On the heels of a record-breaking 2010 Northern Illinois football season on the field, a record-tying five Northern Illinois football student-athletes have been named to the Mid-American Conference’s Academic All-MAC football squad as selected by the league’s faculty representatives.
Northern Illinois and Western Michigan led all MAC schools with five selections each to the 29-man squad.
NIU’s five selections included 2010 starters quarterback Chandler Harnish (Bluffton, Ind./Norwell HS), nose guard Mike Krause (Germantown, Wisc./Germantown HS), offensive guard Joe Pawlak (Grayslake, Ill./Grayslake HS) and tight end Jason Schepler (Sycamore, Ill./Sycamore HS) along with back-up defensive tackle Nabal Jefferson (Chicago, Ill./Marist HS). The Huskies previously put a school-record five players on the academic team in 2008, while three NIU student-athletes were on the squad a year ago.
In order to be considered for the Academic All-MAC team, a student-athlete must have at least a 3.20 cumulative grade point average and have participated in at least 50 percent of the team’s games that season. First-year students and junior college transfers in their first year at that school are not eligible.
Harnish is one of only four players on the 2010 Academic All-MAC team to earn the honor three times and is just the third Huskie to be a three-time selection, following Brad Benson (2004-06) and Jon Brost (2006-08). A redshirt junior, the first-team All-MAC quarterback and Most Valuable Player of the Huskies’ Humanitarian Bowl victory over Fresno State carries a 3.59 grade point average in business management. In 2010, he broke Northern Illinois’ 47-year-old record for total offense in a single season with 3,366 yards (2,530 passing and 836 rushing), was responsible for 28 touchdowns (seven rushing and 21 passing) and leading NIU to a school-record 11 wins. Northern Illinois set all-time records for total offensive yards, points and touchdowns, among others, this season.
Krause was named to the Academic All-MAC team for the second time as he was also honored by the league in 2008. The Huskies’ starting nose guard enjoyed his best season on the field as a senior in 2010 after sitting out the 2009 season due to a heart ailment. He made 27 tackles and totaled 5.5 tackles for loss and two pass break-ups while starting all 14 games for NIU. Academically, Krause earned a 3.43 GPA while doing post-graduate work in business management.
Schepler, a third-team All-MAC choice for his play as the Huskies’ starting tight end, owns a 3.89 GPA in electrical engineering and was named to the Academic team for the first time after earning honorable mention status a year ago. The junior caught a career-best eight passes for 93 yards on the season to average 11.6 yards per catch and was a stalwart blocker for one of the best offenses in school history.
Like Schepler, Pawlak was an honorable mention Academic All-MAC choice a year ago before being named to the team in 2010. The Huskies’ starting right guard for all 14 games was part of a record-setting rushing and passing offense which ranks 14th in the country in fewest sacks allowed and powered the No. 7 rushing offense in the country. A junior, he carries a 3.31 GPA in sociology and criminology.
Jefferson, a sophomore, made the MAC academic squad with a stellar 3.91 grade point average in business to rank among the tops on the team. He saw extensive action on the interior defensive line for the Huskies in 2010 and finished the season with 26 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 quarterback sacks.
In addition to the five Academic All-MAC selections, Northern Illinois nominee Alan Baxter (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Buffalo Grove HS) was named to the honorable mention Academic All-MAC list with a 3.36 GPA in business. The reserve defensive end made 12 tackles with 4.5 for loss as a sophomore for the Huskies.
The number of honorees on the Academic All‑MAC team is equivalent to the number of first‑team selections or 33 percent of the number of nominees, whichever is greater.
Four of the five Huskies honored as Academic All-MAC team members return to Northern Illinois in 2011. NIU opens the 2011 season under new head coach Dave Doeren on Saturday, Sept. 3, with a home game versus Army at Huskie Stadium.
For more information on NIU football and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.