No one was surprised that senior defensive end Carl Nassib (West Chester, Pa.) was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. This title is voted on by all of the conference’s coaches, and is one of the most prestigious honors awarded each season. Nassib’s accolades don’t stop there, as he also earned first team All-Big Ten honors, decided by coaches and the media. Nassib retains his status as the nation’s leader in sacks as the squad heads into bowl season.
“It’s incredible. I’m so happy to be here and represent Penn State the right way,” commented Nassib. “I’m happy to show that hard work does pay off, and I couldn’t be happier.”
Nassib is also in the running for five national awards: the Lott IMPACT trophy (exemplary character in an athlete), the Lombardi Award (nation’s top lineman or linebacker), Nagurski Trophy (nation’s top defensive player), Bednarik Award (nation’s top defensive player), and the Burlsworth Trophy (top player who began as a walk-on).
Fellow defensive players Austin Johnson (Galloway, N.J.) and Anthony Zettel (West Branch, Mich.) were also awarded top honors this past week. Johnson earned a spot on the All-Big Ten second team by the media and the third team by coaches. Zettel achieved a spot on both all-conference third teams.
Offensively, Penn State achieved high praise for its standouts. Freshman Phenom Saquon Barkley (Coplay, Pa.) was named to the All-Big Ten second team by both the coaches and media. Barkley is the first Penn State running back to achieve All-Big Ten second team honors since 2011. He also breaks a record in being the first freshman at Penn State to achieve first or second team status. Barkley’s list of achievements continues; he was named the BTN.com Freshman of the Year as well as named to the All-Freshman team.
Quiet and humble Chris Godwin (Middletown, Del.) was chosen to the All-Big Ten second team by the media and the third team by coaches.
Redshirt freshman kicker Joey Julius (Hummelstown, Pa.) joins Barkley on the BTN.com All-Freshman team.
Despite a tough loss to Michigan State (55-16) last Saturday, Penn State has had a remarkable and foundational season, finishing with a strong 7-5 and 4-4 record. The squad is looking forward to their 46th bowl eligibility. Chances are strong that Penn State will appear in either the Music City Bowl (Nashville, Tenn.) against Georgia, or the TaxSlayer Bowl (Jacksonville, Miss.) with a TBD opponent.