Dec. 1, 2009
IRVING, Texas -- Eight Baylor student-athletes earned Big 12 Conference yearly football honors, the league office announced Tuesday.
Junior punter Derek Epperson was named to the first team by a vote of the league's head coaches. Three Bears seniors were named to the conference's second team including Jordan Lake, Joe Pawelek and J.D. Walton and an additional four players earned honorable mention: Justin Akers, David Gettis, Jason Lamb and Kendall Wright. Walton also earned honorable mention in the offensive lineman of the year voting.
The four first and second-team honorees is the most for Baylor in the 14 years of the Big 12 Conference. In five previous seasons, 1996, 1998, 2005, 2006 and 2008, three Bears had earned first or second-team honors.
Epperson averaged 44.8 yards on 54 punts as a junior, an average that currently ranks sixth nationally, and placed 13 punts inside the 20-yard-line. He kicked 14 punts of 50 yards or more. Epperson, an honorable mention all-conference selection by the coaches in 2008, was named a mid-season All-American by CBSsports.com and projected a preseason All-American by Lindy's, Rivals.com and Sporting News.
Lake is a three-time All-Big 12 honoree by the coaches (first-team in '08, second-team in '07) who finished his senior season with 91 tackles and three forced fumbles. His 7.6 tackles-per-game average ranks sixth in the conference and he finished his career with 324 tackles and six interceptions. Lake is rated the No. 5 NFL Draft prospect at safety among the nation's seniors by ESPN's Mel Kiper.
Pawelek, who earned his fourth coaches All-Big 12 honor (first-team honoree as junior, second-team as freshman and honorable mention as sophomore), led the team with 109 tackles (9.1 average ranks second in the Big 12) and added 2.5 sacks and an interception. The two-time Academic All-American and 2008 All-American finished his stellar career with 422 tackles, 18th-most in NCAA history (since 2000) and nine interceptions. He also tied the school record with 45 career starts at Baylor.
Walton, a first-time honoree by the league's coaches, is rated the No. 1 NFL Draft prospect at the center position among seniors by ESPN's Mel Kiper. He recorded 112 knockdowns in 12 games this season (9.3 per game) and earned a coach's grade of 90 percent or higher in 9 of 12 games. Walton started 36 consecutive games for the Bears and is a candidate for the Rimington Trophy honoring the nation's top center.
Akers, a fifth-year senior, earned his first all-conference honor after catching 27 passes for 249 yards and one touchdown in 2009. He averaged 9.2 yards per reception.
Gettis, a senior and former track athlete, earned his first Big 12 honor. He totaled 52 receptions, 675 yards and three touchdowns. His 4.3 catches-per-game ranks 13th in the league. Gettis caught six passes of 40 or more yards this season and his 13.0 average-per-reception led the team.
Lamb is a two-time coaches All-Big 12 honoree (honorable mention as sophomore in 2007). He finished his senior season with 32 tackles and led the team with three sacks (-29 yards) and seven tackles-for-loss (-38 yards). A four-time Academic All-Big 12 honoree, Lamb also blocked two field goals on the season.
Wright earned his first All-Big 12 honor as a sophomore after recording a team-high 66 receptions (third-highest single-season total in school history) and 740 yards with four touchdowns (all team highs). His 5.5 catches-per-game ranks seventh in the league and 35th nationally. Wright totaled three 100-yard receiving games in 2009 and extended his reception streak to 24 games, every game of his career.
BAYLOR ALL-BIG 12 HONOREES
Justin Akers, TE, honorable mention
Derek Epperson, P, first team
David Gettis, WR, honorable mention
Jordan Lake, S, second team
Jason Lamb, DL, honorable mention
Joe Pawelek, LB, second team
J.D. Walton, OL, second team (honorable mention for offensive lineman of the year)
Kendall Wright, WR, honorable mention