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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.