National Football Foundation Proudly Announces the 2012 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class
15 collegiate football student-athletes each win $18,000 postgraduate scholarships as part of the 54th NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class.
DALLAS, October 24, 2012 – Recognizing one of the most impressive classes in the storied history of the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards Program, The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame announced today the 2012 recipients of the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards, presented by Fidelity Investments®, a leading provider of not-for-profit workplace retirement savings plans in higher education.
Representing the MAC is Northern Illinois defensive tackle Nabal Jefferson, a 3.78 GPA in accounting. Jefferson, a native of Chicago, has collected 38 tackles, four and one-half tackles for loss and one sack as the Huskies have jumped to a 7-1 overall record, 4-0 in the MAC.
The honorees also comprise the list of finalists for the 2012 William V. Campbell Trophy, endowed by HealthSouth, which recognizes an individual as the absolute best scholarathlete in the nation. Selected from a nationwide pool of 147 exceptional semifinalists from among all NCAA divisions and the NAIA, the 15 class members are:
MATT BARKLEY, QB, Southern California, 3.21, Communications
REX BURKHEAD, RB, Nebraska, 3.43, History
CODY DAVIS, S, Texas Tech, 3.70, Management Info. Systems
NICK DRISKILL, S, Mount Union (Ohio), 3.77, Exercise Science
NICK FLORENCE, QB, Baylor, 3.79, Economics
NABAL JEFFERSON, DT, Northern Illinois, 3.78, Accounting
BARRETT JONES, C, Alabama, 4.00, Accounting
AARON MULLANE, OL, West Texas A&M, 3.84, Biology & Chemistry
RYAN NASSIB, QB, Syracuse, 3.57, Finance & Manag. Accounting
NOLAN NEARHOOF, DE, Robert Morris, 3.73, Biology
ETHAN PETERSON, OL, MIT, 3.83, Nuclear Engineering & Physics
SEAN RENFREE, QB, Duke, 3.40, Public Policy Studies
MANTI TE’O, LB, Notre Dame, 3.32, Graphic Design
PATRICK WARD, OT, Northwestern, 3.94, Mechanical Engineering
SHANE ZACKERY, WR, Saint Xavier (Ill.), 3.71, Business Management
“This year’s class contains some of the finest student-athletes to ever compete in college athletics in any sport,” said NFF President & CEO Steven J. Hatchell. “They have an average GPA of 3.67, which showcases their commitment to excellence in the classroom as well as on the field. Without exception, they embody what it takes to be great leaders. We are proud to hold them out as examples for future generations to emulate.”
The NFF’s National Scholar-Athlete program, launched in 1959, is the first initiative in history to award scholar-athletes postgraduate scholarships for their combined athletic, academic and leadership abilities. This year’s class members finds themselves in good company, as past National Scholar-Athletes include former NFL standout Derrick Brooks (Florida State); actor Mark Harmon (UCLA); NASA astronaut Leland Melvin (Richmond); former Dateline NBC anchor Stone Phillips (Yale); chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament, Billy Payne (Georgia); famed NFL quarterback Steve Young (BYU); and Heisman Trophy winners Terry Baker (Oregon State), Gary Beban (UCLA), Doug Flutie (Boston College) and Tim Tebow (Florida).
“The 2012 National Scholar-Athlete Class represents all that is right about college football,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning, whose sons Peyton (Campbell winner) and Eli were NFF National Scholar- Athletes in 1997 and 2003, respectively. “They have displayed the same competitive fire to win in the classroom that has distinguished them as some of the best football players in the country. In addition, each has found time to give back with an impressive list of leadership roles in their respective communities. Ensuring that they continue their education with an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship is a privilege, and we know that they have only begun to reach their potential.”
Each member of the 2012 National Scholar-Athlete Class will travel to New York City to be honored December 4 during the 55th NFF Annual Awards Dinner at the Waldorf=Astoria where their accomplishments will be highlighted in front of one of the most powerful audiences in all of sports. They each receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship, and one member of the class will also be announced live at the event as the 23rd recipient of the William V. Campbell Trophy, which recognizes an individual as the absolute best scholar-athlete in the nation.
Named in honor of Bill Campbell (the chairman of Intuit, a former player and head coach at Columbia University, and the 2004 recipient of the NFF’s Gold Medal), the award comes with a 25-pound bronze trophy and a $7,000 increase in postgraduate funds for a total scholarship of $25,000. A total distribution of $300,000 in scholarships will be awarded that evening, pushing the program’s all-time distributions to more than $10.1 million.
In 2011, the NFF and Fidelity Investments launched a multi-year initiative between the two organizations to celebrate the scholar-athlete ideal and a joint commitment to higher education. As part of the initiative, Fidelity became the first presenting sponsor ever in the 54-year history of the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards program. Fidelity also helped launch the NFF Faculty Salutes Initiative, which recognizes the contributions of the faculty athletics representatives at each of the institutions with an NFF National Scholar-Athlete. As part of the initiative, the NFF will present each of the faculty representatives with a plaque and a $5,000 check from Fidelity Investments to support the academic support services for student-athletes at each school.
2012 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class Highlights
• 3.67 Average GPA
• 13-of-15 Team Captains
• 13-of-15 Academic All-Conference Athletes (with one player attending an independent school)
• 10-of-15 All-Conference Athletes (with one player attending an independent school)
• 8 Academic All-America Selections (Burkhead, Driskill, Jones, Nearhoof, Peterson, Te’o, Ward, Zackery)
• 7 All-America Picks (Barkley, Burkhead, Davis, Driskill, Jones, Te’o, Zackery)
• 3 National Award Winners (Barkley – CollegeFootballNews.com Offensive Player of the Year; Driskill – D3Football.com National Defensive Player of the Year; Jones – Outland Trophy)
• 6 School Statistical Record Holders (Barkley, Burkhead, Florence, Nassib, Nearhoof, Renfree)
• 7 Members of Nationally Ranked Teams (Barkley, Davis, Driskill, Jones, Mullane, Te’o, Zackery)
• 6 National Championship Appearances (Driskill – 3; Jones – 2; Zackery – 1)
• 10 Offensive Players (Barkley, Burkhead, Florence, Jones, Mullane, Nearhoof, Peterson, Renfree, Ward, Zackery)
• 5 Defensive Players (Davis, Driskill, Jefferson, Nearhoof, Te’o)
Nominated by their schools, which are limited to one nominee each, candidates must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of eligibility, have a grade point average of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first team player and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship. The 147 semifinalists for the award were announced on Sept. 27 (names listed on the following page), and the class is selected each year by the NFF Awards Committee, which is comprised of a nationally recognized group of media, College Football Hall of Famers and athletics administrators.
In addition to the presentation of the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards and the William V. Campbell Trophy, the 55th NFF Annual Awards Dinner will include the induction of the 2012 College Football Hall of Fame Class and the presentation of several major awards, including the organization’s highest honor, the NFF Gold Medal, and the NFF Distinguished American Award.