*** 2011 HEISMAN TROPHY CANDIDATE ***
*** WALTER CAMP AWARD CANDIDATE ***
*** MANNING AWARD CANDIDATE ***
*** DAVEY O'BRIEN AWARD CANDIDATE ***
*** 2011 BIG TEN PRESEASON PLAYER TO WATCH ***
*** CAPITAL ONE ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICA CANDIDATE ***
*** LOWE'S SENIOR CLASS AWARD FINALIST ***
*** NATIONAL FOOTBALL FOUNDATION WILLIAM V. CAMPBELL TROPHY NOMINEE ***
PersaStrong Highlight Video
The 2011 Scouting Report: A candidate for nearly every major quarterback award, including the Heisman Trophy and the Walter Camp national player of the year award ... Named to the Manning Award and Davey O'Brien watch lists -- both awards honor the nation's top quarterback ... Capital One Academic All-America candidate and NU's National Football Foundation William V. Campbell Trophy nominee ... Phil Steele's and Sporting News preseason first-team All-Big Ten selection, and Athlon Sports preseason second-team pick ... Sporting News also spotlighted him as "Best Under Pressure" in the Big Ten ... Leads a Northwestern quarterback unit that was ranked No. 10 nationally by Athlon Sports ... Returning to action this fall after suffering a ruptured Achilles' tendon on his game-winning TD pass with 1:22 remaining vs. Iowa on Nov. 13, 2010 ... Sat out the entire spring season while rehabbing his leg ... Pound-for-pound is NU's most dynamic athlete ... Hardest-working player in the weight room ... Named NU's "Top Cat" two straight years (2009-10) -- honor is given to NU's most productive player in the weight room ... Brings a tremendous amount of versatility to the quarterback position ... Has a good arm to go along with outstanding running abilities ... Perhaps his biggest strengths are his leadership skills and winning mentality ... After shattering the Big Ten single-season record for pass completion percentage in 2010, on pace to become NU's all-time completion percentage leader ... Led the nation in 2010 in completion percentage and fewest interceptions thrown ... In his fourth year as a member of NU's 10-player Leadership Council -- first player to be named to the council four times.
2011: Team co-captain ... NU's starting quarterback ... Selected to play in 2012 East-West Shrine Game in Orlando, Fla. ... Closed illustrious career as Division I's (FBS and FCS divisions) career leader for pass completion percentage with a 72.7 (460-of-633) percentage ... Previous record (70.4) was held by Hawaii's Colt Brennan ... His career pass efficiency rating (155.04) ranks third all-time in the Big Ten record books (Troy Smith is first with a 158.4 rating) and third all-time among FBS players who completed 400 to 499 career passes ... Named one of 10 finalists for Lowe's Senior Class Award and was ultimately named a second-team Lowe's Senior Class All-American ... Consensus honorable mention All-Big Ten quarterback ... Will be honored by Chicago's National Football Foundation chapter with its "Mental Toughness" Award on Feb. 20, 2012 ... Started his first game of 2011 season on Oct. 1 (vs. Illinois), his first action since suffering the Achilles' injury against Iowa on Nov. 13, 2010 ... Consensus preseason All-Big Ten quarterback ... Named to watch lists for the Maxwell Award (outstanding player), Walter Camp Award (nation's top player), Davey O'Brien Award (outstanding QB), Manning Award (outstanding QB), Pony Express Award (nation's top two- or three-player tandems) ... Academic All-America candidate ... William V. Campbell Trophy nominee ... Named one of 12 Big Ten Preseason Players to Watch ... In 2011, led the nation in pass completion percentage (73.4) while ranking 13th nationally in pass efficiency (154.78), 23rd in completions (21.8) per game and 31st in passing yards per game (237.6) ... Against Illinois, completed 10-of-14 passes for 123 yards and a career-high four touchdown passes ... Completed his last eight pass attempts ... Sat out the final three NU offensive series with soreness in his foot ... Threw for 331 yards against Michigan ... Equaled a career best with 32 completions (44 attempts) vs. the Wolverines ... Completed 30-of-39 passes for 242 yards and a TD at Iowa ... Went 26-of-34 for 294 yards and a TD vs. Penn State ... Was 16-of-20 throwing for 261 yards and three touchdowns at Indiana ... Also rushed for a season-high 41 yards and finished the game with 302 yards of total offense ... Threw for a career-best 372 yards vs. Rice, which included a career-long 90-yard pass (a scoring strike to Jeremy Ebert) ... Completed 25-of-32 passes and equaled a career high with four TD strikes ... He suffered a career-most two interceptions against the Owls, yet his pass efficiency rating for the game was 202, an exceptional mark ... Went 22-of-31 for 216 yards and a pair of touchdowns vs. Minnesota ... Was 23-of-32 for 245 yards, two TD's and no interceptions vs. Michigan State ... Completed 71.4 percent of his passes or better in all but two games (season-high 80.0 percentage at Indiana) ... Ranks sixth on NU's all-time total offense list (5,897) ... Finished with 34 career TD tosses, in 20 career starts at QB, which ranks fifth on NU's all-time TD list ... Also ranks seventh on NU's career completion list (460) ... Academic All-Big Ten honoree ... More information on Persa at: PersaStrong.com.
