After winning a conference game for the first time in three seasons behind a strong defensive effort, Rutgers linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi was named Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week on Monday. He shared the honors with Jamar Johnson of Indiana.
On Tuesday, Fatukasi was also named the Bednarik Award National Player of the Week, which is given weekly for the nation’s most outstanding defensive performance.
Fatukasi was a key factor in the Scarlet Knights forcing seven takeaways and holding Michigan State to just 50 yards rushing. He finished with 10 tackles, one for a loss, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble. Fatukasi also made the key fourth down stop along with Michael Dwumfour late in the third quarter that changed momentum of the game.
The seven takeaways is the most Rutgers defense has produced since 2000 and the rushing yards allowed was the fewest in any Big Ten game they’ve played.
Fatukasi is the first Rutgers player with two fumble recoveries in one game since Lorenzo Waters in the 2014 Quick Lane Bowl against North Carolina. He also became the first player with two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble in the same game since Deway Thompson in 2000 against Pitt, which was also the last time Rutgers had seven takeaways.
This is the first time a Rutgers player earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors since Johnathan Aiken in 2014 during the inaugural season in the league.