The nation’s leader in tackles for loss and quarterback sacks, Northern Illinois University sophomore defensive end Sutton Smith was named the Mid-American Conference West Division Defensive Player of the Week on Monday.
Smith led a dominating defensive performance by NIU in the Huskies’ 24-3 win over Kent State with three quarterback sacks for losses of 21 yards, four tackles for losses totaling 24 yards and a career high 10 tackles.
On the season, the St. Charles, Mo. (Francis Howell HS) product leads NIU, the MAC and the Football Bowl Subdivision with seven quarterback sacks (1.4/game) and 14.5 tackles for loss (2.9/game). Of his 28 tackles on the season, more than half (14.5) have been for loss. Smith came into the season with just 15 career tackles and one sack but has burst onto the scene in 2017 with sacks in four of the Huskies’ five games and at least one tackle for loss in every game.
He leads a NIU defense that is ranked in the Top 20 nationally in 11 defensive categories listed by the NCAA, including total defense (seventh), passing efficiency defense (third), rushing defense (16th), team tackles for loss (first) and scoring defense (18th).
Smith is the fourth Huskie to collect MAC West Player of the Week honors in 2017, and the second NIU defender honored. Linebacker Jawuan Johnson earned the defensive award following NIU’s win over Nebraska, while wide receiver Christian Blake and punter Matt Ference were named the offensive and special teams players of the week, respectively, following the San Diego State game.