Redbirds continue to fly in polls; Leatherneck receiver wins national award

Redbirds continue to fly in polls; Leatherneck receiver wins national award
Western Illinois wide receiver Jaelon Acklin was honored as the STATS FCS national player of the week. (photo courtesy of goleathernecks.com)

Unbeaten Illinois State continues to move up the national rankings, while a Western Illinois receiver was chosen as national player of the week.

National polls

Brock Spack's ISU Redbirds (4-0) rank seventh in this week's FCS Coaches poll. Illinois State, which is 2-0 in Missouri Valley Football Conference games, is No. 11 in the STATS FCS poll.

Charlie Fisher's WIU Leathernecks (3-1) are 15th in the STATS rankings and 18th in the Coaches Poll.

Kim Dameron's Eastern Illinois Panthers (3-2) is the 11th team also receiving votes (No. 36 ranked) in the FCS Coaches Top 25 poll this week while landing as the 12th team also receiving votes (No. 37 ranked) in the STATS Media FCS Top 25 rankings.

National player of the week

Western Illinois wide receiver Jaelon Acklin was named the STATS FCS National Offensive Player of the Week.

17_acklinjaelon_700_4044_047A native of Mountain View, Mo., Acklin racked up program single-game records with 19 receptions for 343 yards on Saturday against South Dakota. The yardage set a Missouri Valley Football Conference record, and is the fourth-most of any player in a single-game in FCS history. Acklin's 19 catches tied for the 11th-most in a single game in FCS history.

The senior wideout also scored three touchdowns, one shy of matching a school record. Acklin's respective scores came from 11, 41 and 62 yards away, meaning, just on those three players alone, he netted 114 yards receiving.

In just the fourth quarter of Saturday's contest against South Dakota, Acklin registered 12 catches for 172 and two touchdowns. Twelve catches currently are the fifth-most in a single game in Western Illinois history. Acklin's 343 all-purpose yards were also the fourth-most in a single game in program history.

Conference players of the week

Acklin and WIU senior linebacker Brett Taylor were named the MVFC and co-Defensive Players of the Week, respectively, the league office announced. The weekly conference honor is the sixth of Taylor's career, including his second in a row, while Acklin earned his first such award. Acklin also earned CFPA FCS Honorable Mention National Performer of the Week.

Taylor matched NFL great Rodney Harrison's school-record (at Western Kentucky, 1993) with 28 tackles on Saturday against South Dakota. That figure ranks as the fifth-most in MVFC history. Taylor recorded 18 assisted tackles, the second-most in any game in program history

Eastern Illinois redshirt freshman quarterback Scotty Gilkey, Jr. was named the Ohio Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Week and Newcomer of the Week. Senior Nick Horne was named the OVC Defensive Player of the Week. 

Saturday's games

Illinois State at Northern Arizona

Southern Illinois at South Dakota State

Western Illinois at Northern Iowa

Tennessee Tech at Eastern Illinois

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