In a season of firsts for the Northern Illinois football team, three Huskie football players were named to the Capital One Academic All-America football team.
Two Northwestern players also were named Academic All-Americans as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America.
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NIU defensive end Alan Baxter of Buffalo Grove was named to the first team, and nose guard Nabal Jefferson and tight end Jason Schepler earned second team honors, giving Northern Illinois three selections to the first and second teams, the most of any NCAA Division I team.
"It's a year of firsts for NIU football with our first BCS Bowl Bid and first 12-win season, but even more prestigious is to have three Academic All-Americans in the same year when we've never even had two (in the same year) before," said NIU head coach Ron Carey. "I'm extremely proud of this institution and these three young men and how they have represented our program."
For Northwestern, senior offensive lineman Patrick Ward of Homer Glen earned his second career first-team Academic All-America honor while senior defensive lineman Brian Arnfelt earned second-team distinction.
Ward is one of five repeat selections to this year's Capital One Academic All-America football first team.
Baxter, who graduated from Buffalo Grove High School, is a finance major with a 3.61 grade-point average. Baxter ranks second in the Mid-American Conference in quarterback sacks with 9.5 and has 11 tackles for loss to lead a Northern Illinois defense that ranks 11th in the country in sacks and ninth in tackles for loss.
Jefferson, a senior from Marist High School, has a 3.78 GPA in accountancy. Jefferson has 56 tackles and six tackles for loss on the season.
Schepler, been a dominating blocker for the Huskies in 2012, is an electrical engineering major from Sycamore with a 3.86 GPA.
Ward, a mechanical engineering major at Northwestern with a 3.94 GPA, will make his 40th consecutive start when the Wildcats travel to the Gator Bowl on Jan. 1.
A Northwestern co-captain, Arnfelt recorded career highs in tackles (24) and tackles for loss (6.0) for the Wildcats. Arnfelt graduated last spring with a degree in communication studies, with minors in business institutions and legal studies, and currently is pursuing a master's in sports administration.