Eleven Spartan Football Players Earn Academic All-Big Ten Honors

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In the first three seasons under head coach Mark Dantonio, 30 student-athletes have been named Academic All-Big Ten.


Joel Foreman is not only an All American on the field but off.

Joel Foreman is not only an All American on the field but off.

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Eleven Michigan State football players have been named to the 2009 Academic All-Big Ten Team: junior punter Aaron Bates, junior fullback Nick Bendzuck, sophomore quarterback Kirk Cousins, fifth-year senior linebacker Adam Decker, red-shirt freshman offensive tackle John Deyo, sophomore offensive guard Joel Foreman, fifth-year senior fullback Andrew Hawken, red-shirt sophomore tight end Brian Linthicum, red-shirt sophomore quarterback Keith Nichol, red-shirt freshman offensive guard Ethan Ruhland and fifth-year senior wide receiver Blair White.


To be eligible for the Academic All-Big Ten Team, a student-athlete must be a letterwinner in his second academic year and carry at least a 3.0 cumulative grade-point average (on a 4.0 scale).


“It’s important that we continue to foster an environment that encourages and supports our student-athletes to pursue excellence, both in the classroom and on the playing field,” MSU head coach Mark Dantonio said. “We congratulate these 11 student-athletes who represent Michigan State on the Academic All-Big Ten Team. They have set the standard for excellence in the classroom.”


“For a coach to create an atmosphere of academic accountability, they must be extremely committed to reinforcing the value of an education,” MSU Associate Athletics Director/Student-Athlete Support Services Director Jim Pignataro said. “Coach Dantonio’s message, plus consistency, creates an environment that allows our student-athletes to reach the program’s academic goals.”


“Instilling a commitment to academic success has been a priority for Coach Dantonio since his first day on the job,” MSU Director of Academic Services for Student-Athletes Todd Edwards said. “With his coaching and family background, he understands and truly appreciates the value of education, and is continually stressing that to our student-athletes in both team and individual settings. We have team leaders on our Academic All-Big Ten list, and I’m also very encouraged by our younger student-athletes who are positioning themselves for this recognition in the future.”


Michigan State’s list of honorees includes six multi-year selections. Hawken and White have been named to the Academic All-Big Ten Team for the fourth-straight year. Decker is featured on the Academic All-Big Ten Team for the third time in his career, while Bates, Cousins and Foreman have made the honor roll for the second year in a row.


In the first three seasons under Coach Dantonio, 30 student-athletes have been named Academic All-Big Ten, including 11 selections each in 2008 and 2009.



2009 Academic All-Big Ten Team

Name (Hometown)                                                   Academic Major (GPA)

Aaron Bates (New Concord, Ohio)                           general management (3.95)

Nick Bendzuck (Strongsville, Ohio)                          finance (3.11)

Kirk Cousins (Holland, Mich.)                                    kinesiology (3.74)

Adam Decker (Rochester Hills, Mich.)                     finance (3.62)

John Deyo (Battle Creek, Mich.)                               general management (3.15)

Joel Foreman (Highland, Mich.)                                criminal justice (3.06)

Andrew Hawken (Grandville, Mich.)                         supply chain management (3.44)

Brian Linthicum (Charlottesville, Va.)                        general management (3.06)

Keith Nichol (Lowell, Mich.)                                       general business administration/pre-law (3.55)

Ethan Ruhland (Lake Orion, Mich.)                           human biology (3.45)

Blair White (Saginaw, Mich.)                                     human biology (3.89)