Penn State's Jordan Hill, Sam Ficken honored by Big Ten

Penn State kicker Sam Ficken. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

It was a fitting finish for each player -- for two entirely separate reasons.

In the final week of the Big Ten season, senior defensive tackle Jordan Hill was named the conference's Defensive Player of the Week while sophomore kicker Sam Ficken was named the Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week.

For Hill, the honor solidifies a standout senior campaign. The 6-foot-1, 292-pound NFL prospect tallied a career-high 12 tackles in Penn State's overtime finale against Wisconsin. With linebacker Mike Mauti sidelined with a knee injury, Hill was a defensive sparkplug when the Nittany Lions needed it most - eight of Hill's tackles came in the fourth quarter or overtime.

For Ficken, the honor caps off a whirlwind season with a sense of validation. For the better part of this fall, the 19-year-old was the scapegoat for Penn State's early season struggles, including his 1-for-5 performance in the one-point loss against Virginia. Ficken began the season 2-for-8.

But the sophomore -- with the help of new mentor Robbie Gould, a former PSU star and NFL standout -- steadly got better. Gould helped Ficken with his technique. Ficken's tight circle of family and friends helped him with his psyche. And before you could say "Fickened," the Indiana native finished the season with a 10-straight field goals.

Against the Badgers, Ficken was 3-for-3 on field goals, including a 37-yarder in overtime to seal an emotional finale.

-Emily Kaplan

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