Robert Morris senior defensive lineman Nolan Nearhoof garnered Capital One Academic All-America honors in an announcement made by the College Sports Information Directors of America.
Nearhoof, a biology major, claimed his third-consecutive Academic All-America honor, but his first of the First Team variety. He is a Mars High School graduate.
The Division I Academic All-America football teams encompass student-athletes from both the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision and the Football Championship Subdivision levels although three-quarters of this year’s selections came from FBS schools. In fact, Robert Morris is the only FCS institution to have more than one football Academic All-American in 2012 as Nearhoff is joined by senior linebacker Brad Banas.
Additionally, Robert Morris was the only Northeast Conference school to garner an Academic All-American award in football this year.
This First Team award is one of the most significant, but far from the first, honors Nearhoof has claimed for his performances on and off the field. Nearhoof becomes the first football student-athlete from any NEC school (including past football-playing members) to earn three Academic All-America honors in a career.
Additionally, he becomes just the third student-athlete ever from any sport to earn three Academic All-America honors among the histories of the 12 current NEC members.
Nearhoof, who owns a 3.74 grade point average, has claimed the NEC’s Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year award in both the 2010 and 2011 seasons with the 2012 award yet to be announced.
Furthermore, Nearhoof was recently selected as one of 15 National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athletes and was the only one at the FCS level. As a result, he was granted an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship and was a finalist for the 2012 William V. Campbell Trophy that recognizes an individual as the absolute best scholar-athlete in the nation.
Nearhoof posted a career-best 76 tackles in 2012, second on the team, while starting all 11 games at defensive end.
He tallied a career-high 13 tackles for loss, a mark which included 10.5 sacks. In doing so, he became just the third Colonial to post a double-digit sack total in a single season.
Nearhoof not only led the NEC in sacks per game, but he ranks sixth nationally in that category. Nearhoof also added 11 quarterback hurries and two pass breakups this year.
He posted eight tackles, including five solo stops, and a sack against eventual NEC champion Wagner and registered 11 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss in a win over Duquesne.
Nearhoof’s final season capped off a career that saw him rewrite the Robert Morris and Northeast Conference record books. He finished his four years and 40 career games with 26.5 sacks, both a school and NEC record.
He notched 36 career tackles for loss, a mark that ranks among the top five all-time at RMU, while posting 213 overall tackles and three fumble recoveries.
Nearhoof was the only defensive lineman honored, on the First or Second team, from the FCS level, and his 76 tackles in 2012 were the most among all the defensive linemen selected. Other First Team honorees on the defensive line included a starter on a team heading to a Bowl Championship Series (BCS) Bowl and a Big Ten player.
While Robert Morris was the only FCS school with two selections, it joined a select group of universities that had more than one student-athlete honored that included Northwestern and Notre Dame.
Nearhoof becomes just the fourth student-athlete from any sport in RMU history to be named a First Team Academic All-American.
The student-athletes on the Division I Academic All-America Football First Team combined for a 3.715 GPA.
(photo courtesy of Robert Morris University)