BLOOMINGTON, IN - OCTOBER 08: Dusty Kiel #8 of the Indiana Hoosiers attempts a pass while defended by Whitney Mercilus #85 of the Illinois Illini during the game at Memorial Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Bloomington, Indiana. Illinois won 41-20. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

College Football All-America Teams 2011: Whitney Mercilus Builds Accolades Heading Into 2012 Draft

Illinois Fighting Illini DE Whitney Mercilus has a growing number of awards to go with his 14.5 sack total and projected first-round pick.

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Whitney Mercilus Named AP First-Team All-American, Lone Illini Representative

The Illinois Fighting Illini are gearing up for a showdown with UCLA on December 31st in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, and everyone knows the player to watch in that game for the Illini is defensive end Whitney MercilusHe has won multiple awards and honors already this season, and now has been named a First-Team All-American peformer by the Associated Press. Mercilus, a redshirt junior DE, led the Illini and the nation with 14.5 sacks and 9 forced fumbles.

Other Big Ten players to make the first-team were Wisconsin junior running back Montee Ball, Wisconsin senior offensive guard Kevin Zeitler, Michigan senior center David Molk, Penn St. senior defensive tackle Devon Still and Michigan St. junior defensive tackle Jerel Worthy

For more, keep tabs on SB Nation Chicago and SB Nation's NCAA football page. For more on the Fighting Illini, check out Hail to the Orange, SB Nation's Illinois Fighting Illini blog.

Can't get enough of Whitney Mercilus? Check out Mocking the Draft's analysis on the soon-to-be-NFL defensive end.

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