Miami Leads BIG EAST All-Academic Team

Middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma leads a group of 10 Miami Hurricanes who have been selected to the 2003 BIG EAST All-Academic Football team, the league announced Thursday. Vilma, a Finance major who is a two-time Verizon Academic All-America honoree, earned his third All-Academic honor from the conference and led Miami to a tie for the league's most honorees.

Senior Nate Jones of Rutgers, a cornerback and kick return specialist, was named the winner of the BIG EAST/Aéropostale Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award. He receives a $2,000 scholarship, which may be applied to graduate or professional studies.

The BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete Awards were established to recognize student-athletes who have achieved success in the classroom and on the field. The BIG EAST Male, Female and Men's and Women's Basketball Scholar-Athletes will be announced prior to the BIG EAST Men's & Women's Basketball Championships on March 5 and 9.

Miami student-athletes on the team included Vilma, Robert Bergman, Brock Berlin, Matt Carter, Alex Garcia, Mark Gent, Kelly Jennings, Brad Kunz, Jon Peattie, and Jim Sikora.

Thirty-five repeat selections were included on the BIG EAST All-Academic Football Team. Sikora is one of six players - along with Sandro Sciortino (Boston College), Marty Pyszczymuka (Rutgers), Jared Davis (Temple) and Rich Scanlon and Nick Romeo (Syracuse) - to be honored for the fourth time. Their honors increased to 30 the total of four-time winners in BIG EAST history.

"These players are the most outstanding student-athletes BIG EAST football has to offer," Commissioner Michael Tranghese said. "We are very excited to honor Nate Jones and the entire academic team with these selections."

Seven players lauded for their play on the field in the fall made the academic squad. Vilma, Peattie and Brian King of West Virginia were All-BIG EAST First Team members. All-conference second team selections on the field included Jones, Romeo, Scanlon and Pittsburgh's Kris Wilson.

Miami, Pittsburgh, Temple and West Virginia tied for the most academic honorees this year with 10 each.

The All-Academic Team recognizes letterwinners who have posted a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better. Student-athletes who have completed a minimum of two semesters of academic work and earned a letter are eligible. It is the 12th consecutive season the BIG EAST has honored its student-athletes with an academic team.

HURRICANES ON THE 2003 BIG EAST ALL-ACADEMIC FOOTBALL TEAM

Name Class Pos. Major Hometown
Robert Bergman Junior OL Entrepreneurship Bakersfield, California
Brock Berlin Senior QB Liberal Arts Shreveport, Louisiana
Matt Carter Senior H/P History Columbus, Ohio
Alex Garcia Senior OL Technology Miami, Florida
Mark Gent Senior PK Marketing Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Kelly Jennings Junior CB Finance Live Oak, Florida
Brad Kunz Senior OL History Carlyle, Illinois
Jon Peattie Sophomore PK Business Mgmt. Operations Clearwater, Florida
Jim Sikora Senior OL Civil Engineering Marathon, Florida
Jonathan Vilma Senior LB Finance Coral Gables, Florida

*Classification listed is academic classification and may not match athletic classification.

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