Three Badgers named to All Big Ten first team

11-1 seasons usually lead to individual recognition as well.

Offensive lineman Joe Thomas, defensive back Jack Ikegwuonu, and running back PJ Hill were named first team all-Big Ten.

Hill, the leading rusher in the conference, was a first team selection by the media, but a second team selection by the coaches. He was also named freshman of the year in the Big Ten.

Ikegwuonu, no surprize to me, was named first team by the coaches and second team by the media. In his first full season as a starter, he showed everyone why he is, in my opinion, the best lockdown corner in the league.

Thomas was a consensus pick and will also be a first team all-American.

For the second consecutive season, the leading receiver at the tight end position is not recognized as all-league. Travis Beckum, who leads the nation in receiving yards by a tight end, was awarded second team all-Big Ten by the media and honorable mention by the coaches. Last season, it was Scott Chandler from Iowa getting the same treatment. But, there is no tight end in the country Badger fans would trade for Beckum right now.

There were three players selected to the second team in both votes: defensive back Roderick Rogers, defensive tackle Matt Shaughnessy, and placekicker Taylor Mehlhaff.

Nine additional Badgers were honorable mention by the coaches or media: center Marcus Coleman, offensive lineman Eric VandenHeuvel, defensive backs Allen Langford and Joe Stellmacher, linebackers Jonathan Casillas and Mark Zalewski, defensive tackle Jason Chapman, quarterback John Stocco, and punter Ken DeBauche.

In his first season on the sidelines, Bielema joins his predecessor Barry Alvarez as the second Wisconsin mentor to be named Big Ten Coach of the Year. Alvarez, the school's current Director of Athletics, was honored in 1993 and 1998. Bielema becomes the first individual in conference history to claim Coach of the Year honors in his first year as a head coach. Four other coaches were honored in their first year on campus, including Michigan State's John L. Smith (2003), Purdue's Joe Tiller (1997), Illinois John Mackovic (1988) and Ohio State's Earl Bruce (1979), but each of them had previous head coaching experience. Bielema guided the Badgers to 11 regular-season victories for the first time in school history, matching the program record of 11 triumphs (including a Rose Bowl win) set in 1998. He is the first rookie head coach (with no prior head coaching experience) in Big Ten history to guide a team to 10 or more victories and seven wins in conference play. Bielema is also only the sixth first-year head coach (with no prior experience) in NCAA history to win 11 or more games.

Congratulations to each of these men.

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