2010: First-team All-Big Ten quarterback as named by coaches and the second-team choice by media ... Fifth QB in Northwestern history to earn first-team all-conference honors ... Team co-captain ... Named to Phil Steele's second-team Midseason and first-team Postseason All-Big Ten squad ... Honorable mention All-America selection by College Football News ... Named to the Manning Award Watch List on Oct. 25 ... Academic All-Big Ten ... 2010-11 Big Ten Distinguished Scholar recipient ... Honored by the Touchdown Club of Columbus as one of its 12 "Players to Watch" in 2011 ... Led FBS with 73.5 percent completion percent age, which broke the Big Ten and NU single-season records ... Finished ninth nationally in passing efficiency (159.04), besting the previous Northwestern mark of 136.3 (set by Len Williams in 1991) by nearly 23 points ... His career pass efficiency rating of 155.27 is also an NU best ... Suffered a season-ending ruptured Achilles' tendon on the same play he threw the game-winning touchdown pass with 1:22 remaining against Iowa ... Set career highs for passing yards (318), completions (32) and attempts (43) while throwing for two TD's, rushing for another and finishing with 50 ground yards (368 total offense yards) in the 21-17 win over the Hawkeyes ... Earned numerous accolades for his performance against Iowa, including Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week, Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week, Rivals.com Big Ten Player of the Week and CFPA Quarterback Performer of the Week ... Ranked first nationally on the year for the fewest interceptions thrown (4 in 302 attempts, 1.32 percent) among FBS players ... Also at the time of his injury: ranked second in conference and ninth nationally in total offense (310.0 ypg), second in Big Ten in passing yards per game (258.1), tied for third in conference in points responsible for (14.4) and tied for third nationally in fewest interceptions thrown (4) ... Finished his season completing 222-of-302 passes with 15 passing touchdowns, nine rushing scores and four interceptions ... Through the first 10 games, was responsible for over 75 percent of NU's offense (the second-highest figure among any FBS player) ... Team's second-leading rusher for the season with 519 yards (51.9 ypg), only 62 rushing yards shy of Zak Kustok's school record for rushing yards in a season by a quarterback (580 in 2001) ... Threw for 200 or more yards in nine of 10 games and topped 300 yards of total offense seven times ... At Penn State, rushed for a career-best 109 yards while throwing for 201 yards on 16-of-25 passing in his return to his native Pennsylvania ... His 109 yards on the ground represented the fourth-best single-game rushing performance by an NU quarterback (sixth 100-yard rushing game ever by a QB at Northwestern) ... Threw for 212 yards on 18-of-28 passing with two touchdowns in win at Indiana ... Against Michigan State, ran for 46 yards and three touchdowns while throwing for 187 yards on 18-of-29 passing ... Threw for 305 yards on 30-of-41 passing and rushed for one TD vs. Purdue ... At Minnesota, completed 23-of-30 passes for 309 yards with two touchdowns ... Also set career highs with 99 rushing yards and 408 yards of total offense (12th-best figure in NU history) vs. the Gophers ... His 99 rushing yards is the eighth-best single-game rushing figure by an NU quarterback ... Totaled 280 yards on 23-of-30 passing with two TD's along with 43 rushing yards vs. Central Michigan ... Threw for 307 yards on 24-of-32 passing with one touchdown at Rice while adding 34 rushing yards and an 18-yard TD run ... Against Illinois State, finished 19-of-23 for 240 yards and two touchdown passes while running for a third ... In his first career start at Vanderbilt, completed 19-of-21 passes for 222 yards with touchdown tosses of 33, nine and two yards and no interceptions ... Also NU's leading rusher against Vandy with 17 carries for 82 net yards ... Named honorable mention Quarterback of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards after Vanderbilt and Penn State games ... Wildcats' Offensive Player of the Game against Vanderbilt and Iowa and Offensive Big Playmaker vs. Minnesota, Michigan State and Penn State.
2009: Played in 10 games as NU's backup quarterback ... Rushed seven times for 23 yards at Illinois ... Played most of the second and third quarters in upset of No. 4 Iowa before being forced to leave the game with a hand injury ... Led NU in rushing vs. the Hawkeyes (67 yards on 17 attempts) and completed 5-of-9 passes for 37 yards, including the go-ahead 4-yard TD pass to Drake Dunsmore ... Entered NU's game vs. Penn State in the second quarter to replace an injured Mike Kafka and threw for 115 yards on 14-of-23 passing while also rushing 14 times for 42 yards on the ground ... Named team's offensive big playmaker against Penn State ... Four rushing yards on two carries at Michigan State ... One carry for two yards against Miami ... Saw action at Syracuse, carrying the ball twice for eight yards ... One carry for five yards against Eastern Michigan ... Played quarterback for the first time vs. Towson, completing a 72-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Brewer in the second quarter for his first career completion and scoring pass ... Academic All-Big Ten.
