It pays to be smart; ask Robert Morris star

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Robert Morris senior defensive lineman Nolan Nearhoof is a two-time first-team all-Northeast Conference selection and one of the best defensive players in Division I-AA.

The Colonials' all-time sack leader (22.5 and counting), is tied for the conference lead in sacks per game (just under 1) and is second on the team in tackles (49).

But Nearhoof is more than one of the best I-AA football players in the nation ,he also a top-notch student, and this week his excellence in the classroom was rewarded.

Nearhoof, from Mars, was selected as a National Scholar-Athlete by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.

He is just one of 15 football players from all NCAA and NAIA divisions to receive the honor and the only I-AA player to be selected.

Furthermore, he is the first player in Robert Morris history to be so honored.

"It's an incredible honor not only for Nolan but for the entire Robert Morris community and our athletic department," Colonials coach Joe Walton said.

"It's a tremendous distinction for our school to be included in such company. When I told Nolan about it, he was flattered to hear about the elite group he would be joining.

"It's a marvelous achievement."

And, while the recognition is nice, Nearhoof, who wants to become a physical therapist, also received an $18,000 scholarship to assist with his postgraduate studies.

"It's obviously a big achievement for our team and our school," Nearhoof said.

"It's great to be the first one from Robert Morris to earn this honor. The more and more that Coach Walton told me about it, the more I realized how neat of a group this is to be a part of."

Nearhoff, who will receive the award in December in New York at the National Football Foundation awards dinner, has a 3.74 cumulative GPA.

He is a biology major and has been the NEC's football scholar athlete of the year each of the past two seasons.

As a result of having a player win a National Scholar-Athlete award, Robert Morris will receive a $5,000 that will go to academic support services for the Colonials' student-athletes.

Ranked at last

One of the most impressive district teams this season has been Waynesburg, but the Yellow Jackets have had a hard time earning national recognition -- at least until this week when they were ranked No. 25 in the D3football.com poll.

Waynesburg (8-0) is off to its best start since 1966 and was previously ranked in the D3football.com in '04.

The Yellow Jackets are one of 11 ranked teams that are undefeated.

The '66 Waynesburg team that started 8-0 won the NAIA title.

It's a big one

Shippensburg (8-0, 5-0 PSAC East) and ranked No. 10 in NCAA Division II will face No. 4 Bloomsburg (8-0, 5-0) at Shippensburg's Seth Grove Stadium Saturday in what is one of the premier games of that level.

The winner will be the PSAC East champion and face California, IUP or Mercyhurst for the league title.

Shippensburg owns the Division II's top offense (565.63 yards per game), and the Huskies offense (502.63) is No. 4.

Freshman excels

Waynesburg went 2-0 in women's soccer last week, and a big reason was freshman goalkeeper Ciara Scott, who helped the Yellow Jackets beat Geneva and Washington & Jefferson to improve to 5-1-1 in the PAC.

Scott, who played at Carlynton, was especially good against the Presidents as she made five saves in a 1-0 shutout, her seventh this season.

She was named the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference South women's soccer player of the week.

Scott also is fourth in the PAC in goals-against average (1.16), has made 55 saves, has a save percentage of .733 and ranks second in shutouts.

IUP still king

IUP won the PSAC men's golf championship for the 25th time this past weekend at Hershey Links Course with an overall team score of 9-under par.

It was the sixth time in a row the Crimson Hawks have won the team title. California won the women's title by unseating Gannon, which finished second.

Rankings

Youngstown State, despite a three-game losing streak, remained in the top 25 as the Penguins were 21st in the Division I-AA coaches poll and 22nd in the Sports Network Poll.

California was ranked 13th in the coaches poll and 11th in the D2football.com poll while IUP is 16th in both Division II polls.

Waynesburg was ranked 23rd in the Division III coaches poll and 25th in the D3football.com poll.

sportscollegedistrict


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