EAST LANSING, Mich. â€“ Michigan State defensive end Marcus Rush, who ranked third on the team in tackles for loss (12 for 45 yards) and sacks (4 for 23 yards), has been named Freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association of America. Rush is one of two Big Ten players selected to the 28-man team, joining Northwestern safety Ibraheim Campbell.
It marks the fifth time in the last six years that a Spartan has earned a spot on the FWAA Freshman All-America Team, as Rush joins placekicker Brett Swenson (2006), linebacker Greg Jones (2007), offensive guard Joel Foreman (2008) and defensive tackle Jerel Worthy (2009).
Rush, who started all 14 games in 2011, previously earned Freshman All-America honors from Sporting News (first team), Yahoo! Sports (second team), Phil Steele (second team) and CollegeFootballNews.com (second team). He ranked second among Spartan defensive linemen with 58 tackles. Rush finished third on the team in quarterback hurries (12) and QB hits (10) and fourth in production points (162) during the regular season. His 10 tackles for loss and four sacks led all Big Ten freshmen. Rush was selected Big Ten Freshman Defensive MVP by ESPN.com. In addition, he was named to the ESPN.com, Yahoo! Sports and BTN.com Big Ten All-Freshman Teams.
The 6-foot-2, 250-pound Rush tied for the team lead with seven tackles, including two for losses (4 yards), in MSUâ€™s 33-30 triple-overtime win over Georgia in the 2012 Outback Bowl. He also was credited with a pass break-up against the Bulldogs, as Darqueze Dennard intercepted his tipped pass and returned it 38 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
The Cincinnati, Ohio, native played a solid all-around game in MSUâ€™s 31-17 victory at Northwestern, recording five tackles, including a career-best two sacks (6 yards), a forced fumble and pass break-up. Rush produced a career-high 11 tackles, including 2.5 for losses (4 yards), at Nebraska. He was selected Big Ten Freshman of the Week after producing four tackles, including a 7-yard sack, in MSUâ€™s 10-7 victory at Ohio State. Rush posted seven tackles, including two for losses (10 yards), and two quarterback hurries at Notre Dame.
â€œMarcus Rush opened preseason camp near the bottom of the depth chart at defensive end,â€ MSU defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi said. â€œMarcus was stuck behind bigger, stronger, more experienced guys, but by the end of two-a-days, he had worked his way into the starting lineup. Heâ€™s a little undersized, so itâ€™s like asking a linebacker to play defensive end. Marcus has great instincts as a football player to go along with a great motor. His desire is to reach his full potential â€“ to be the best (at his position).â€
â€œIt was neat to watch Marcus Rush mature throughout the season,â€ Spartan defensive line coach Ted Gill said. â€œHis work habits improved; he took great interest in studying film; and he came to the practice field ready to work. I truly came to appreciate the way he approached the game.
â€œMarcus is a little undersized for the position, but he combines tremendous quickness and strength. His versatility provided us with a chance to do a lot of different things, and he emerged as one of our most consistent playmakers. Marcus really excelled against some of his toughest physical matchups, just like he did in the bowl game against Georgia. He proved that he can do more than hold his own against 6-foot-5, 300-plus pounders.â€
Michigan State finished 11-3 in 2011, tying the school single-season record for victories.