2008: Outstanding athlete who contributed on special teams while waiting for his opportunity to play quarterback ... No. 3 on NU's depth chart at QB ... Returned one kickoff return for 15 yards.
2007: Did not see action ... Named team's offensive practice player of the week on two occasions -- vs. Michigan State and Indiana.
High School:Rivals.com All-Region, SuperPrep All-Northeast and Velocity/PrepStar All-Region honoree ... Ranked 33rd among all players (third among quarterbacks) in Rivals.com Pennsylvania player ranking and 54th among all players in SuperPrep Pennsylvania player ranking ... Ranked 22nd-best dual-threat quarterback nationally by Rivals.com and 70th-best overall quarterback nationally by SuperPrep ... Ranked 93rd nationally by ESPN/Scouts, Inc. ... 2006 Pennsylvania 4A A.P. Player of the Year ... 4A first-team all-state quarterback ... 2006 Maxwell Club Award for top high school player of the year (Jim Henry Award) from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware ... 2006 Eastern Pennsylvania Football Player of the Year ... Quarterbacked Pennsylvania to a 28-10 victory over Ohio in the 50th Annual Big 33 All-Star game, which was televised by the NFL Network ... Starred in the game, earning MVP honors ... Rushed for two touchdowns and threw for another, while totaling 65 rushing yards (11 carries) ... Three-time all-area and All-Lehigh Valley Conference quarterback (2004-06) ... 2005-06 All-Area Player of the Year ... Became first player in Pennsylvania history to throw for over 2,000 yards and rush for over 1,000 yards in a single season ... Finished career with 5,779 passing yards (402-of-669), 59 passing TD's, 2,526 rushing yards (400 attempts) and 32 rushing TD's ... National Football Foundation (NFF) top Scholar-Athlete for the Lehigh Valley Chapter ... One of NFF's "Play it Smart" participants ... 2006 Platinum 33 selection ... Posted a 42-9 record as the Hurricanes' starting quarterback ... Team won the 2005 District XI championship and finished as the 4A PIAA state runner-up ... Liberty duplicated those feats again in 2006 ... Both years, the Hurricanes won the Eastern Pennsylvania championship ... NHS and Lehigh Valley Conference Scholar-Athlete ... Also lettered four years in basketball and three in track and field (sprinter) ... Football team captain ... Coached by Tim Moncman.
Personal: Born Daniel Vaughn Persa ... Son of Dan and Jane Persa ... Communication studies major.
The Persa File
Q: Name five favorite songs (and artist) on your I-Pod: A: Bulls on Parade -- Rage Against the Machine; Stairway to Heaven -- Led Zeppelin; Master of Puppets - Metallica; Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana; Touch, Peel, Stand -- Days of the New Q: What is the greatest lesson in life that you have learned? A: Never quit Q: Something people would be surprised to know about me is: A: I love sharks Q: My favorite place to visit is and why? A: Outer Banks, N.C., very relaxing Q: My favorite thing about NU is and why? A: The combination of Big Ten football and a world-class education Q: Best part about being a Northwestern football player is: A: Playing in the Big Ten Q: Describe Coach Fitzgerald in five words or less: A: Passionate and caring Q: Describe your position coach in five words or less: A: Wants the best for you Q: The best book I have ever read is and why? A: Lone Survivor, by Marcus Luttrell -- very inspiring, shows that football is just a game compared to war Q: The person that inspires me the most is: A: My parents Q: When I played football as a kid, I pretended to be: A: Drew Bledsoe Q: My favorite pregame ritual is: A: Listening to music in my locker Q: My favorite food is: A: Steak Q: Best thing about Northwestern is: A: Location and education Q: My ultimate SportsCenter highlight would be: A: Scoring a TD in the Rose Bowl Q: My favorite television show is and why? A: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Q: If I were not playing football, I would be: A: Going to school near a beach Q: The three words that best describe me: A: Passionate, hardworking, relaxed Q: My football-related superstition is: A: Looking the same every game Q: If the Big Ten expands in the future, pick one school you'd like to see added and why? A: Pitt, I know a lot of players that play there and to play another Pennsylvania school besides Penn State Q: Which FORMER NU football student-athlete has had the most impact on your Wildcat career and why? A: Coach Fitz -- very inspiring and has been through everything Northwestern so can give great advice
Dan Persa Feature (Big Ten Network) - Originally Aired: 10/8/11