It was announced earlier today that senior defensive back Mike Nicolini (Novato, CA) of the University of Redlands collected yet another honor by landing on the 2010 American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division III Coaches' All-America Team for Defense. He becomes just the fourth Bulldog in school history to garner this award and the first to do so since 2003.
This prestigious accolade complements Nicolini's recent D3football.com All-West Region honors, which included First-Team recognition as a return specialist and a Second-Team nod for his contributions as a safety. Earlier this season, he was named the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Defensive Player of the Year and landed on the All-SCIAC Second Team as a return specialist.
This senior captain served as a formidable force in the Bulldog secondary throughout Redlands' historical 8-1 season. He led the team with 11.5 tackles for a loss of 50 yards to go along with 61 total hits. This ball hawk also ranked first among the Bulldogs with eight break-ups while also nabbing two interceptions, including a pick-six play for 61 yards against conference foe Cal Lutheran University. In addition, he recorded a quarterback-hurry and recovered a fumble during the season, revealing his true versatility as a defensive back.
Nicolini recorded 25 punt returns for a total of 296 yards, highlighted by his 58-yard scoring run during the Bulldogs' 51-7 dismantling of Occidental College. While opponents worked to avoid him, Nicolini still managed to collect 10 kickoff returns for 273 yards, averaging 27.3 yards per attempt. He posted a long of 53 yards on his only opportunity during the Bulldogs' 23-7 victory over Whitworth University (WA).
For his return efforts, he ranked second on the team in all-purpose yards with 630, sitting behind the Bulldogs' top receiver.
Nicolini is one of 22 seniors on this year's AFCA All-America team. Three juniors fill in the remaining spots.
The AFCA All-America team has existed since 1945 but later added a squad representative of smaller schools and eventually Division III in 1972.
For a complete list of the honorees, please log on to www.afca.com.