(WIBW) - Corey Ballentine continued to make Washburn history on Monday.
The former Ichabod defensive back won the Cliff Harris Award, which goes to the nation's top small college defensive player from the ranks of NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III and NAIA. He is the first player in program history to achieve this honor.
"First and foremost I would like to thank God for the abilities he gave me," Ballentine said in a release. "I'd like to thank my mom, dad and sister for supporting me in everything I do and always having my back. I would also like to thank my teammates and coaches for believing in me and helping me raise the standard for myself.
"Winning this award is a great honor for me and to be recognized as one of the best in my division is exciting."
It continues a year of history for Balletine. The Topeka native was the first Ichabod since 2011 to be named an All-American by the American Football Coaches Association. In January, the Shawnee Heights alumnus will become the first Washburn representative to ever participate in the Senior Bowl.
"When I play the game, I play to have fun and have no regrets," Ballentine said. "I genuinely enjoy making plays, hitting hard and being on the field with my teammates who have pushed through adversity alongside me. I try not to worry to much about accolades or things I can't control, but it is a good feeling when people notice the work that you put in and it lets me know that I'm going in the right direction."
"Corey is an extremely gifted student athlete who excelled at WU and will also excel in the NFL," Washburn head football coach Craig Schurig said in a release. "Corey is a great representative of such an award. He plays the game like Cliff Harris played it."
This past season, the defensive back racked up 50 tackles, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and three blocked kicks.