Deja McClendon and David Taylor named Penn State Athletes of the Year
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – With the 2013-14 athletic season concluded, Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics has named wrestler David Taylor (St. Paris, Ohio) and women’s volleyball player Deja McClendon (Louisville, Ky.) as its Male and Female Athletes of the Year. McClendon and Taylor will be on the ballot for Big Ten Athletes of the Year. The honors are the latest in a long list of accolades for both student-athletes.
McClendon recently concluded a standout career at Penn State with her fourth consecutive American Volleyball Coaches Association All-America honor. With the accolade, she became just the fifth four-time All-American in Penn State history, joining former Nittany Lions Bonnie Bremner, Christa Harmotto, Nicole Fawcett and Megan Hodge in the elite group. The Louisville, Ky. native also earned four consecutive Big Ten postseason awards, earning a unanimous selection to the All-Big Ten team in 2013 as well as 2010 Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors.
During her time on the court, McClendon has made solid contributions in two NCAA national championship runs in 2010 and most recently in 2013. In 2010, the AVCA DI National Freshman of the Year was tabbed the NCAA Championship Most Outstanding Player. She followed the award with NCAA Championship All-Tournament team honors in 2013.
In four years at Penn State, she totaled 1,631 kills, 1,176 digs, 292 blocks and 62 aces. Notching her 1,000th career dig in mid-2013, McClendon eclipsed the 1,000 career kills/1,000 career digs mark, making her the first Nittany Lion to reach the mark since Megan Hodge in 2009 and the fifth in program history. Overall, her 1,631 kills ranks sixth on the Penn State all-time list, while her 1,176 digs ranks 11th.
Taylor becomes the second straight member of head coach Cael Sanderson’s Nittany Lion wrestlers to win Penn State Male Athlete of the Year as teammate Ed Ruth won last year’s honor. Taylor recently wrapped up one of collegiate wrestling’s most historic careers. He won the 2014 Hodge Trophy as the nation’s top wrestler and was Big Ten Wrestler of the Year for the third time. Taylor became Penn State’s first-ever four-time NCAA finalist and won his second NCAA individual title at 165, leading Penn State to its fourth-straight NCAA Championship in Oklahoma City in March.
Taylor’s 2014 accolades were stunning: Hodge Trophy Award (won twice during his career), NCAA National Champion (for the second time), NCAA Finalist (for the fourth time), NCAA All-American (for the fourth time), Big Ten Wrestler of the Year (for the third time), NCAA Most Dominant Wrestler Award, NCAA Championships Outstanding Wrestler, Big Ten Champion (Penn State’s first four-time Big Ten Champion, joining Ruth with that honor), three-time Big Ten Wrestler of the Week, Academic All-Big Ten (for the fourth time), NationalWrestling Coaches Association First Team All-Academic (for the fourth time), Capital One First Team Academic All-American.
His career numbers are a testament to Taylor’s dominance throughout a landmark collegiate wrestling career. He leaves Penn State as a member of four NCAA Championship teams and four Big Ten Championships teams. Taylor went 34-0 this season to end the year as the nation’s lone unbeaten Division I wrestler and closed out his career with a 134-3 record. His 97.8 career win percentage included an all-time Penn State best 53 pins (ties a school record), 42 technical falls and 30 majors, meaning 125 of his 137 career matches were won by a major or better. Taylor never lost in a dual meet and was a perfect 56-0 all-time against Big Ten competition.
McClendon and Taylor will be on the ballot for Big Ten Athletes of the Year with 22 other nominees. Selected members of the media who regularly cover each Big Ten institution will vote for the winners of the awards.
Penn State won NCAA Championships in fencing, wrestling and women’s volleyball this year, its most national titles since winning three in 1999-2000. Penn State student-athletes, who have an 88 percent graduation rate, won a school record-tying and conference-best eight Big Ten titles in 2013-14 and 16 over the past two years, easily topping second place Michigan (nine) in combined titles the last two years among all Big Ten institutions.
Penn State was No. 5 in the most recent Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings and is in position to earn its 10th Top 10 finish in the 21 years the Directors’ Cup has been in existence.