For the third consecutive year, Robert Morris senior defensive lineman Nolan Nearhoof was named the Northeast Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Nearhoof, who became the fourth Colonial in program history to earn the award with his first such accolade in 2010, is now just the second Robert Morris student-athlete in school history to win three NEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards.
Jeff Witmyer claimed three Scholar-Athlete honors when combining his awards from both indoor track & field and outdoor track & field.
To be eligible for the NEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year in a sport, a student-athlete must have earned a minimum of 60 semester hours, maintained a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.20 and participated with distinction as a member of a varsity team. A biology major and Mars graduate, Nearhoof has posted a cumulative GPA of 3.73 through the 2012 fall semester.
Nearhoof claimed the two highest athletic honors of his career in 2012 as he was named an All-American on the defensive line by The Sports Network in addition to grabbing the NEC Defensive Player of the Year honor. In winning RMU’s fourth Defensive Player of the Year honor in the past nine seasons, Nearhoof also notched his third straight All-NEC First Team honor.
Nearhoof set career highs in a number of key categories in 2012.
He had a career-best 76 tackles, second on the team, while starting all 11 games.
He tallied a career-high 13 tackles for loss along with 10.5 sacks. He became just the third Colonial to post a double-digit sack total in a single season.
Nearhoof led the NEC in sacks per game and ranked sixth nationally.
Nearhoof added 11 quarterback hurries and two pass breakups.
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 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 conference record. He notched 36 tackles for loss, a mark that ranks among the top five all-time at Robert Morris, while posting 213 overall tackles and three fumble recoveries.
This honor is the latest in a long line for Nearhoof, who has garnered a litany of awards for his combined academic and athletic achievement.
He recently earned his third Academic All-America accolade to become the first football student-athlete from any NEC school (including past football-playing members) to earn three Academic All-America honors in a career.
Furthermore, Nearhoof was also selected as one of 15 National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athletes in 2012 and was the only one named 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.