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2016 NFF National High School Scholar-Athlete Award Finalists Announced
Five distinguished scholar-athletes will be selected and honored at the NFF Annual Chapter Awards Luncheon, presented by Under Armour, in New York City on Dec. 6.
Published: 9/13/2016 11:00:00 AM
(Pictured: The 2015 NFF National High School Scholar-Athletes were honored last December at the NFF Chapter Awards Luncheon, presented by Under Armour. Now in college, L-R: UCLA QB Josh Rosen, Tulsa QB Will Hefley III, Northwestern WR Jelani Roberts, Army LB Kenneth Brinson and Boston College DE Zach Allen.

IRVING, Texas (Sept. 13, 2016)
– The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) announced today the names of the 36 finalists for the 2016 NFF National High School Scholar-Athlete Awards, which will honor one young man from each of the country’s five regions as the best and the brightest for their accomplishments as athletes, scholars and citizens at the high school level.

The finalists all graduated from high school in 2016 and are now playing college football. The five honorees, who are being recognized for their previous accomplishments in high school, will be announced the week of Oct. 3.

“The NFF Chapter Network continues to grow and excel, and their work this year has allowed us to identify these 36 exceptional high school scholar-athletes who have clearly established themselves among the best in the nation,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “It will be a difficult task to select one from each region as the absolute best. Each possesses incredible talent in all facets of their lives, and it is a tremendous honor for us to highlight their accomplishments.”

With 120 chapters and more than 12,000 members, the NFF Chapter Network impacts more than 500,000 student-athletes at 5,000 high schools in 47 states each year. The centerpiece of their efforts are the annual chapter awards banquets, which recognize more than 3,500 of the nation’s top scholar-athletes and distribute more than $1 million in scholarships. From this pool of 3,500 scholar-athletes, the chapters have nominated 36 individuals in 2016 as finalists for the highly sought-after NFF National High School Scholar-Athlete Awards. A national committee will select five honorees, one from each region.

The five honorees will travel to New York City to be honored during the NFF Chapter Awards Luncheon, presented by Under Armour, on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016, at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. First bestowed in 1991, the NFF National High School Scholar-Athlete Awards have become one of the most prestigious high school honors in the country. Criteria for the award include but are not limited to academic achievement, athletic accolades and community involvement.

2016 NFF National High School Scholar-Athlete Award Finalist Highlights

  • 26th year of the National High School Scholar-Athlete Awards
  • 36 finalists from around the country
  • 4.1 average GPA
  • 13 finalists attending FBS schools
  • 9 finalists attending FCS schools
  • 6 finalists attending Ivy League schools
  • 14 finalists attending Division II, Division III, NAIA schools or junior colleges

East Region Nominees

  • Sonny Abramson from Pope John XXIII Regional High School in Sparta, N.J. Nominated by the NFF Greater Morris County (N.J.) Chapter and currently playing at the University of Virginia.
  • David Cooper from Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria, Va. Nominated by the NFF National Capital (D.C.) Chapter and currently playing at the United States Military Academy.
  • Justin Covington from Cardinal Hayes High School in New York City. Nominated by the NFF New York City Chapter and currently playing at Villanova University.
  • Christopher “C.J.” Markisz from West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North in Plainsboro, N.J. Nominated by the NFF Delaware Valley (N.J.) Chapter and currently playing at Bowdoin College (Maine).
  • Austin Montgomery from Bedford High School in Bedford, Pa. Nominated by the NFF Central Pennsylvania Chapter and currently playing at Juniata College (Pa.).
  • Stephen Spanellis from The Gilman School in Baltimore, Md. Nominated by the NFF Greater Baltimore Chapter and currently playing at the University of Michigan.

