Nabal Jefferson, a Chicago native who helped lead the Northern Illinois football program to unprecedented heights during his four years as a Huskie, has been awarded an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship worth $7,500, the NCAA announced earlier this week.
The NCAA presents 174 postgraduate scholarships each year to deserving senior student-athletes across all divisions and all sports.
For the fall, 29 men and 29 women were honored. Student-athletes must excel academically, with a grade point average of 3.2 or higher, and athletically, and plan to pursue graduate study in order to be nominated for the scholarship.
Jefferson joins a select group of former Huskies to receive the NCAA postgraduate scholarship award, and is the second NIU student-athlete in as many years to claim the honor as Northern Illinois volleyball player Kristin Hoffman was a 2011 recipient. NIU Hall of Famers T.J. Lux (2000, men’s basketball), Tim Dillon (1984, men’s basketball) and Doug Kieso (1984, men’s gymnastics) all won NCAA postgraduate scholarships at the conclusion of their careers.
NIU Faculty Athletics Representative Matt Streb, who nominated Jefferson for the award, said the Marist High School product is extremely worthy of the scholarship.
“Nabal is such a special young man, and his story is one that resonates with many people,” Streb said. “He overcame challenges in his life that most people can only imagine, and has not only overcome, but excelled both athletically and academically. I can’t think of a more deserving person. Nabal Jefferson is everything that is right about intercollegiate athletics.”
One of only five NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision football players to earn the NCAA Postgraduate Award this year, Jefferson earned second team Capital One Academic All-America honors in 2012 for his efforts on the field and in the classroom.
In October, he was named one of 15 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athletes throughout all divisions of college football, and he received an $18,000 scholarship at the NFF Awards Banquet in New York last December.
Despite having just one scholarship offer – to NIU – coming out of Marist, Jefferson was a member of the Huskies’ defensive line rotation for all four years of his college career. He made a career high 58 stops, 24 solo, as a senior for NIU’s Mid-American Conference Champion squad. He had a career-best nine tackles, one-and-a-half for loss, in the 2012 MAC Championship game, and finished with 22.5 tackles for loss and 144 stops in 53 games as a Huskie.
Jefferson carries a 3.7 GPA in accountancy and plans to earn his master’s in that field. He completed an internship at KPMG tax, audit and accounting firm in Chicago last summer and plans to return to the company again this summer.
Active in his community and his parish in the Beverly neighborhood on Chicago’s south side, Jefferson serves as a mentor and role model to the youth and often returns to speak to children and to assist the elderly. At Northern Illinois, he served as a member of the NIU football team’s Leadership Council for three years.
“I am extremely thankful,” Jefferson said. “There are so many people at Northern Illinois who have helped me and I’ll never forget what NIU has done for me. It has been a blessing.”
Jefferson and Ball State women’s soccer player Skylar Chew were the only Mid-American Conference student-athletes among the 29 men and 29 women receiving the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship for Fall 2012. He is also one of only two individuals from a college in Illinois (Julia Sizek, cross country, Chicago) selected. Created in 1964, NCAA postgraduate scholarships promote and encourage education by rewarding the Association’s most accomplished student-athletes.
For more information on NIU football and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.