Northern Illinois senior quarterback Jordan Lynch became the first Mid-American Conference player to ever be named a finalist for the Walter Camp Player of the Year award on Wednesday.
Lynch was selected as one of five finalists for the award along with Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, Alabama QB AJ McCarron, Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel and Boston College running back Andre Williams. No MAC player has ever won the award, which dates back to 1967. The award started naming finalists in 2001.
For the second consecutive year, Lynch was also named the MAC’s Most Valuable Player, winning the Vern Smith Leadership Award. It’s the sixth time in the past seven seasons the honor has gone to a Huskie. Chandler Harnish won in 2011, while Chad Spann took it home in 2010. Larry English won it in both 2007 and 2008 and Garrett Wolfe was the winner in 2006.
“I don’t know what else I can say about Jordan, he has had a great year,” NIU coach Carey said. “This isn’t a career award, it’s an award based on this year and he’s earned it. The fact NIU has had seven players honored in the last eight years speaks to the tradition being built here and the program in place.”
Lynch has completed 64.5 percent of his passes for 2,457 yards and only five interceptions. He has 22 passing touchdowns and 20 rushing scores.
Lynch, who averages 351 yards of total offense, is also a finalist for the Manning and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Awards.
NIU head coach Rod Carey was named MAC Coach of the Year, joining Bill Mallory (1983) and Joe Novak (2002) as the only NIU coaches to win the award.
Six Huskie players in total were named to the All-MAC first team, more than any other team in the conference. Joining Lynch on the offensive side were offensive lineman Tyler Loos and wide receiver Tommylee Lewis.
Defensively, safety Jimmie Ward, linebacker Jamaal Bass and defensive lineman Ken Bishop were named to the All-MAC team.
“All three of them are very deserving,” Carey said of Ward, Bass and Bishop. “Defense is kind of like baseball, you want to be strong up the middle. We’ve got Ken, Jamal and Jimmie who line up (mostly) in the middle so I think that goes to show where our strength is. I’m really proud of all three of them and how they’ve worked.”
NIU looks for its third straight MAC Championship Friday in Detroit when the Huskies take on Bowling Green. Should the Huskies win, Lynch is expected to be a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, which will be given out in New York City on Dec. 14.