University at Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack, who last week was named a finalist for the Dick Butkus Award given to the nation’s top linebacker, followed that up Wednesday by earning Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Mack is the first UB player to be named the conference’s top defender, as he led the MAC in sacks with 10.5 and tackles for loss with 19. Mack tops the Bulls in tackles (94), interceptions (three) and forced fumbles (five). He holds the NCAA record for career forced fumbles with 16 and is tied for the NCAA mark in career tackles for loss with 75.
Mack leads a UB-record seven players on the All-MAC team. Running back Branden Oliver, wide receiver Alex Neutz, offensive lineman Jasen Carlson and defensive back Najja Johnson joined Mack on the first team. Fellow linebacker Adam Redden made the third team along with defensive lineman Colby Way.
Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch was named offensive player of the year and his coach, Rod Carey, earned top coach honors. Northern Illinois (12-0) will play for the MAC championship Friday against Bowling Green in Detroit.
In other MAC honors Wednesday, UB punter Tyler Grassman was chosen as the conference’s scholar athlete of the week. Grassman, a management major with a 3.83 grade point average, averaged 41.7 yards on nine punts in Friday’s loss to Bowling Green.