MAC With Four NFF National Scholar-Athlete Candidates

Updated 10/3/2013

Fakes, Neutz, Krempel and Kerin Named Candidates to the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Award

DALLAS, October 2, 2013 – Selected as the best and brightest from the college gridiron, The National Football Foundation (NFF) announced today the 170 candidates for the 2013 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards, presented by Fidelity Investments.® The nominees also comprise the list of semifinalists for the 2013 William V. Campbell Trophy, endowed by HealthSouth, which recognizes an individual as the absolute best scholar-athlete in the nation. The 170 semifinalists represent the most ever since 2006 when the NFF increased the nomination standards to require a minimum cumulative 3.2 GPA.
From the MAC, Ball State tight end Zane Fakes, Buffalo senior wide receiver Alex Neutz, Northern Illinois senior offensive tackle Matt Krempel and Toledo senior center Zac Kerin were named as candidates.
Fakes has started all five games this season for Ball State with 11 receptions for 110 yards and one touchdown.  Fakes is part of an offfensive unit that has scored 200 points, the second most points in school history after the first five regular season games, as the Cardinals have jumped to a 4-1 overall record, including 2-0 in Conference play.  Fakes, who earned his bachelor’s degree in May and is pursuing a master’s degree at Ball State, has started 33 games in his career.  A member of the John Mackey Award Watch List, Fakes was a 2012 All-MAC and Academic All-MAC first team selection.  Fakes tallied a 3.589 grade-point average on Ball State’s 4.0 scale as an undergraduate and is in his first semester of graduate school.
Neutz has started all four games this year for Buffalo and has collected 27 receptions for 414 yards and four touchdowns.  Neutz is tied for the MAC lead with four touchdown receptions, ranks tied for third in receptions (27) and is third in receiving yards (414). Neutz graduated in May with a degree in management and is currently enrolled in graduate school at UB. The Grand Island, NY native has a 3.6 grade point average. A 2012 second-team All-MAC receiver, Neutz is on the Biletnikoff Award Watch List, given to the nation's top wide receiver. 
Krempel is a three-year letterwinner at offensive tackle for the Huskies who has shared the starting right tackle position over the last two seasons. Krempel has played offensive line on some of the most successful teams, and most successful offenses, in the history of Northern Illinois University as NIU has won 11-or-more games in each of the last three seasons. A year ago, the Huskies ranked 15th in the country in total offense and gained at least 500 yards of offense in seven games while allowing just 1.2 sacks per game. NIU won its second consecutive Mid-American Conference Championship en route to earning the MAC's first spot in a Bowl Championship Series (BCS) bowl game.
In the classroom, Krempel earned his undergraduate degree in pre-physical therapy in May 2012 with a GPA of 3.59. He is currently pursuing a master's degree in kinesiology and physical education at NIU while completing applications for physical therapy school. Krempel is a member of NIU's Leadership Council and is very involved with the local "Best Buddies" program which pairs individuals with developmentally-challenged adults.
Kerin has started all five games for the Rockets this season.  Toledo posts a 2-3 overall record, including 1-1 in MAC games.  Kerin, a 6-5, 300-pound center, has a 3.613 grade-point average in civil engineering. He is a two-time All-MAC player, and earned Academic All-MAC and Academic All-District honors in 2012.
“We take great pride in the record participation by the number of schools in the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards program this year,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning whose sons Peyton (William V. Campbell Trophy winner) and Eli were named NFF National Scholar-Athletes in 1997 and 2003, respectively. “It is important for us to showcase that success on the football field starts with winners in the classroom and the community. This year’s record-breaking number of nominations further illustrates the power of our great sport in developing the next generation of influential leaders.”
· NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards program launched in 1959.
· 170 nominations, record number since minimum GPA increased in 2006.
· 3.60 Average GPA
· 7 nominees with a perfect 4.0 GPA
· 39 nominees with a 3.8 GPA or better
· 105 Team Captains
· 97 All-Conference Picks
· 29 Academic All-America Selections
· 21 All-America Selections
· One former NFF National High School Scholar-Athlete
· 54 Nominees from the Football Bowl Subdivision
· 46 Nominees from the Football Championship Subdivision
· 24 Nominees from the Division II
· 39 Nominees from the Division III
· 7 Nominees from the NAIA
· 86 Offensive Players
· 64 Defensive Players
· 20 Special Teams Players  
Nominated by their schools, which are limited to one nominee each, candidates for the awards must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of eligibility, have a GPA of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first team player or significant contributor, and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship. 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.
“The NFF would like to personally congratulate each of the nominees as well as their schools on this tremendous honor,” said NFF President & CEO Steven J. Hatchell. “We are extremely proud to highlight each semifinalist’s achievements, which show that football players can balance between academics and athletics at the highest level. There is no question that the NFF Awards Committee will have an incredibly difficult task in selecting the finalists from among this esteemed group.”
The NFF Awards Committee will select up to 16 recipients, and the results will be announced via a national press release on Thursday, October 31. Each recipient will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship, and they will vie as finalists for the 2013 William V. Campbell Trophy. Each member of the 2013 National Scholar-Athlete Class will also travel to New York City to be honored Dec. 10 during the 56th 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. One member of the class will also be announced live at the event as the winner of the William V. Campbell Trophy.
Named in honor of Bill Campbell, the chairman of Intuit, 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 increases the amount of the recipient’s grant by $7,000 for a total post-graduate scholarship of $25,000. A total distribution of $300,000 in scholarships will be awarded at the NFF Annual Awards Dinner, pushing the program’s all-time distributions to more than $10.4 million.
Launched in 1959, the NFF scholar-athlete program became the first initiative in history to award post-graduate scholarships based on both a player’s academic and athletic accomplishments. The William V. Campbell Trophy, first awarded in 1990, adds to the program’s mystique, having previously honored two Rhodes Scholars, a Rhodes Scholar finalist, two Heisman Trophy winners and five first-round NFL draft picks.
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 55-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.
The past recipients of the William V. Campbell Trophy include: Air Force’s Chris Howard (1990); Florida’s Brad Culpepper (1991); Colorado’s Jim Hansen (1992); Virginia’s Thomas Burns (1993); Nebraska’s Rob Zatechka (1994); Ohio State’s Bobby Hoying (1995); Florida’s Danny Wuerffel (1996); Tennessee’s Peyton Manning (1997); Georgia’s Matt Stinchcomb (1998); Marshall’s Chad Pennington (1999); Nebraska’s Kyle Vanden Bosch (2000); Miami’s (Fla.) Joaquin Gonzalez (2001); Washington University in St. Louis’ Brandon Roberts (2002); Ohio State’s Craig Krenzel (2003); Tennessee’s Michael Munoz (2004); LSU’s Rudy Niswanger (2005); Rutgers’ Brian Leonard (2006); Texas’ Dallas Griffin (2007); Cal’s Alex Mack (2008); Florida’s Tim Tebow (2009); Texas’ Sam Acho (2010); Army’s Andrew Rodriguez (2011); and Alabama’s Barrett Jones (2012).