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2017 Best Players in the MAC: #14 Shawun Lurry, CB, Northern Illinois

Lurry aims to replicate 2015 in his final year in DeKalb

NCAA Football: Central Michigan at Northern Illinois Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Shawun Lurry is unique. Unlike any other player on this list, he has previously achieved First-Team All-American honors (FWAA).

Lurry's spectacular 2015 season landed him prestigious spots on many All-American lists. His FBS-high nine interceptions two seasons ago drew the eyes of the Walter Camp Football Foundation (Second-Team) and the Associated Press (Third-Team).

Lurry was not just a MAC superstar, but a nationally prominent shutdown corner. The ballhawk now owns 12 career interceptions, 303 interception return yards, and one touchdown to his name in just the past two seasons alone.

Just like the Huskies, who missed out on bowl season for the first time since 2007, Lurry's 2016 was not nearly as phenomenal as his 2015. But even though his interception total dropped from nine to three, the Midwest remains cognizant of Northern Illinois' talented cornerback.

Just ask Cardale Jones. The former National Championship-winning quarterback threw two interceptions to Lurry in September 2015. The Huskies capitalized off of Lurry's defensive prowess and scored off of both turnovers. Northern Illinois would narrowly fall to the No. 1 team in the nation, but Lurry allowed the Huskies to frighten the Buckeyes that afternoon.

Lurry thrives as a solid wrap-up tackler too. The senior cornerback tied his career-high last season in a blowout win over Ball State with eight tackles, including 1.5 in the backfield.

Northern Illinois tested Lurry as a punt returner early in 2016, but later switched him out of the position. Nonetheless, Lurry showed capabilities of fielding punts and affecting the Huskies' special teams play. He led the team with seven punt returns and 51 yards during the 2016 slate.

Despite Lurry's on-field successes, one major attribute may hurt his NFL Draft stock: his size. At 5-feet-8-inches tall and 178 pounds, Lurry possesses a small frame for a cornerback. Many wide receivers above 6-foot-1 and tight ends may attempt to draw mismatches on Lurry throughout the season. Luckily for the Huskies, Lurry draws an edge over many opposing wideouts with his speed and elusiveness. He led the entire nation in interception return yards in 2015, so once the ball gets into Lurry's hands, expect him to take advantage of open-field opportunities.

Lurry suffered several minor injuries in 2016. In a loss to South Florida, he injured his right elbow and he injured his ankle while making the game-saving pass breakup in the end zone to beat Eastern Michigan at The Factory in November. Northern Illinois' injury list was a long one in 2016, but Lurry will return with six other defensive starters in hopes of reaching bowl season.

Expect a bounce back year from Lurry. The West Palm Beach native has the potential to hear his name called as high as the second day at the 2018 NFL Draft. This is the final season for the record-holding cornerback in DeKalb — a player that will join among the ranks of Jimmie Ward and Larry English as star Huskie defenders.