After being hilariously snubbed from the list of finalists for the Butkus Award, despite the fact that he was one of the leaders for one of the most fearsome defenses in the country and had one of the most impressive statistical seasons out of any NCAA linebacker, Mike Hull was named to the USA Today All-American second team today.
This comes as a surprise to exactly 0 Penn State fans, after Hull was an absolute monster on the field. Not only was he the play-caller and senior leader for the Nittany Lion defense, but he had the stats to back it up. Hull finished the year with 134 total tackles, 73 of which were solo tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 interception, 1 fumble recovery, and 4 passes defended.
Nittany Lion fans everywhere knew that Mike Hull was going to a great linebacker, but I think even the most vocal Hull-supporters were surprised at the level of dominance he displayed this season. Coming off of a less-than-inspiring junior season in which he was plagued by injuries, Hull was moved to the middle linebacker role for Bob Shoop's defense. To say that the Canonsburg, PA native thrived in that role would be an extreme understatement. Whether it was picking off the pass that nearly helped deliver Penn State to victory over playoff-bound Ohio State, constantly matching up in pass coverage with players that probably expected to beat him by 10 yards, or being the heat seeking ballistic missile that sought to destroy anything in his path, Mike Hull was a force of nature this season.
It sucks to say goodbye to any senior from the team, but saying goodbye to Mike Hull will be especially hard. The honor and courage of the 2012 seniors is referenced still to this day, for their decisions to stick with the team. The kids who had the most to gain by leaving though, were the kids like Mike Hull. The ones who still had 3 or more years of eligibility left, and could have played them out with a bowl-bound team loaded with a full roster. Instead, Mike Hull and so many others chose to stick around, and are finally being justly rewarded. After fighting through two postseason-less years, playing for four different head coaches (Paterno, Bradley, O'Brien, Franklin), and still staying focused enough to develop into one of the top linebackers in the country, if anyone deserves to be recognized, it's Mike Hull.
So congratulations, Mike. We're still annoyed that you won't be receiving the Butkus Award that you so clearly deserve, and we think your spot on the All-American first team was robbed, but at least you have this. It's a wonderful honor, and no one deserves it more than you.
Hull is one of 11 Big Ten players on the two teams, joining Melvin Gordon, Tevin Coleman, Brandon Scherff, Jack Allen, Joey Bosa, Rob Havenstein, Maxx Williams, Kurtis Drummond, Brad Craddock, and DeMornay Pierson-El.