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December 1, 2011

Yale's Witt Among 16 Finalists Vying for the Coveted Campbell Trophy

Courtesy of the National Football Foundation

DALLAS -- Yale senior quarterback Patrick Witt hits the Big Apple on Dec. 5-6 as one of 16 Campbell Trophy Finalists vying for the chance to become the 22nd recipient of the William V. Campbell Trophy, endowed by HealthSouth.

In New York City, Witt hopes to become the first Ivy League player to win the trophy. First awarded in 1990, the Campbell Trophy is named in honor of Bill Campbell, the chairman of Intuit, former player and head coach at Columbia and the 2004 recipient of the NFF's Gold Medal.

Witt is the 49th Ivy player to be honored as a NFF National Scholar-Athlete and the 11th Yale student-athlete to be honored with this award by the NCAA. The last Bulldog honored was defensive back Casey Gerald, who spoke on behalf of the 16 recipients at the 2008 event hosted at the famous Waldorf=Astoria Hotel in Manhattan. This marks the fourth straight year and seventh time in eight years the Ivy League has had a football student-athlete honored as an NFF National Scholar-Athlete.

The Campbell Trophy is one of college football's most sought after and competitive awards, recognizing an individual as the absolute best in the country for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary community leadership. The award comes with a 24-inch, 25-pound bronze trophy and a $25,000 postgraduate scholarship.

"The Campbell represents excellence in all aspects of one's life," said NFF President & CEO Steven J. Hatchell. "Past recipients have gone on to become lawyers, doctors and some of the best players in the NFL. Football truly does build leaders, and this year's 16 finalists stand as a testament to the sport's character building ability."

The announcement will be made between 8:30 - 9:00 p.m. during the 54th NFF Annual Awards Dinner at the Waldorf=Astoria on Tuesday, Dec. 6. ESPN3.com will carry the event live, and fans can also watch a live stream at FootballFoundation.org.

The 16 finalists, who will each claim an $18,000 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Award, presented by Fidelity Investments, boast a composite 3.81 grade point average, and 14 of the 16 finalists serve as their team captain. Other class accolades include four All-Americans, 11 All-Conference picks and 14 Academic All-Conference honorees. The group also saw 13 of its 16 members garner First Team CoSIDA Academic All-District honors in 2011.

Launched in 1959, the NFF scholar-athlete program became the first initiative in history to award a postgraduate scholarship based on a player's combined academic and athletic accomplishments. The program has awarded $9.8 million to 756 top athletes since its inception. The centerpiece to the NFF's scholar-athlete program is the Campbell Trophy.

Listed in alphabetical order, the 2011 Campbell Finalists are:

Drew Butler - P - University of Georgia: Qualified for the Athletic Director's Honor Roll every semester during his college career . . . a consensus First Team All-American and winner of the 2009 Ray Guy Award as the nation's top punter . . . punted 43 times for a 43-yard average, with a long of 59 yards, while pinning 16 kicks inside the 20-yard line . . . helped the No. 14 Bulldogs to a 10-2 record and the SEC East Division title . . . volunteers with Habitat for Humanity, the Boys and Girls Club and at several elementary schools.

Kirk Cousins - QB - Michigan State University: Qualified for the Dean's List or the President's List every semester of his college career . . . became Michigan State's all-time winningest quarterback and career touchdown pass leader this season . . . led the No. 13 Spartans to a 10-2 record and the inaugural Big Ten Leaders Division title . . . volunteers at a local hospital and with numerous reading initiatives.

Micah Davis - QB - Delta State University (Miss.): Graduated summa cum laude and enrolled in Delta State's MBA program . . . led the Statesmen to the top seed in the Division II playoffs . . . Delta State will host North Greenville (S.C.) in the quarterfinals on Saturday . . . ranks eighth in Division II with 3,207 passing yards with 22 touchdowns . . . volunteers at elementary schools, Relay for Life, Habitat for Humanity and at a children's hospital.

John Dowd - OG - U.S. Naval Academy: On pace to become the school's first two-time First Team Academic All-American . . . anchored one of the country's top rushing offenses in 2010 and 2009 . . . the Midshipmen rank third nationally in rushing this season, totaling over 313 yards per game, and average 5.5 yards per rush on 628 attempts . . . devotes a significant amount of time to various community outreach initiatives through Navy Athletics.

Yaser Elqutub - LB - Northwestern State University: Named A 2010 CoSIDA/ESPN First Team Academic All-District selection and FCS Academic All-Star . . . A walk-on who became an all-conference player and led the Demons to a share of the 2010 league title . . . notched 55 tackles, 3.5 TFL, eight quarterback hits, four pass breakups and one forced fumble . . . one of just 11 players from the divisional ranks chosen to the 2011 AFCA Good Works Team.

Chris Ganious - RB - University of South Dakota: Named a 2010 CoSIDA/ESPN Second Team Academic All-American . . . ranks among the top FCS active rushers in the country and third in school history . . . rushed 117 times for 471 yards and three touchdowns . . . also caught 14 passes for 106 yards . . . co-president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

Clay Garcia - QB - Colorado School of Mines: Qualified for the Dean's List every semester, graduating summa cum laude . . . ranks among the top ten active Division II quarterbacks in multiple career categories . . . places fifth nationally in passing, completing 272-of-434 attempts for 3,118 yards with 20 touchdowns . . . designed and built a fuel-cell driven car and completed an LED conversion analysis for the city of Golden, Colo.

