinois volleyball player Kristin Hoffman was the MAC’s female recipient of the 2012 Bob James Memorial Award, and Huskie student-athletes Jody Yednock (gymnastics) and Marie Zidek (volleyball), won the scholarships in 2007 and 2006, respectively.