WMU News

Babin named MAC football defensive player of the year

Dec. 6, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- The best defensive player in the Mid-American Conference plays at Western
Michigan University. Better yet, he is a local product.

Jason Babin of Paw Paw, Mich., was named MAC Defensive Player of the Year by the league office in voting conducted by the MAC News Media Association.

A junior defensive end, Babin becomes the fifth Bronco to earn defensive player of the year honors, the first since linebacker Sean Mulhearn was cited in 1990. Other past WMU recipients include defensive tackle Mark Garalczyk (1986), linebacker John Offerdahl (1985) and lineman Bob Rowe (1965 and 1966).

Babin set school records this season with 15 pass sacks and 26 tackles for loss, leading the MAC in
both categories. In the latest NCAA statistics released in November, Babin ranked second nationally in sacks and seventh in tackles for loss. He led the Broncos with 72 solo tackles and finished third in total tackles with 94. A starter in all 12 games, Babin also recorded a team-best 10 quarterback hurries and forced two fumbles. The 6-4, 265-pound end registered 17 tackles versus Buffalo and 16 against Central Michigan.

Babin was also a contributor on special teams and offense. He blocked two punts and was the seventh-leading tackler on special teams. Babin also caught three passes as a blocking back all for first downs.

"Jason really stood out defensively and was an outstanding player in so many categories, not just sacks," said WMU head coach Gary Darnell. "He was the best defensive player I saw play in the MAC this season."

Despite a 4-8 overall record, Babin was part of a defensive unit that ranked No. 1 in the MAC in total defense (330.7 ypg), second in pass defense (179.5 ypg) and fifth in run defense (151.2 ypg) under the direction of coordinator Jim Knowles. Babin was instructed this season by first-year defensive line coach Bruce Tall.

Babin's selection marks an impressive run for the Bronco football program, which has collected every MAC specialty award over the past six seasons. Robert Sanford received the Vern Smith (MAC MVP) and Offensive Player of the Year awards in 2000 along with Freshman of the Year accolades in 1997. Kicker Brad Selent, another Paw Paw native, took home the inaugural Special Teams Player of the Year trophy in 1998 and Gary Darnell was named Coach of the Year in 2000.

Media contact: Daniel Jankowski, 269 387-4138, daniel.jankowski@wmich.edu

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