Hardy, Middleton, Starr earn All-America honors

I’m a little slow providing this news today because we’ve been busy covering the Darius Willis announcement, but this is another reason for it being a big day for the Hoosier football team. It’s the first time IU has had three All-Americans since 1987 and the first time any Hoosiers has been named an All-American since Antwaan Randle El in 2001.

Here’s the complete news release from IU:

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Junior kicker Austin Starr, sophomore defensive end Greg Middleton and junior wide receiver James Hardy of the Indiana football team picked up All-America nods from the Associated Press and SI.com, the publications announced today. Additionally, the three players joined quarterback Kellen Lewis on ESPN.com's All-Big Ten team.

Starr was a first team selection on SI.com's team and second team according to the AP. Middleton picked up second team honors from SI.com and third team laurels from the AP. Hardy collected honorable mention status from SI.com and third team recognition from AP voters.

The three All-America selections are Indiana's first since Antwaan Randle El was honored in 2001. Indiana last had three All-America choices in 1987, when Ernie Jones, Pete Stoyanovich and Van Waiters each picked up the recognition.

Starr, a finalist for the Lou Groza Award, gave the Hoosiers their first victory in the Old Oaken Bucket Game since 2001 when he connected on the game-winning field goal from 49 yards out with 30 seconds remaining. The kick gave Indiana a 27-24 victory and sent the crowd of 50,741 fans - the first sellout at Memorial Stadium for the Bucket Game since 1989 - into a frenzy. Starr also added a 42-yarder in the second quarter and hit all three of his extra-point attempts.

The Logansport, Ind., native matched his career long, picked up the third game-winning kick of his career and his first of the season. He finished the game hitting two field goals to set a new school record with his 19th field goal of the season, topping former NFL great Pete Stoyanovich's 17 in 1988. He also extended his school record by making his 15th attempt in a row in the first half before missing a 42-yarder in the fourth quarter.

Middleton, who was selected as a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award, also picked up All-America distinction from The Sporting News, CBSSports.com and Rivals.com. He became the first IU
defensive lineman since Adewale Ogunleye in 1997 to earn first team All-Big Ten honors. With his 2.5 sacks against Purdue on November 17, Middleton set a new single-season school record with 16 and currently leads the nation. He eclipsed the previous mark of 14 set by Van Waiters back in 1987. The total also tied for fourth place in a Big Ten single season.

A first team All-Big Ten selection, Rivals.com All-American, Biletnikoff Award semifinalist and the team's most valuable player, Hardy shattered career and single-season receiving marks in 2007. Hardy is the Hoosiers' all-time receiving leader in touchdowns (36), yards (2,690) and receptions (186). He is the only wide receiver in Indiana history to surpass 2,500 career yards, 175 career receptions and 35 career touchdowns.

The Fort Wayne, Ind., native completed the 2007 regular season with 1,075 yards, 16 touchdowns (second nationally), 74 receptions, 89.6 yards per game and 14.5 yards per grab. Hardy set new single-season school records in touchdowns and receptions while finishing second in yards and becoming just the fourth Hoosier to reach the 1,000-yard mark. He caught a TD in 11 of 12 games, which is a school record, and finished tied for third on the Big Ten's single-season list with his 16 TDs.

Lewis, a second team All-Big Ten honoree and first team Rivals.com All-Big Ten selection, threw for 216 yards against Purdue to set a new school record with 2,839 yards passing on the year. He also moved into second place on IU's single-season attempts list with 399. The Jacksonville, Fla., native furthered his school record in total offense, advancing to 3,492 yards this year. That total is the 11th highest in Big Ten history. Lewis set single-season records in passing touchdowns (26), total touchdowns by a
quarterback (34) and completions (243) as well.

He is also moving up the career charts this season. Lewis joined Antwaan Randle El (1998-01) as the only quarterbacks in school history with 5,000 career passing yards (5,060 - fifth all-time), 400 career completions (433 - third), 700 career attempts (745 - fourth), 40 career passing touchdowns (40 - second) and 6,000 career total yards of offense (6,154 - fourth).