THE FEW, THE PROUD. The Touchdown Club honors Jake Coffman, Marine reservist, retired Northern Illinois defensive end.
"I heard Jake's story and it made him an easy choice to be our Male Athlete of the Year," said Touchdown Club President Curt Boster. "We deal a lot with the five-star guys and the blue-chippers, and we hear about their trials and tribulations, the things they deal with. To even compare anything in college football to Jake's story... The fact that he had a great season on the field this year put a capper on the story. It's a great story, made greater by what he did on the field and what he meant to the Northern Illinois team. That, and the passion he has for the game, is what made him our choice for this award."
Mr Coffman will be completing his degree this May.

When recounting his journey from high school through 2009, Coffman revealed the sentiments that made him the choice for the Male Athlete of the Year honor.

"Eight years ago when I joined the Marines, if you'd have told me I was going to receive an award like this, I'd have laughed in your face," he said. "I came back to play because I missed it and I loved it, not because I thought I was going to get any kind of recognition. I played because I loved it and got rewarded for sticking with it."

Despite having one more season of eligibility, the now 26-year old Coffman, who will graduate from Northern Illinois this spring with a degree in sociology, decided to make the 2009 season his last.

"I'm proud of the team and what we accomplished this year," Coffman said. "I'm proud of my teammates. I had a great time playing with the guys, seeing them grow up and perform the way they did this year. I put a lot of thought into the decision [to retire] and told my family and the coaches. This award really caps it off."

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