2 Football Academic All-Americans

Matt Walters

Two University of Miami defensive starters - senior tackle Matt Walters and middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma - have been named to the Verizon Academic All-America First Team, the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) announced Monday.

Vilma (Coral Gables, Fla., Coral Gables HS) is a two-time BIG EAST All-Academic Team honoree and was named the the Provost's Honor Roll in 2001 and 2002. Vilma, who leads the Hurricanes in tackles with 87 through nine games this season, also is a semi-finalist for the Butkus Award (college football's outstanding linebacker) and has started at middle linebacker for UM the last two seasons. Vilma also has earned several academic honors at UM including: Dean's List (2000, 2001 & 2002), Arthur Ashe Scholar Athlete (2001 & 2002), and the Athletic Director's Honor Roll (2000, 2001 & 2002).

On the field, he also was a Freshman All-American by Rivals.com in 2000, led UM in tackles in 2001 and was a first-team All-BIG EAST selection in 2001. Vilma is studying finance at UM.

Walters (Melbourne, Fla., Eau Gallie HS) is a 2002 National Football Foundation Scholar Athlete Award nominee who led all UM defensive linemen in tackles in 2001 with 66 and (through 9 games this year) is leading UM's talented and deep D-Line again this season with 48 stops (21 solos). He also has five tackles for losses, three quarterback sacks, has broken up three passes and has 19 quarterback hurries. He has achieved numerous academic honors at UM including: Provost's Honor Roll (1999 & 2001); Dean's List (1999, 2001, 2002); and the Athletic Director's Honor Roll (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002). Walters came to Miami in 1998 and, after redshirting in '98, has become a mainstay in the defensive line starting every game since the midway point of the 2000 season (24 games and counting). He was named to the Preseason Watch List for the 2002 Lombardi Award and the 2002 Outland Trophy. He also earned Miami's Team Leadership Award in 2001 from the UM football coaching staff and is a three-time BIG EAST All-Academic Team honoree. Walters is studying mechanical engineering and is on track to complete a bachelor's/master's double degree program in May of 2003.

Eight UM football players who graduated in May are playing for UM this season - punter Freddie Capshaw (finance/marketing), offensive lineman Joe Fantigrassi (liberal arts), defensive end Jamaal Green (criminology), offensive guard Sherko Haji-Rasouli (finance), center Brett Romberg (management), receiver Ethenic Sands (liberal arts), defensive back James Scott (liberal arts), and offensive guard Ed Wilkins (liberal arts). All eight received their bachelor's degrees in May, 2002.

Five more student-athletes are on track to graduate in December - linebacker Howard Clark (history), quarterback Ken Dorsey (business management/marketing), defensive end Cornelius Green (criminology), defensive tackle William Joseph (liberal arts) and placekicker Todd Sievers (management). Two student-athletes - defensive tackle Matt Walters (mechanical engineering) and lineman Jim Wilson (bio-medical engineering) - are on track to complete a bachelor's/master's double degree program in May of 2003.

This continues Miami's tradition of achieving a high graduation rate among its football student-athletes. Miami has received recognition by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) as one of an elite group of schools to have exceeded a 70 percent graduation rate among its football student-athletes in eight of the past 11 years. The Hurricanes' have exceeded the national graduation rate for AFCA member schools for 15 consecutive years. From 1992-97, Miami was one of only eight schools in the nation to graduate at least 70 percent of its football student-athletes and that trend continues to the present day. Thirteen of 18 Miami football student-athletes who entered UM in 1996 have graduated, a rate of 72.2 percent - exceeding the national average of 2001 (59 percent). Since the AFCA began its national survey of graduation rates for football playing institutions, Miami has graduated 71.29 percent of its football student-athletes - far above the national average.

Ten members of Miami's 2001 National Championship team earned spots on the BIG EAST All-Academic Team - the most any team can qualify for the honor. The 2001 season marked the fourth straight year that Miami placed the league maximum on the All-Academic Team.

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