BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – Bridgewater State University senior defensive tackle Paul Melicharek has been selected as the defensive recipient of the 17th Annual Joe Zabilski Award presented by the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston.
Melicharek will be presented with the award at the annual Bob Whelan College Football Awards Night on Thursday, January 10th at the Westin Hotel in Waltham, Massachusetts.
Named in honor of former Gridiron Club President and coach of Northeastern University, Joe Zabilski (Boston College ’43), the award is given annually to New England’s best collegiate football players in Division II and III. Middlebury College quarterback McCallum Foote and Framingham State running back Melikke Van Alstyne are this year’s co-offensive recipients.
Among the top defensive linemen in Bridgewater State football history, Melicharek wrapped up an outstanding four-year career at Bridgewater State as he was also named to the 2012 D3football.com All-East Region Third Team, and was chosen as an Honorable Mention selection on the 2012 Beyond Sports Network Division III All-America Team.
A three-time New England Football Conference (NEFC) All-Bogan Division First Team selection, Melicharek racked up 47 tackles (38 solo), 18 tackles for loss, 6 ½ sacks and a forced fumble to lead the Bears to a 9-2 season in 2012 and their first appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament in 12 years. The Glen Rock, New Jersey native ranked 30th in all of Division III in tackles for loss.
A major cog in an outstanding BSU defense, Melicharek helped the Bears finish the season ranked tenth in all of Division III in total defense (266.91 ypg), 27th in rush defense (101.82 ypg), 31st in pass defense (165.09 ypg), 34th in scoring defense (17.73 ppg) and 39th in defensive pass efficiency (108.69 rating).
Melicharek started and played in all 41 games since arriving at Bridgewater State as a freshman in 2009. He amassed 170 tackles (133 solo) with 45 for loss and 10 ½ sacks in his four seasons with the Bears to go along with five forced fumbles.
Earlier this month, Melicharek played in a pair of college all-star games, the Aztec Bowl in Monterrey, Mexico and the All-American Bowl in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was the first player in Bridgewater State football history to compete in the All American Bowl, and the Bears' first representative at the Aztec Bowl since former standout running back Brendan Kavey in 2005.