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Ziller Earns Trifecta--AFCA, Associated Press and All-American

December 20, 2008 at 8:36 am

NORTHFIELD, Minn. – Senior strong safety Drew Ziller (Byron, Minn./Rochester Lourdes) has been named to the American Football Coaches Association’s (AFCA) All-America Team, the All-America First Team and to the Associated Press (AP) Little All-America Third Team.

He joins wide receiver Jim Bradford (1990) as the only Carleton players ever selected as All-Americans by the AFCA, which only releases a first team, and only the second Knight to earn AP Little All-America honors, and the first in 69 years. Ziller was the only MIAC defensive player on the First Team or the AFCA squad, and the only MIAC player named to the Associated Press Little All-America Team. Overall, he was one of only 10 Division III players named to the AFCA All-America and All-America First Team. Eight of those 10 players earned spots on the AP Little All-America squad, placing Ziller among the best of the best in Division III Football in 2008.

Ziller is one of four defensive backs selected to the prestigious AFCA All-American squad. He was not only the top safety in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC), but also one of the best at the position in the NCAA, regardless of division. He was one of five Minnesota college players on the AP squad, joining three players from Division II national champion University of Minnesota, Duluth, and from Winona State University. Ziller was the lone MIAC player on the AP Little All-America team, which recognizes the top players from NCAA Division II and III and NAIA. Dick Raiter '41 is the only other Carleton player ever named to the AP squad, as he earned honorable mention honors in 1939.

He led all NCAA Division I, II and III defensive backs by averaging 7.0 solo tackles per game, a figure that tied for fifth among all NCAA defensive players, including linebackers and defensive linemen. Ziller also tied for the Division III lead and second in the entire NCAA by forcing six fumbles during the season.

"Drew's about as good as they get--he's an incredibly intelligent player who played with passion and impacted every play he took part in," Carleton Head Coach Kurt Ramler said. "Drew took full advantage of the Carleton experience- he studied abroad, he excelled in the class-room, and he realized his potential on the field. Grass and helmets flew when Drew took the field, and this guy played football the right way, wreaking havoc like a defensive back should."

Accolades for Ziller actually began to arrive before the season even began. He was named to the preseason Division III All-America team by Lindy's College Football 2008 Preview. He would not disappoint and earned his second straight first-team All-MIAC distinction.

Ziller averaged 10.4 tackles per game overall, a total that ranked 10th among all NCAA defensive backs (tied for fifth in D-III) and tied for 76th among all players regardless of position (tied for 34th in D-III). For the second consecutive season, Ziller paced the MIAC in tackles during conference play. He also led all Division III players with 70 solo tackles during the regular season.

While Ziller excelled at bringing down the opposition’s ball carriers, receivers and quarterbacks, he was an all-around performer on the Knights’ defense. He recorded a team-best eight pass breakups, was second on the squad with 3.0 sacks and a trio of interceptions, and tied for third with 5.0 tackles for loss.

Ziller was also a factor on special teams, blocking a pair of kicks, including a crucial fourth-quarter punt that he returned 43 yards for a touchdown in the triumph over No. 22 Augsburg College on Oct. 11. Ziller then sealed that victory with an interception in the final minute.

He is the first Knights' defensive back to be named an All-American since Art Gilliland in 1992. Dick Raiter '41 is the only other Carleton football player named to the AP squad, as he earned honorable mention honors in 1939. That year, Raiter played all but six minutes, scored five touchdowns, passed for four more, did all the signal-calling, place-kicking and punting, and intercepted 11 passes from his safety position. Erik Fisher '03 earned All-America honorable mention honors in 2003 after rewriting the Carleton rushing record book.

2008 AFCA All-Americans

Associated Press Little All-America team (via Star Tribune's website) All-America Team