Dec. 1, 2003
2003 CoSIDA Academic All-America Football Teams
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EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern's Jason Wright (Diamond Bar, Calif./Diamond Bar) and Jeff Backes (Columbus, Ohio/Upper Arlington) were named Academic All-Americans today by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
Wright was one of two running backs named to the University Division (NCAA Division I-A and I-AA) first team, while Backes was one of four defensive backs named to the second team. For Wright, it is his second straight first-team Academic All-America honor. He is the second player in NU football history to receive multiple first-team honors.
Wright, a senior, carries a 3.20 cumulative grade point average in psychology and Backes, a sophomore (junior academically), carries a 3.81 GPA, also in psychology. Both Wright and Backes are pre-med students.
To be nominated for the award, a student-athlete must be a starter or important reserve with at least a 3.20 cumulative grade point average (on a 4.0 scale) for his career. No athlete is eligible until he has reached sophomore athletic and academic standing at his institution.
"Jason and Jeff are outstanding student-athletes and certainly deserving of this award," said Northwestern head coach Randy Walker. "They have excelled at the highest level, both academically and athletically. They have great futures in front of them."
Named a second-team All-Big Ten running back last week, Wright led Northwestern in several statistical categories, including: rushing (1,151 yards), scoring (120 points), touchdowns (20) and all-purpose yards (1,535 yards). Nationally, he ranks third in touchdowns scored (20) and second in rushing touchdowns (19). He is the country's 34th-ranked rusher (95.9 ypg).
Wright became just the third player in NU history to record back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons. He is now fifth all-time on the Wildcats' all-time rushing list (2,388 yards) and fourth in all-time scoring (204 points).
Backes, who played running back and receiver as a freshman, made the transition to cornerback this season. He was a starter in all 12 games and totaled 43 tackles (27 solos), five pass breakups, a forced fumble and a tackle for loss. He also returned nine kickoffs, averaging 22.4 yards per return.
Backes was the only sophomore named to the first or second teams.