Walters Captures Academic Award

Miami's Matt Walters heads a group of 69 student-athletes named to the 2002 BIG EAST All-Academic Football Team, the league announced. The senior defensive tackle is 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.

A native of Melbourne, Fla., Walters excelled in all aspects at Miami. A team captain, he has played in every game for the Hurricanes the last two seasons. The senior, touted by his coaches as the squad's best defensive lineman, finished sixth on the squad overall with 64 tackles. He posted a 4.9 tackle average, fifth among BIG EAST defensive linemen. He also had 6.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and 17 quarterback hurries. He was named to the Verizon/CoSIDA Academic All-America First Team at the end of the regular season along with teammate Jonathan Vilma.

In the classroom and off the field, Walters is also impressive. He is on course to earn a degree in Mechanical Engineering and has produced a 3.48 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale. He is a four-time member of the BIG EAST All-Academic Team and has also been chosen for the Miami Provost and Athletic Director's honor rolls. He is one of four Hurricanes (Jim Wilson, Joaquin Gonzalez, Michael Stewart) to be named to the BIG EAST academic squad four times. Walters has also been active in the community as a United Way Fundraising Volunteer and as part of "Canes On Patrol", a program administered in conjunction with the Broward County Sheriff's Office. He has also participated in "Red Ribbon Week", an anti-drug youth program at Miami.

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 and in conjunction with the BIG EAST Men's & Women's Basketball Championships on March 7 and 11. Opened in 1987, Aéropostale, Inc. is a fast-growing, specialty retailer of casual apparel and accessories that targets both men and women. The company provides customers with a focused selection of high-quality, active-oriented, fashion basic merchandise at compelling values in a high-energy, entertaining store environment. As of January 2003, Aéropostale operated 365 stores in 35 states. The company also has a web site at www.aeropostale.com.

Forty-one repeat selections were included on the BIG EAST All-Academic Football Team. Five players - Walters and Jim Wilson of Miami, Pittsburgh's Brian Beinecke and A.J. Nastasi and Lance Nimmo of West Virginia - were honored for the fourth time. Their honors increased to 24 the total of four-time winners in BIG EAST history.

"These players are the top student-athletes BIG EAST football has to offer," Commissioner Michael Tranghese said. "We are very proud to honor them with these selections."

Fourteen additional players were named for the third time in their careers, while 22 earned recognition for the second time. Six players lauded for their play on the field in the fall made the academic squad. Miami's Ken Dorsey (offense) and Nate Jones of Rutgers (special teams) shared their respective Player of the Year awards. Both were on the All-BIG EAST First Team along with Vilma, Nimmo and UM's Brett Romberg. Boston College's Sandro Sciortino was picked for the all-conference second team.

Boston College, Miami, Pittsburgh and West Virginia tied for the most honorees with 10. The Mountaineers have the most all-time selections with 91 in 12 seasons of BIG EAST play.

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 are eligible. It is the 11th consecutive season the BIG EAST has honored its student-athletes with an academic team.

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