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Illini's Mercilus Wins National Award

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As tough as the end of the season was for the University of Illinois, they did get some good news on Wednesday when it was announced that defensive end Whitney Mercilus has won the Hendricks Award. The Hendricks goes to the best defensive end in the country.

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The other finalists were Oklahoma's Frank Alexander, Clemson's Andre Branch, Marshall's Vinny Curry, LSU's Sam Montgomery and USC's Nick Perry, Jr.

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This is the first time that an Illini football player has won a national award since Kevin Hardy won the Butkus award in 1995.

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Mercilus led the nation this past season in sacks,forced fumbles, and sacks per game.  The Illini junior was also a first- team All- American  and first- team All Big 10 this past season. Mercilus is also a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski trophy which is awarded to the nations top defender. 

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The Illini defensive end will receive his award on March 17th at a ceremony in Miami,