Four Gophers Named First-Team All-Big Ten

The 2005 All-Big Ten football selections were announced today and five Golden Gophers were named to either the first or second team, including four first-team selections. This season's four consensus first-team All-Big Ten selections (coaches and media) ties the school record, which was set last season.

Senior center Greg Eslinger was named first-team All-Big Ten by both the media and the coaches for the third consecutive season and was also honored as the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year. Eslinger was also selected as one of the honorees for this year's Big Ten Sportsmanship Award. Junior running back Laurence Maroney, senior guard Mark Setterstrom and junior tight end Matt Spaeth were also named first-team All-Big Ten by both the media and coaches. Senior defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery was chosen as a second-team selection by the coaches and received honorable-mention recognition by the media.

Eslinger becomes the first player in Gopher history to be named first-team All-Big Ten by both the coaches and the media for three consecutive seasons and is the fifth player in Gophers history to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors in three straight seasons. The last player to accomplish that feat was linebacker Billy Light from 1970-72. Eslinger is also the first Gopher player to earn the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year Award.

This season marks the first time that Setterstrom was a first-team choice by both the coaches and the media. Setterstrom was a first-team selection by the media and a second-team selection by the coaches in 2004 and was an honorable-mention selection in 2003.

Eslinger and Setterstrom have started 49 straight games, which is the longest current streak in the nation. The duo has helped lead the Gophers to an average of 497.8 yards of total offense per game in 2005, which ranks fifth in the nation, is the highest average in school history, and ranks third all time in Big Ten history for average yards per game in a season. The Gophers' rushing offense ranks third in the country and first in the Big Ten, averaging 279.9 yards per game, which is the second-highest average in school history and the seventh-highest average in Big Ten history. Eslinger and Setterstrom have also protected the quarterback as the Gophers only allowed three sacks, the fewest amount of sacks allowed in the Big Ten in 2005.

Maroney is a first-team selection by both the coaches and the media for the second consecutive season after earning Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors in 2003. Maroney tallied 1,355 rushing yards in 2005 to become only the third player in Big Ten history to rush for 1,000 yards in each of his first three seasons, joining Wisconsin's Ron Dayne and Michigan State's Sedrick Irvin. He also ranks second in school history in career rushing yards with 3,824, second in 100-yard rushing games in a career with 20 and second all time in school history in career all-purpose yardage with 4,676. The St. Louis, Mo., native also ranks first in the Big Ten and third in the nation in average rushing yards per game in 2005 (135.5 ypg).

Spaeth earns first-team honors by both teams for the first time after being an honorable mention choice by both the media and coaches in 2004. The St. Michael, Minn., native is among the best blocking tight ends in the nation. He also ranks first on the team in touchdown receptions with four and is third on the team in receptions with 24. He has 308 receiving yards on the season.

Six other Gophers received honorable mention recognition by either the coaches or the media. Sophomore offensive tackle Tony Brinkhaus and sophomore tailback Gary Russell were named honorable mention by both the coaches and the media. Junior cornerback Trumaine Banks, freshman defensive end Steve Davis, and senior safety John Pawielski received honorable-mention recognition by the media. Senior defensive end Keith Lipka received honorable-mention recognition by the coaches.

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