EVANSTON, Ill.--For the second straight year, Northwestern landed two players on the Capital One Academic All-America® football team, announced Thursday by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Senior offensive lineman Patrick Ward (Homer Glen, Ill./Providence Catholic) earned his second career first-team Academic All-America honor while senior defensive lineman Brian Arnfelt (Lake Elmo, Minn./Stillwater) garnered second-team distinction.
Ward and Arnfelt are among 48 total Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) players in the country to be voted to the first or second teams, with Ward as one of five repeat selections to this year's Capital One Academic All-America® football first team. The tandem was entered for national consideration after being named Capital One Academic All-District V selections last month.
The honor is the latest in a string of accolades for Ward, a mechanical engineering major with a 3.94 GPA and a three-year starter for the Wildcats. Ward recently was chosen as a recipient of the National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete Awards and was a finalist for the prestigious William V. Campbell Trophy in college football. Also an honorable mention All-Big Ten performer on the field this season, Ward was a catalyst on an offensive line that allowed the second-fewest sacks in the Big Ten and generated the fourth-best rushing attack in the conference this year. He is poised to make his 40th consecutive start when the 'Cats travel to the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl on Jan. 1.
A 2012 co-captain, Arnfelt enjoyed a stellar senior season where he recorded career highs in tackles (24) and tackles for loss (6.0) to help Northwestern post the third-best rushing defense in the Big Ten. He also caused two fumbles and notched one fumble recovery. In the classroom, Arnfelt graduated last spring with a degree in communication studies, with minors in business institutions and legal studies, and currently is pursuing a master's in sports administration.
Northwestern football now has 34 Academic All-Americans in its history -- including six since 2008 -- and has had more than one honoree in the same year on nine occasions. NU is one of five Big Ten teams to land a representative on this year's Capital One Academic All-America® teams and is one of three conference programs with multiple honorees.
To be eligible for the award, a player must be in at least his second year of athletic eligibility, be a first-team or key performer and carry a cumulative 3.30 grade point average. The 24 members of the 2012 Capital One Academic All-America® first team possess a combined average GPA of 3.71.