April 21, 2009
DeKALB, Ill. - Seniors Larry English (Aurora, Ill./Marmion Academy) and Jennifer Naughton (Smithville, Mo./Smithville HS) of the Northern Illinois football and women's gymnastics teams were honored as the Huskies' 2009 Senior Male and Female Athletes of the Year, respectively, on Monday night, highlighting the school's annual celebration for senior student-athletes.
English, a two-time winner of the Mid-American Conference's Vern Smith Leadership Award, presented by league coaches to the MAC's top player, owns the Northern Illinois records for quarterback sacks in a single game (5), season (12) and career (31.5), as well as tackles for loss in a game (6), season (20) and career (63). He is one of only two players in Huskie history to be named a first team All-MAC player three times. He ranks fifth all-time in the MAC in quarterback sacks and is tied for eighth in the league in career tackles for loss. As a senior, English led all active NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) players in sacks (31.5), sack yardage (220) and tackles for loss yards (283), and ranked second in tackles for loss (63). While playing every game but one (50 total) for the Huskies from 2005-08 and starting 47, he compiled 237 tackles, 125 solo and was responsible for opponents' losing 283 yards and eight fumbles.
English, who earned his bachelor's degree from NIU in December 2008, is poised to become the highest NFL draft pick in school history during the annual NFL selection this weekend as he is projected as a first-day choice.
"Larry English is extremely deserving of this honor," said NIU Head Coach Larry Kill. "I know Larry loves NIU and he's definitely one of the best players, and best people, I have had the pleasure to coach during my career. You don't just replace Larry English with one guy, it will take two or three."
Naughton has been a fixture in the NIU gymnastics starting line-up on vault, balance beam and floor exercise over the last four years, missing just one meet during that time. In 2009, she was honored by the MAC as the leagues' Senior Gymnast of the Year, and she also claimed the MAC co-championship on the balance beam and advanced to the NCAA Regionals on beam as a senior. She had six top six finishes at the MAC Championships during her career and her best scores included a 9.850 on vault, 9.925 on beam and 9.850 on floor exercise. Her vault and beam bests rank in the NIU Top 10 all-time on those events. A psychology major, Naughton was also a three-time Academic All-MAC selection.
"I'm very happy to see Jennifer recognized for the fantastic career she has had for us at Northern Illinois," said NIU Head Coach Mark Sontag. "Her consistency over the years has provided me, as a coach, with a lot of peace of mind. I can relax every time she goes out there. She will be missed."
Monday's banquet was held at the Holmes Student Center on the NIU campus, and honored 2008-09 seniors in each of NIU's 17 sports. The event was organized by Northern Illinois Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and sponsored by the NIU Alumni Association. Women's tennis student-athlete Brooke Forsberg served as emcee and the attendees also heard from NIU Associate Vice President and Director of Athletics Jeff Compher and former Huskie tight end David Koronkiewicz.
-- NIU --
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