|Nearhoof Claims Third NEC Scholar-Athlete Award|
Moon Township, Pa. - For the third consecutive year, senior defensive lineman Nolan Nearhoof (Gibsonia, Pa. / Mars Area) of the Robert Morris University football team was honored by the Northeast Conference (NEC) for his performance on the field and in the classroom, as he was named the 2012 NEC Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year in an announcement by the league office Thursday.
Nearhoof, who became the fourth Colonial in program history to earn the award with his first such accolade in 2010, is now just the second RMU student-athlete in school history to win three NEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards.
Jeff Witmyer claimed three Scholar-Athlete honors when combining his awards from both indoor track & field and outdoor track & field.
To be eligible for the NEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year in a sport, a student-athlete must have earned a minimum of 60 semester hours, maintained a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.20 and participated with distinction as a member of a varsity team. A biology major, Nearhoof has posted a cumulative GPA of 3.73 through the 2012 fall semester.
Nearhoof claimed the two highest athletic honors of his career in 2012 as he was named an All-American on the defensive line by The Sports Network in addition to grabbing the NEC Defensive Player of the Year honor. In winning RMU’s fourth Defensive Player of the Year honor in the past nine seasons, Nearhoof also notched his third straight All-NEC First Team honor.
Nearhoof saved his best for last as the senior set career highs in a number of key categories in 2012 while consistently causing havoc in opponents’ backfields. He posted a career-best 76 tackles in 2012, second on the team, while starting all 11 games at defensive end. However, he really made his mark by tackling opponents behind the line of scrimmage as he tallied a career-high 13 tackles for loss along with 10.5 sacks. In doing so, he became just the third Colonial to post a double-digit sack total in a single season. Nearhoof not only led the NEC in sacks per game, but he ranked sixth nationally in that category. Nearhoof also added 11 quarterback hurries and two pass breakups on the year. He posted eight tackles, including five solo stops, and a sack against eventual NEC champion Wagner and registered 11 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss in a win over local rival Duquesne.
Nearhoof’s final season capped off an incredible career that saw him rewrite the Robert Morris and Northeast Conference record books. He finished his four years and 40 career games with 26.5 sacks, a figure that not only blew past the previous top mark at RMU, but was also good enough to move him into the top spot in the career annals of the NEC. He notched 36 career tackles for loss, a mark that ranks among the top five all-time at RMU, while posting 213 overall tackles and three fumble recoveries in his illustrious career.
This prestigious honor is the latest in a long line for Nearhoof, who has garnered a litany of awards for his combined academic and athletic achievement. He recently earned his third Academic All-America accolade to become the first football student-athlete from any NEC school (including past football-playing members) to earn three Academic All-America honors in a career. Furthermore, Nearhoof was also selected as one of 15 National Football Foundation (NFF) National Scholar-Athletes in 2012 and was the only one named at the FCS level. As a result, he was granted an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship and was a finalist for the 2012 William V. Campbell Trophy that recognizes an individual as the absolute best scholar-athlete in the nation.
In addition to the honor for Nearhoof, a total of 95 student-athletes from Robert Morris covering seven fall sports, including 45 male student-athletes, were named to the 2012 NEC Fall Academic Honor Roll. To be eligible for the honor roll, student-athletes must have posted a cumulative GPA of 3.20 and be an active member of an officially recognized varsity team. Freshmen are eligible for the honor roll.
Of RMU’s 95 student-athletes to be named to the 2012 NEC Fall Academic Honor Roll, 36 were named to the NEC Fall Commissioner's Honor Roll. To garner the honor, a student-athlete must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.75, and freshmen are eligible for the honor roll.
The Colonials led all NEC schools in both overall selections to the Academic Honor Roll and the Commissioner’s Honor Roll.
To view the entire list of Robert Morris student-athletes that competed in a fall sport named to either the 2012 NEC Academic Honor Roll or the 2012 NEC Fall Commissioner's Honor Roll, please click on the respective links associated with this article.