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Northern Illinois DE Sutton Smith named AP All-American

The FBS sacks and TFLs leader earns his recognition.

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NCAA Football: Northern Illinois at San Diego State Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Northern Illinois defensive end Sutton Smith was selected as a member of the 2017 All-American team by the Associated Press.

Smith was the lone Northern Illinois selection and the only MAC player to land a spot on the AP All-American teams. He finished as one of two Second Team defensive ends, alongside Ohio State's Nick Bosa. The First Team defensive ends were Clemson's Clelin Ferrell and North Carolina State's Bradley Chubb.

Smith ranks first in the nation in both sacks (14) and tackles for loss (29) headed into bowl season. The sophomore pass rusher experienced a breakout campaign where he led the Huskies to one of the premier defenses in the country. NIU ranks 11th in rushing yards allowed per game, second in team sacks, and first in team tackles for loss.

Smith contributed heavily to these statistical categories. He recorded 56 total tackles and also deflected three pass attempts as the team's most versatile defender. The 6-foot-1 Missouri native also played a significant role in the turnover battle, forcing and recovering three fumbles each. Smith cashed in two of these fumble recoveries in for six, scoring two touchdowns in an all-around impressive season.

He becomes the first Northern Illinois player to achieve an AP All-American selection since his teammate Shawun Lurry was honored as a Third Team cornerback in 2015. Quarterback Jordan Lynch (2012, 2013) and strong safety Jimmie Ward (2013) are the other Rod Carey-coached AP All-Americans.

The defensive end will take the field with the 8-4 Huskies for the final time in the 2017 season on December 26 as a participant in the Quick Lane Bowl against Duke (6-6).

The full list of AP All-American teams can be found here.