Dec. 7, 2005
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Eighteen Michigan State football players have been named to the 2005 Academic All-Big Ten Team: junior defensive back Kiel Beltinck, red-shirt freshman kicker Todd Boleski, senior wide receiver Kyle Brown, junior snapper Brian Bury, sophomore offensive guard Pete Clifford, sophomore safety Cole Corey, red-shirt freshman wide receiver Deon Curry, red-shirt freshman safety Tom Dance, junior punter Brandon Fields, red-shirt sophomore running back Brett Kahn, red-shirt freshman defensive end Justin Kershaw, sophomore cornerback Travis Key, senior center Chris Morris, red-shirt freshman defensive back Jelani Nantambu, senior offensive guard Gordon Niebylski, senior safety Eric Smith, junior quarterback Drew Stanton and sophomore linebacker Kaleb Thornhill. The 18 academic all-conference selections equal the most by any Big Ten institution on this year's honor roll, tying Indiana, Ohio State and Penn State. It also marks the most Spartans ever recognized on the Academic All-Big Ten Football Team, surpassing the previous high of 13 selections in 2004.
"Finally, our guys understand that the reason they are here is to receive an education," Spartan head coach John L. Smith said. "They have taken that message to heart. The players know that if they don't take care of business in the classroom, then they jeopardize their own playing time.
"We're proud to have 18 players represented on the Academic All-Big Ten Team. They have set a standard of excellence in the classroom, and I'm a firm believer that program excellence begins in the classroom. If the players don't win in the classroom, they won't win on the field. We're seeing positive results in the classroom, so now, we expect similar results on the playing field."
"Coach Smith has created an academic culture that embraces and rewards academic achievement," MSU Associate Athletics Director and Director of Student-Athlete Support Services Jim Pignataro said. "His constant reiteration of academic responsibility permeates his program, and therefore, you see his student-athletes buying into that mind-set. He and these 18 student-athletes are to be commended for setting an example of how to balance the rigors of academics and athletics."
Michigan State's list of honorees includes 10 multi-year selections. Morris and Niebylski have been named to the Academic All-Big Ten team for the fourth-straight year. Brown, Fields and Stanton are featured on the Academic All-Big Ten team for the third year in a row, while Beltinck, Clifford, Corey, Smith and Thornhill made the honor roll for the second time.
In three seasons under Coach Smith, 41 student-athletes have been named Academic All-Big Ten, the highest three-year total in football program history.
To be eligible for the Academic All-Big Ten Team, a student-athlete must be a letterwinner in his second academic year and carry at least a 3.0 cumulative grade-point average (on a 4.0 scale).
2005 Academic All-Big Ten Team
Name (Position/Class*) Hometown Major (GPA)
Kiel Beltinck (DB/Jr.) Mount Pleasant, Mich. human biology (3.71)
Todd Boleski (K/R-Fr.) Dearborn Heights, Mich. general business administration - pre-law (3.2)
Kyle Brown (WR/Sr.) West Bloomfield, Mich. interdisciplinary studies in social science -
human resources & society (3.06)
Brian Bury (SN/Jr.) Marion, Ohio food industry management (3.5)
Pete Clifford (OG/So.) Salem, N.H. interdisciplinary studies in social science -
human resources & society (3.24)
Cole Corey (S/So.) Tecumseh, Mich. general management (3.1)
Deon Curry (WR/R-Fr.) Oakland Township, Mich. no-preference (3.13)
Tom Dance (S/R-Fr.) Erie, Pa. general business administration - pre-law (3.2)
Brandon Fields (P/Jr.) Toledo, Ohio kinesiology (3.4)
Brett Kahn (RB, R-So.) Trenton, Mich. kinesiology (3.14)
Justin Kershaw (DE/R-Fr.) Columbus, Ohio no-preference (3.1)
Travis Key (CB/So.) Three Rivers, Mich. packaging (3.18)
Chris Morris (C/Sr.) Lambertville, Mich. finance (3.5)
Jelani Nantambu (DB/R-Fr.) Southfield, Mich. marketing (3.64)
Gordon Niebylski (OG/Sr.) Farmington, Mich. supply chain management (3.53)
Eric Smith (S/Sr.) Groveport, Ohio criminal justice (3.21)
Drew Stanton (QB/Jr.) Farmington Hills, Mich. kinesiology (3.37)
Kaleb Thornhill (LB/So.) Lansing, Mich. interdisciplinary studies in social science -
human resources & society (3.21)
*Class listed according to athletic eligibility.