Six Salukis earn academic All-Conference honors

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    Nov. 30, 2011

    By John Lock

    ST. LOUIS, Mo. - Six Southern Illinois football players earned Missouri Valley Football Conference Academic All-Conference honors, the league announced Wednesday.

    Connor James, Mike McElroy and David Pickard earned first-team honors. Joe Okon and Austin Pucylowski earned second-team honors. Jason Stegman earned an honorable mention nod.

    Forty student-athletes, including 14 who earned first-team honors, highlight the 2011 Missouri Valley Football Conference All-Academic team. Six of the 14 first-teamers also earned 2011 Capital One Academic All-District plaudits, as selected by College Sports Information Directors (CoSIDA).

    Nominees must be starters or important reserves with at least a 3.20 cumulative grade point average (4.0 scale). Student-athletes must have reached sophomore academic and athletic standing at their institutions (freshmen are not eligible) and must have completed at least one full academic year at their institution. League sports information directors voted on the team by designating 11 players for first-team honors and 11 players for second-team honors.

    Connor James graduated cum laude in May 2010 in exercise science, and he currently holds a 4.0 GPA towards a master's in sports administration. James earned the President's Academic Award in 2010 and the MVFC Commissioner's Academic Excellence Award in 2009. He started every game in 2011 at middle linebacker and was sixth on the team in tackles.

    Mike McElroy (3.73 GPA, health education) earned first-team honors for the first time in his career, after earning second-team All-Acadmic honors in 2008 and 2009. He is a three-time recipient of the conference's Commissioner's Academic Excellence Award and a 2009 second-team ESPN the Magazine Academic All-American. McElroy is a two-time first-team All-Conference performer, and he ended his career third in school history with 15 career interceptions.



    David Pickard graduated magna cum laude in summer 2010 with a bachelor's in political science with a criminal justice minor. He currently holds a 4.0 GPA towards a master's degree in public administration. This is his second consecutive first-team All-Academic selection. Pickard was a 2010 second-team ESPN the Magazine Academic All-American. He was named to the FCS ADA Academic All-Star team. Pickard started 43 games in his career, including the last 35 in a row. He was a three-time All-Conference performer and was named third-team All-America in 2009 by The Sports Network.

    Joe Okon (3.323 GPA, psychology) earned his first All-Academic honor with his second-team selection. He is a two-time honoree on the MVFC Academic Honor Roll. He started 10 games at inside linebacker and finished third on the team in tackles.

    Austin Pucylowski holds a 4.0 GPA in pre-med. He was an MVFC Academic Honor Roll honoree as a true freshman in 2010. He averaged 38.3 yards on 53 punts. Only 16 of his 53 punts were returned, and 21 were covered inside the 20.

    Jason Stegman (3.783 GPA, electrical engineering) earned honorable mention honors. He was the starting long snapper all season. He received the MVFC Commissioner's Academic Excellence Award in 2010 and was named to the MVFC Academic Honor Roll in 2009. He recorded two tackles in 2011.

    McElroy and Pickard both earned 2011 Capital One Academic All-District honors earlier this season and are eligible for first-team Academic All-American laurels. Academic All-America selections will be revealed on Dec. 8.