Decker earns All-Big Ten honors

Despite missing the final four games of the season, the senior wide receiver garnered first team recognition from the coaches for the second consecutive year.

Gophers FB vs Purdue

Image by Matt Mead

Gophers FB vs Purdue

by Austin Cumblad

After MinnesotaâÄôs Oct. 17 game against Penn State, Nittany Lions head coach Joe Paterno was asked about Gophers senior wide receiver Eric Decker . âÄúBoy, he’s some player,âÄù Paterno said. This after Penn State had just limited Decker to one reception for 42 yards . Paterno met Decker after the game; it was a moment Decker remembers well. âÄúItâÄôs awesome; itâÄôs unbelievable,âÄù Decker said of the kind words Paterno had for him. âÄúI was kind of speechless, because you canâÄôt comprehend how many games heâÄôs seen, how much football heâÄôs watched and how much coaching heâÄôs done.âÄù A week later, in the first half against Ohio State, DeckerâÄôs season and college career ended on a sharp cut after a short reception. He tore the Lisfranc joint in his left foot between the big toe and second toe and underwent surgery a week and a half later. He missed the final four games of the regular season. But Decker had apparently already made enough of an impression on Paterno and other Big Ten coaches, who named him to the All-Big Ten first team Monday night for the second consecutive season . âÄúTo only really be able to play half the season and to still be honored with the best of the Big Ten âÄî especially from the coaches, who I have so much respect for âÄî IâÄôm definitely appreciative of the honor,âÄù he said. Decker was slowed late in the 2008 season as well by an ankle injury; he missed the entire Wisconsin game Nov. 15 but otherwise played through it. Even then, he broke MinnesotaâÄôs single-season record for receptions for the second straight year with 84 . In 2009, he was well on his way to another 1,000-yard season a year after becoming just the fourth receiver in GophersâÄô history to accomplish the feat . That fateful plant of the foot stopped him at 758 yards , but not before Decker set all-time marks for career receiving yards (3,119) and consecutive 100-yard games. In addition, heâÄôs tied with Tutu Atwell for most 100-yard games in a career, third in career touchdown receptions and ended his career with an active streak of 34 consecutive games with a reception, second only to Ron JohnsonâÄôs 46. Joining Decker on the coaches team were senior linebackers Lee Campbell and Simoni Lawrence and senior cornerback Traye Simmons, all of whom were honorable mention. On the mediaâÄôs list, Decker, Campbell, Simmons, senior tight end Nick Tow-Arnett and junior kicker Eric Ellestad all were honorable mention.