Leman Earns First-Team All-America Honors

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - University of Illinois senior linebacker J Leman has earned first-team All-America honors by the American Football Coaches' Association, as announced by the organization Thursday. Leman is one of three linebackers chosen for the honor. He is Illinois' first AFCA All-American since Simeon Rice in 1994.

"I am so excited for J," head coach Ron Zook said. "J is such a huge part of the success Illinois has had this season and his production on the field has been a great example to the rest of our team. I am so happy that his hard work has been noticed by my peers in the coaching business. This award says a lot about how the coaches see J as a player."

"Leman led the Illinois defense for the past two years in tackles, posting 124 in 2007. He also led the Big Ten in the same category for 16 of the last 19 weeks, dating back to last season. He was named first-team All-Big Ten for the past two years and was a 2007 semifinalist for the Butkus, Lombardi and Bednarik Awards. He is a finalist for the Ronnie Lott and Danny Weurffel Awards.

"This season the Illini defense, led by Leman, ranked 21st in the nation in rushing defense and held five teams under 100 yards rushing. It was one of the biggest reasons Illinois has improved to 9-3 from 2-10 a year ago. It is the biggest turnaround in college football this year. The Illini are also the only team to knock off two Top-5 opponents this year when they defeated No. 1 Ohio State and No. 5 Wisconsin.

"Leman continues a long-standing linebacker tradition at Illinois, which includes former AFCA All-Americans Dick Butkus, Dana Howard and Rice, as well as Ray Nitschke, Scott Studwell, Darrick Brownlow, Kevin Hardy and John Holocek.

"The AFCA has selected an All-America team since 1945 and currently selects teams in all five of its divisions. The AFCA's Football Bowl Subdivisin All-America Selection Committee is made up of three head coaches from each of the AFCA's nine I-A districts, one of whom serves as a district chairman, along with another head coach who serves as the chairman of the selection committee.

"J LEMAN'S 2007 AWARDS LIST

* First-Team All-America (by AFCA)

* First-Team All-Big Ten (by coaches)

* First-Team All-Big Ten (by media)

* Ronnie Lott Award Finalist

* Danny Weurffel Award Finalist

* Butkus Award Semifinalist

* Draddy Award Finalist

* Rotary Lombardi Award Semifinalist

* Chuck Bednarik Award Semifinalist

* Bronko Nagurski Award Candidate

* 2007 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete

* First-Team All-Big Ten (by

* Midseason CBSSportsline.com All-American

* Midseason Phil Steele First-Team All-American

* Midseason SI.com Second-Team All-American


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