Northwestern linebacker Paddy Fisher was named the Big Ten Defensive Freshman of the Year by the Big Ten Network on Monday.
Fisher emerging as a star in his redshirt freshman season was one of the most fun, surprising elements of Northwestern’s 2017 season. The Katy, Texas native finished fourth in the conference with 110 tackles and tied for first with 4 forced fumbles. Fisher added 8 tackles for loss, 1 interception and 1 fumble recovery.
He was a stud all year long, but his best performance was a 19-tackle, do-it-all effort against Michigan State that earned him Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. The presence of Fisher and fellow standout linebacker Nate Hall coming into next season is one of the main reasons to be optimistic about Northwestern.
Two other Wildcats made BTN’s All-Freshman Team. Samdup Miller, a true freshman who started every game at defensive end, joins Fisher on the defensive team. The younger Miller brother recorded 5.5 sacks, 4 quarterback hurries, 32 tackles and a fumble recovery in a stellar debut season.
True freshman right tackle Rashawn Slater made BTN’s All-Freshman offense. Northwestern rotated a couple players at that spot early on, but it didn’t take long for Slater to earn the job and remain there for the rest of the year. He seemed to improve as the season went along.
Kicker Charlie Kuhbander, another true freshman, was questionably not named as the All-Freshman team’s kicker. That spot went to Michigan State’s Matt Coghlin, even though Coghlin hit just 78 percent (15 of 19) of his field goals, compared to Kuhbander’s 85 percent (12 of 14). Kuhbander, who went 40 of 41 on PATs with the only miss being a block in poor conditions vs. Minnesota, was named as an honorable mention.