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Northern Illinois DE Sutton Smith racks up three All-American selections

Walter Camp, FWAA, and the Associated Press name the MAC Defensive Player of the Year as an All-American.

NCAA Football: MAC Championship-Northern Illinois at Buffalo Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The accolades continue to pile up for one of the nation’s most dominant pass rushers.

Northern Illinois defensive end Sutton Smith was recognized as a First Team All-American by the Associated Press and a Second Team All-American by the Football Writers Association of America on Monday afternoon.

Last week, Smith was also showered with Walter Camp All-American honors as a member of the Second Team, resulting in his third major All-American selection of 2018.

In 2017, Smith was recognized as a consensus All-American, meaning he earned selections by the AP, FWAA, Walter Camp, AFCA, and Sporting News. The latter of the two have yet to release their teams yet.

For the second-consecutive year, Smith was named the MAC Defensive Player of the Year and a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award, signifying the nation’s best defensive end. The junior also received the Vern Smith Leadership Award, which recognizes the most valuable player in the Mid-American Conference.

Smith’s Huskies also won their first MAC Championship since 2014, clawing back from a 19-point deficit to upset the Buffalo Bulls, 30-29, in Detroit on November 30. In the game, the defensive end tied his career-high by recording 10 tackles, additionally contributing two sacks to stall the Buffalo offense in the second half.

The Missouri native who was originally recruited as a running back is first in the entire FBS with 15.0 sacks — a category in which he led the nation during his 2017 sophomore campaign. Out of all FBS defenders, Smith is second overall in tackles for loss with 24.5 behind Louisiana Tech’s Jaylon Ferguson. Entering bowl season, the Smith-led Northern Illinois defense is the only unit to have compiled 50 sacks in 2018.

No. 15 continued to stuff the stat sheet and contribute to the Huskies’ scoring effort. In a 38-15 win over Toledo, Smith blocked a punt, recovered the ball, and ran it in for his first touchdown of the season. To conclude the regular season, Smith returned a fumble 85 yards to the opposite end zone for his second touchdown of the year and fourth of his career. In the turnover department, he forced four fumbles in 2018 and recovered three.

With an upcoming bowl game in Boca Raton against UAB, Smith (30 sacks) has an opportunity to pass former NIU great Larry English (31.5) as the program’s all-time sack leader before his junior season ends.

Smith is the fourth NIU AP All-American in the Rod Carey era (QB Jordan Lynch, SS Jimmie Ward, CB Shawun Lurry), and the Huskies have more selections than any other MAC team since 2012. In 2018, he was the only Walter Camp, FWAA, or AP selection to hail from the MAC.