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Toledo's Church gets national recognition

| Sunday, Sept. 27, 2009

Nothing has come easy for Toledo senior safety Barry Church.

He just learned to work a little harder.

It paid off this preseason, when Church was named a third-team All-American by college football analyst Phil Steele.

"It's hard to reach All-American level coming from the MAC," Church said. "To be an All-American out of the MAC, you have to go above and beyond all expectations anyone has for you. You have to be astounding to be acknowledged."

Church hopes to maintain his All-American status at the season's end. It's one of the many goals he's set throughout his collegiate career.

"I kind of shocked myself with a couple of my accomplishments," Church said. "I was determined to play as a freshman, and I'm reaching all of my goals. My last goal is to make it to the NFL."

Church has earned first team All-MAC honors the past three seasons and could become just the second player in Toledo history to earn the accolade all four years. He is also a candidate for Jim Thorpe Award — given to the nation's top defensive back — and the Bronco Nagurski Award, which is given to the nation's top defensive player.

Church's individual accomplishments have led to a few team highlights. Defeating Michigan, 13-10, last season at the Big House was a thrill for Church. The Rockets came up with another big win in Week 2 this season, when Toledo upset Colorado, 54-38.

"It was just making a statement to a lot of people that we might be in the so-called smaller division," Church said, "but we can play with anybody in the country."

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