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Just one day after being named the Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Year for the second straight season, WKU running back Bobby Rainey was named to the prestigious Walter Camp Football Foundation's All-America team on Thursday night. Rainey joined Heisman Trophy finalist Montee Ball of Wisconsin on the All-America second team. Oregon's LaMichael James - the nation's leading rusher each of the past two seasons - and Heisman finalist Trent Richardson of Alabama, earned first-team honors.
"I am very appreciative of this honor," Rainey said. "None of this would have been possible without my offensive line, the rest of my teammates, Coach Taggart, and our coaching staff. A lot of people had to do their jobs in order for me to have the statistics I had.
"I am very thankful for the opportunities I had at WKU, and I am very proud of all that our football team accomplished this season. I feel our senior class has left everything in very good shape for the next wave of Hilltoppers, and I have no doubt the best days for WKU football lie ahead. To win seven of our last eight games and receive this honor tonight, and then to graduate next week, really helps to end my time and career at WKU in a very positive way."
The Walter Camp Foundation announced their 2011 team during the Home Depot College Football Awards Show on ESPN.
The Walter Camp Football Foundation first began announcing All-American teams in 1889. When determining consensus All-Americans, the NCAA only recognizes the All-America teams selected by the Associated Press, the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), the Sporting News, and the Walter Camp Football Foundation.
The WCFF All-American team is selected by the head coaches and sports information directors of the 120 Football Bowl Subdivision schools.
Rainey is now a two-time All American. He earned honorable mention honors from SI.com in 2010.
The Griffin, Ga., native ranks second nationally averaging 141.2 yards per game rushing in 2011, and his 369 carries on the year are the most in the nation for the second straight season. He rushed for a school record 1,695 yards in 2011, and surpassed Lerron Moore to become WKU's career rushing leader, ending his four years on the Hill with 4,542 yards on the ground.
Rainey eclipsed 100 yards in 10 of 12 games this season, including three 200-yard games. He closed out the season strong with 214 yards against North Texas and a season-high 227 against Troy on senior day - both Hilltopper victories. Rainey also leads the Sun Belt in scoring, and had multiple rushing touchdowns four times - including three-TD games against both Louisiana-Lafayette and Troy.
In addition to his ground attack, Rainey also caught 36 passes for 361 yards and four touchdowns and completed two pass attempts, including one for a touchdown. His 171.3 all-purpose yards per game were also a league best in 2011 and rank fifth nationally. Rainey is one of just eight players since 2000 to rush for 1,500 yards in back-to-back seasons, and is one of just seven players this year to run, throw and catch a touchdown in 2011.
Though it is the first time it has happened since WKU became a member of the Football Bowl Subdivision, Rainey is not the first Hilltopper in history to earn WCFF All-America honors. In fact, 10 Hilltoppers were named to the I-AA team over an 18-year stretch. James Edwards was the first WKU player to earn Camp Foundation honors back in 1987, and Buster Ashley was the last named to the team in 2004.
A three-time all-Sun Belt selection, Rainey helped lead a remarkable turnaround for the Hilltoppers in 2011. After starting the season 0-4, WKU closed the year by winning seven of its last eight games and a second place conference finish, with the only loss coming at top-ranked LSU. WKU's 7-1 conference record following a 2-6 league slate in 2010 marked the biggest one-season improvement in conference wins in Sun Belt Conference history.
The late-season surge also helped WKU become bowl eligible for the first time since becoming a full-fledged Football Bowl Subdivision member in 2009. Nine WKU players earned all-conference honors, and all 12 seniors are scheduled to graduate this year.