April 16, 2011
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Juniors Dan Persa (Bethlehem, Pa./Liberty) and Brian Peters (Pickerington, Ohio/Pickerington Central) were named Northwestern's Most Valuable Players for the 2010 season at Saturday's annual Northwestern Gridiron Network Auction.
Persa's 73.5 percent pass completion last season led all FBS quarterbacks and broke the Big Ten single-season record. His four interceptions in 302 attempts were the fewest among all quarterbacks, and his 159.04 passer rating, which broke the Northwestern single-season record, was good for ninth in the country. Through the first 10 games of the season, Persa was responsible for 75-percent of NU's offense, once again leading the nation. A torn Achilles' tendon against Iowa caused him to miss the last three games, but the captain was able to garner first-team All-Big Ten honors, Academic All-Big Ten honors, and an honorable mention All-American selection by College Football News.
Peters earned a second-team All-Big Ten selection by conference media and an honorable mention by Big Ten coaches, on top of Academic All-Big Ten honors. College Football News named the safety to the first-team All-Big Ten roster. As a starter in all 13 games, Peters led Northwestern with 107 tackles on the season, and was tied for ninth in the conference with three interceptions. Against Illinois, Peters had 18 tackles and two interceptions, including one for a 59-yard touchdown return.
Special teams standouts Venric Mark and Brandon Williams both earned NGN Newcomers of the Year awards. Mark, one of only two true freshmen to play all 13 games in 2010, averaged 10.0 yards per punt return and 23.8 yards per kickoff return for the Wildcats. Mark shattered the previous NU record for kick return yards in a game by netting 273 yards against Wisconsin, including a 94-yard return for TD.
Williams played in all 13 games and ranked 28th nationally with 38.0 net punting yards, 34.4-percent of which were downed inside the opponents' 20-yard line. The freshman engineering major was named NU's Special Teams Player of the Week against Vanderbilt and Iowa with a 42.4-yard and 43.7-yard average, respectively. Against Illinois, Williams averaged 45.2 yards per punt, including a career-best 61-yard boot.
Other awards handed out include: The George W. Ballantine Award (given to the player who best demonstrates the enthusiasm and leadership of Ballantine): senior offensive guard, Keegan Grant (Coal City, Ill./Coal City); the Marcel Price Award (for enthusiasm and dedication to the Wildcats): senior outside linebacker Quentin Davie (St. Louis, Mo./Cardinal Ritter); the Bryan Paynter "Ultimate Wildcat" Award (for confronting adversity and putting the needs of the team first): senior offensive lineman Al Netter (Rohnert Park, Calif./Cardinal Newman) and senior superback Drake Dunsmore (Lenexa, Kan./Saint Thomas Aquinas); the Randy Walker Wildcat Warrior Award (for ethic and toughness): senior defensive lineman Corbin Bryant (Chicago, Ill./Morgan Park); the Thomas Airth Spirit Award (given for inspiring teammates): senior defensive lineman Andrew Struckmeyer (Vienna, Va./Thomas Jefferson); the Carnig Minasian Citizenship Award (given for being an outstanding citizen on campus and with the team): senior superback Josh Rooks (Zeeland, Mich./Holland Christian); and the Rashidi Wheeler Award: senior wide receiver Sidney Stewart (Farmington Hills, Mich./Farmington Harrison).
Persa, Netter, Bryant and Davie also were honored for serving as the team's 2010 co-captains.
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