Mike Hull Wins Linebacker of the Year Award, Eleven Others Earn All-Big Ten Honors
Two of Penn State’s unquestioned leaders on the defensive side of the ball, as well as ten other Nittany Lions, have been recognized for their stellar performances during the 2014 campaign.
Linebacker Mike Hull was named the Butkus-Fitzgerald Big Ten Linebacker of the Year, and also named to the first team. This is the second time in three years a Nittany Lion has won the award, after Michael Mauti won it in 2012.
“I’m just so honored to be able to receive this award,” said Hull. “[But] it’s not possible without the great teammates around me… There’s been a lot of good times, a lot of bad times. Overall it’s bittersweet. But I couldn’t be happier with how this turned out.”
Defensive tackle Anthony Zettel also made the first team defense. The two star defenders set the tone for Penn State’s top ranked defensive unit, and gave fans a reason to get excited about each Saturday.
The two players stood out amongst some of the Big-Ten’s best and brightest defensive stars. The list includes players like Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa, Michigan State defensive end Shilique Calhoun, and Michigan linebacker Jake Ryan, just to name a few.
With a new defensive coordinator in place, coupled with various unknowns going into the year, the odds were stacked against Mike Hull and the rest of Penn State’s defensive unit. Hull proceeded to turn in one of the greatest seasons in recent memory for a Penn State linebacker. His play throughout the season reminded Nittany Lion faithful of the Paul Posluszny-Dan Connor days, during the Linebacker-U era.
Hull posted 132 total tackles, along with two sacks, one interception, and two forced fumbles on the season. His total of 132 tackles ranked him sixth in the FBS, while placing him atop the Big Ten. Game after game, Hull made plays all over the field, and was a clear difference maker for Penn State’s top ranked unit. His leadership was imperative to the unit’s success, and his tenacity against the run made it difficult for teams to succeed on the ground against the Nittany Lions.
Anthony Zettel’s story is one of dedication and triumph, as the redshirt junior lineman made the offseason switch from defensive end to tackle. Zettel was asked to move inside to fit new defensive coordinator Bob Shoop’s system.
Zettel put on muscle and gained weight prior to the season to adapt to his new role as an interior lineman, and the hard work paid off immensely. Zettel exploded onto the scene, recording 36 total tackles, eight sacks, three interceptions, one forced fumble, and one defensive touchdown. He ranks third in the Big Ten in the sack category, and tied for seventh in the interceptions department, which is very rare for an interior lineman.
The accolades have been rolling in for the two standout defenders, as both were named to BTN.com’s All-Big Ten first team on Sunday. The recognition is well deserved, as both Hull and Zettel stood out from the crowd this season, while restoring Penn State’s feared defensive reputation.
In addition to Hull and Zettel’s awards, DaeSean Hamilton was named to the All-Big Ten second team offense by the media. Hamilton finished his freshman season with 75 catches for 848 yards and a touchdown. Sam Ficken was named to the All-Big Ten second team as well. The senior made 23 field goals on 28 tries, which is a Penn State single-season record.
Seven Nittany Lions were honorable mentions by either the coaches or media. Adrian Amos, Deion Barnes, Hamilton, Jesse James, and Jordan Lucas were named to the coaches team, and Amos, Barnes, James, Lucas, Austin Johnson, Angelo Mangiro, and Trevor Williams were named to the media team.
Finally, Ryan Keiser was named Penn State’s Sportsmanship Award honoree.
Congratulations to all of the players honored!