PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - Western Illinois redshirt-freshman linebacker J.J. Raffelson (Lake Zurich/Lake Zurich) was named a finalist for the Jerry Rice Award. The Sports Network announced the finalists on Monday (Nov. 19) for the nation's top freshman.
The Rice Award, in its second year, is named for legendary wide receiver Jerry Rice, who was a two-time first-team All-American in the FCS (then Division I-AA) at Mississippi Valley State. The award will be voted on by a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries this week, and presented at the FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation on Dec. 17 in Philadelphia.
He is one of 20 on the final ballot, and one of three representing the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
Raffelson became the first Leatherneck freshman in the Division I era to lead the team in tackles, finishing with 105. He started all 11 games at middle linebacker, and tallied 18 more tackles than the next closest Leatherneck. His 105 tackles (9.55 p/g) were the third-most by a freshman in all of NCAA Division I FCS, and tied for 32nd overall nationally.
Five times during the season Raffelson finished with 10-plus tackles, including a season-high 13 on three occasions - Illinois State, Indiana State and Youngstown State. He also recorded 12 versus Indianapolis and 11 against Northern Iowa.