Colonels running back Caleb Watkins is among the 167 semifinalists for the 2014 William V. Campbell Trophy®, presented by Fidelity Investments® and announced by The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF).
Watkins was one of three OVC selections. The others were Austin Peay punter Ben Campbell and Jacksonville State offensive lineman Max Holcombe. The trio are three of just 37 student-athletes selected from the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).
The award recognizes an individual as the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation, and up to 16 of the candidates will be named recipients of a prestigious NFF National Scholar-Athlete Award, also presented by Fidelity Investments. Launched in 1959, the NFF National Scholar-Athlete program awards $18,000 scholarships that can be used for the honorees’ postgraduate educations. This year’s recipients will be announced Oct. 30, and one will be declared the winner of the Campbell Trophy Dec. 9 at the 57th NFF Annual Awards Dinner.
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 $10.7 million.
“These 167 impressive candidates truly represent the scholar-athlete ideal,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning whose sons Peyton (Campbell Trophy winner) and Eli were named NFF National Scholar-Athletes in 1997 and 2003, respectively. “It is important for us to showcase their success on the football field, in the classroom and in the community. This year’s semifinalists further illustrate the power of our great sport in developing the next generation of influential leaders.”
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 and coaches on this tremendous honor,” said NFF President & CEO Steve 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. The NFF Awards Committee will have an incredibly difficult task in selecting the finalists from this outstanding group of candidates.”
The NFF Awards Committee will select up to 16 recipients, and the results will be announced via a national press release on Thursday, Oct. 30. Each recipient will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship, and they will vie as finalists for the 2014 William V. Campbell Trophy, presented by Fidelity Investments and hosted at the NYAC, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2014. Each member of the 2014 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class will also travel to New York City to be honored Dec. 9 during the 57th 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 Campbell Trophy.
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, and it has recognized 787 outstanding individuals since its inception. The Campbell Trophy, first awarded in 1990, adds to the program’s prestige, having previously honored two Rhodes Scholars, a Rhodes Scholar finalist, two Heisman Trophy winners and five first-round NFL draft picks. Earlier this month, Fidelity Investments became the first presenting sponsor of the Campbell Trophy.
In 2011, the NFF and Fidelity 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.