ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF)–Zeke Vandenburgh’s final season as a linebacker at Illinois State University couldn’t have gone any better individually. Yea, the Redbirds finished with the record of only 6-5, but Vandenburgh was a major force on the field.

Monday he was named the Missouri Valley Football Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year by the coaches, media and sports information directors.

Vandenburgh led the conference with 14 sacks and with 21 tackles for loss. He finished third in the conference in total tackles with 100. His 14 sacks also ranked first in the nation in FCS. Four times this season he was named the MVFC Defensive Player of the Week. His biggest game came against Western Illinois when he had 17 tackles, 3.5 sacks and four tackles for loss.

Vandenburgh is also up for the Buck Buchanan Award which goes to the top defensive player in the nation for FCS. He is one of 30 finalists. That award winner will be announced in early January.

In high school at Freeport Vandenburgh was a three-year letter winner for the Pretzels. His senior year he was first team All-NIC-10, and he was Freeport’s MVP.