Sept. 18, 2001
WACO, Tex. - UA senior defensive end Eli Wnek, who has yet to play this year due to a foot injury, has used his off-field excellence to earn a spot on the American Football Coaches Association's "Good Works Team."
Wnek, a graduate student who earned a degree in May and is a returning first-team All-Pacific-10 Academic selection, joined 10 other players from around the country cited for their community service. The AFCA also picked 11 student-athletes from Divisions I-AA, II and NAIA.
Wnek, from Glendale, Ariz., has been active in VisionQuest, a mentoring program for delinquent youth, the One-on-One Partners for area youth, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes summer camp and a participant in various projects of the UA's Commitment to Athletes Total Success (CATS) program. He was vice president of the school's Student-Athlete Advisory Board last year as a senior.
A stress fracture on his right foot has kept Wnek, expected to be one of the Wildcats' key edge rushers on defense, out of action although he has consistently participated in as many team workouts as possible -- even while on crutches. A cast was removed a week ago and he is expected to miss as many as three more games before returning to action.
"Eli's the type of student-athlete who makes our jobs enjoyable," UA director of athletics Jim Livengood said. "His awareness of the world and the many important issues outside of college sports is superb. He's spent so many hours working with young children and giving back to the community. And he's a heck of a football player whose return to the playing field will be great for our team," he said.
Wnek, the only Pac-10 Conference player selected, gives the University of Arizona a second consecutive representative on the AFCA Good Works Team, following junior punter Chris Palic's selection in 2000. Georgie and Syracuse also had repeat selections while the University of St. Thomas (Minn.) had a fourth consecutive player earn the honor.
2001 AFCA Good Works Team (Division I-A)
Eli Wnek, Graduate, DE, Arizona - Coach John Mackovic
Brooks Bollinger, Jr., QB, Wisconsin - Coach Barry Alvarez
Rohan Davey, Sr., QB, Louisiana State - Coach Nick Saban
Nick Eason, Sr., DT, Clemson - Coach Tommy Bowden
Joaquin Gonzalesz, Sr., OT, Miami - Coach Larry Coker
Patrick Kabongo, So., DT, Nebraska - Coach Frank Solich
Graham Manley, Sr., TE, Syracuse - Coach Paul Pasqualoni
Chris Porter, Sr., RB, UTEP - Coach Gary Nord
Charles Robinson, Sr., FS, Colorado - Coach Gary Barnett
John Richardson, Sr., OG, Boston College - Coach Tom O'Brien
John Stinchcomb, Jr., OT, Georgia - Coach Mark Richt