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Missouri’s Sam earns All-American honor

COLUMBIA —Michael Sam showed it all year long. Now the Missouri defensive end has the honor to back up that he’s among the best.

The senior has been named a Walter Camp Football Foundation First-Team All-American for his stellar play in 2013, it was announced Thursday. Sam becomes the 33rd first-team All-American in school history and the seventh under head coach Gary Pinkel. The honor marks the school’s first defensive selection since Justin Smith in 2000.

“Wow, what a great honor, I’m really grateful to be selected and for our team to be recognized like this,” Sam said in a release. “It’s been a really rewarding season, especially after what we went through a year ago, and I feel like this validates all of the hard work we put in and all of the sacrifices we made as a team. My name is on the award, but that wouldn’t happen without everyone else pulling in the same direction together, and I want to thank all of my teammates and coaches for helping push me and for their support.”

Sam led the Southeastern Conference in both quarterback sacks (10.5) and tackles for loss (18.0), ranking in the top-10 nationally in those categories. He was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press, and was also a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the Lombardi Award and the Hendricks Award. He has 45 tackles in 13 games this season, including nine quarterback pressures, two pass break ups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery, which he returned 21 yards for a touchdown in a win at seventh-ranked Georgia in October.

“We couldn’t be more proud of Michael,” Pinkel said. “He’s a walking example of a ‘never-say-quit’ attitude; he’s the kind of player you want others to emulate when they see him on film and how relentless he is. I also think the positive energy he brings to the team has been contagious, he’s helped others elevate their play this year, and that’s been really important for our team.”

The other six Missouri Tigers to earn first-team All-American distinction under Pinkel are tight end Martin Rucker (2007), all-purpose Jeremy Maclin (2007 and 2008), tight end Chase Coffman (2008), wide receiver Danario Alexander in (2009), kicker Grant Ressel (2009) and tight end Michael Egnew (2010).

III

Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team, the league announced Thursday.

Mauk went 3-1 as a starter in place of injured senior James Franklin. Mauk completed 66-of-129 passes for 1,039 yards, 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions while earning playing time in 12 games this season.

The redshirt freshman also ran for 156 yards and a touchdown in 38 carries.

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