Chandler Harnish - QB - Northern Illinois University: Named a Victory Scholar in NIU's Academic Excellence Program . . . ranks nationally among the top 20 active career leaders for passing and total offense . . . led the Huskies to a 9-3 mark and the MAC West Division championship . . . became the first quarterback in school history to guide the team to four consecutive bowl games . . . ranks seventh in FBS in total offense with 2,692 passing yards and 1,351 rushing yards . . . volunteers with underprivileged children and at local retirement homes.

Tysyn Hartman - DB - Kansas State University: Graduated in three and a half years, qualifying for the Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll every semester . . . accumulated more than 220 career tackles and nine interceptions . . . helped the Wildcats reach the top 12 of the BCS Standings for the first time since 2003 . . . accumulated 57 tackles, three interceptions and one forced fumble in 2011 . . . volunteers with the Adopt-a-Family initiative, the Special Olympics, and the Read to Achieve program.

Chaz Hine - OL - University of South Florida: A two-time member of the Big East All-Academic Team and member of USF's Honors College . . . a walk-on who has played in more than 40 games with more than 30 starts, including three bowl victories . . . helped the Bulls lead the Big East in rushing offense while also ranking in the top three in passing offense, total offense and scoring offense . . . an accomplished opera singer with leading roles in Les Miserables, Hello Dolly, South Pacific and Grease.

Joe Holland - LB - Purdue University: A three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and a 2010 Second Team Academic All-American . . . amassed more than 284 career tackles, ranking among the nation's active career leaders . . . places among the top 15 Big Ten tacklers with 85 stops, also notched 8.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, and five passes defended . . . helped the Boilermakers appear in their first bowl game since 2007 . . . volunteers at a local retirement home, the "Reading is Leading" initiative and with special needs children.

Jared Karstetter - WR - Washington State University: A member of the WSU Honors College and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars . . . ranks among the top ten in school history for career grabs and touchdown catches . . . snared 60 passes for 700 yards and six touchdowns this season . . . volunteers as a peer academic counselor and at the Shriner's Children's Hospital.

Andrew Rodriguez - LB - U.S. Military Academy: Ranked No. 3 out of 1,052 cadets in his class at West Point . . . accumulated 55 tackles, one interception, four pass breakups, five passes defended and two fumble recoveries . . . helped Army rank in the top 15 nationally in passing defense . . . chosen to participate in the West Point Academic Development Program in Italy.

Ryan Tannehill - QB - Texas A&M: Graduated cum laude and named an A&M Athletics Scholar four times . . . began his career as a wide receiver before moving to quarterback, becoming the only player in FBS history to record more than than 3,000 passing yards and 1,500 receiving yards in a career . . . ranks 12th nationally in total offense with 3,415 passing yards and 296 rushing yards while accounting for 32 touchdowns . . . volunteers at local elementary schools and churches and collected presents for underprivileged children.

Patrick Witt - QB - Yale University: A 2011 Rhodes Scholarship finalist and a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma International Honor Society . . . claims more than 5,000 passing yards and 31 touchdowns in his career as a Bulldog . . . named All-Ivy League Honorable Mention . . . volunteers as a high school mentor, Habitat for Humanity and at the Safe Haven Homeless Shelter.

Michael Zweifel - WR - University of Dubuque (Iowa): A two-time Academic All-Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference honoree . . . holds the all-division NCAA record for career receptions with 463 and ranks second in receiving yards with 5,979 . . . completed the 2011 season setting the NCAA Division III single-season receptions record with 140 grabs for 1,915 yards and 25 touchdowns . . . represented all IIAC athletes at the NCAA Student Leadership Conference.

Listed in chronological order, past Campbell winners, counting two Rhodes Scholars, a Rhodes Scholar finalist, two Heisman Trophy winners, and five first-round NFL draft picks, include:

Chris Howard (Air Force, 1990 - College President)
Brad Culpepper (Florida, 1991 - Attorney)
Jim Hansen (Colorado, 1992 - Leader in Climatological Research)
Thomas Burns (Virginia, 1993 - Engineering Executive)
Robert Zatechka (Nebraska, 1994 - Physician)
Bobby Hoying (Ohio State, 1995 - Real Estate Executive)
Danny Wuerffel (Florida, 1996 - Nonprofit Executive Director)
Peyton Manning (Tennessee, 1997 - NFL Player)
Matt Stinchcomb (Georgia, 1998 - Television Broadcaster & Insurance Executive)
Chad Pennington (Marshall, 1999 - NFL Player)
Kyle Vanden Bosch (Nebraska, 2000 - NFL Player)
Joaquin Gonzalez (Miami, 2001 - Corporate Executive)
Brandon Roberts (Washington University in St. Louis, 2002 - Physician)
Craig Krenzel (Ohio State, 2003 - Insurance Executive)
Michael Munoz (Tennessee, 2004 - Marketing Manager)
Rudy Niswanger (Louisiana State University, 2005 - NFL Player)
Brian Leonard (Rutgers University, 2006 - NFL Player)
Dallas Griffin (University of Texas, 2007 - Corporate Finance Associate)
Alex Mack (University of California, 2008 - NFL Player)
Tim Tebow (University of Florida, 2009 - NFL Player)
Sam Acho (University of Texas, 2010 - NFL Player)