3 Hurricanes Earn Verizon Academic All-District Honors

Nov. 14, 2002

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (www.hurricanesports.com) – Three University of Miami football student-athletes – junior middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma, senior defensive tackle Matt Walters, and redshirt freshman cornerback Kelly Jennings -were named Thursday to the 2002 Verizon University Division Academic All-District III football team in a vote of the College Sports Information Directors of America.

Vilma and Walters earned first-team honors while Jennings was a second-team selection.

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.

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.

Jennings (Live Oak, Fla., Suwanee HS) is in his first season as a starting cornerback for Miami after redshirting in 2001. He has one interception this season, has 20 tackles, has three quarterback hurries, and has broken up six passes thus far. Jennings was a member of the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll in 2002, was a 2001-02 Arthur Ashe Scholar Athlete nominee. Jennings is studying finance at UM.

The University of Georgia and Furman University each had three first team selections to lead the representatives for the 2002 Verizon University Division Academic All-District III football team. Wake Forest University, Georgia Tech, the University of Miami, Wofford College and Duke University each had two players selected to the first team.

District III is made up of all Division I and I-AA schools in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. To be eligible a player must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.2 in the classroom and be a starter or key reserve on the field. The players selected are now eligible for the national Academic All-America team, which will be announced on December 2nd.