Midwest Region Nominees

  • David Barnett from Shawnee High School in Springfield, Ohio. Nominated by the NFF Springfield (Ohio) Chapter and currently playing at Capital University (Ohio).
  • Ben Christensen from Lincoln-Way East High School in Frankfort, Ill. Nominated by the NFF Chicago Metro Chapter and currently playing at the University of Chicago (Ill.).
  • Evan Lee Deig from FJ Reitz High School in Evansville, Ind. Nominated by the NFF Southern Indiana Chapter and currently playing at Wabash College (Ind.).
  • Andrew Griffin from Avon High School in Avon, Ind. Nominated by the NFF Central Indiana Chapter and currently playing at Princeton University.
  • Price Morgan from Lawrence High School in Lawrence, Kan. Nominated by the NFF Sunflower (Kan.) Chapter and currently playing at the United States Air Force Academy.
  • Trevor Pipkin from Prescott High School in Prescott, Ark. Nominated by the NFF Arkansas Chapter and currently playing at Henderson State University (Ark.).
  • Garritt Slatcoff from Chesterton High School in Chesterton, Ind. Nominated by the NFF Joe Tiller/Northwest Indiana Chapter and currently playing at Wabash College (Ind.).
  • Brett Slusher from Beechwood High School in Fort Mitchell, Ky. Nominated by the NFF Greater Cincinnati Chapter and currently playing at the University of Kentucky.
  • Nate Stanley from Menomonie High School in Menomonie, Wis. Nominated by the NFF Wisconsin Chapter and currently playing at the University of Iowa.

Northeast Region Nominees

  • Oliver Eberth from St. John's Preparatory School in Danvers, Mass. Nominated by the NFF Jack Grinold/Eastern Mass Chapter and currently playing at Amherst College (Mass.).
  • Benjamin Emrick from Windham High School in Windham, N.H. Nominated by the NFF Joe Yukica/New Hampshire Chapter and currently playing at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Mass.).
  • Thomas Hagen from Skaneateles Senior High School in Skaneateles, N.Y. Nominated by the NFF Central New York Chapter and currently playing at Cornell University.
  • Scooter Harrington from Greenwich High School in Greenwich, Conn. Nominated by the NFF Ralph Desantis/Fairfield County (Conn.) Chapter and currently playing at Stanford University.
  • Riley Held from East Longmeadow High School in East Longmeadow, Mass. Nominated by the NFF Western Massachusetts Chapter and currently playing at Princeton University.
  • Brendan MacPhee from Shaker High School in Latham, N.Y. Nominated by the NFF Capital District (N.Y.) Chapter and currently playing at Yale University.
  • Austin McCrum from Thornton Academy in Saco, Maine. Nominated by the NFF State of Maine Chapter and currently playing at Lafayette College.
  • Robert “R.J.” Oris from Cheshire High School in Cheshire, Conn. Nominated by the NFF Casey-O’Brien/New Haven (Conn.) Chapter and currently playing at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Mass.).
  • Nate Richam-Odoi from Conard High School in West Hartford, Conn. Nominated by the NFF Northern Connecticut Chapter and currently playing at Bowdoin College (Maine).

South Region Nominees

  • Tyler Campbell from Plano West Senior High School in Plano, Texas. Nominated by the NFF Gridiron Club of Dallas Chapter and currently playing at Princeton University.
  • David Fitzwater from Calvary Baptist Academy in Shreveport, La. Nominated by the NFF S.M. McNaughton (La.) Chapter and currently playing at the University of Tulsa.
  • Jerry Lunsford from Hampton High School in Hampton, Tenn. Nominated by the NFF Mountain Empire (Tenn.) Chapter and currently playing at the University of the Cumberlands (Ky.).
  • Keeath Magee from Westfield High School in Houston, Texas. Nominated by the NFF Touchdown Club of Houston Chapter and currently playing at Texas A&M University.
  • John Orr from Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville, Tenn. Nominated by the NFF Middle Tennessee Chapter and currently playing at Princeton University.
  • Thomas Ruocchio from Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh, N.C. Nominated by the NFFCHOF Bill Dooley (N.C.) Chapter and currently playing at North Carolina State University.
  • Joe Ryan from H.B. Plant High School in Tampa, Fla. Nominated by the NFF Tampa (Fla.) Chapter and currently playing at the United States Military Academy.
  • Charlie Woerner from Rabun County High School in Tiger, Ga. Nominated by the NFF University of Georgia Chapter and currently playing at the University of Georgia.

West Region Nominees

  • Brady Breeze from Central Catholic High School in Portland, Ore. Nominated by the NFF Portland (Ore.) Chapter and currently playing at the University of Oregon.
  • Johansen “JoJo” Domann from Pine Creek High School in Colorado Springs, Colo. Nominated by the NFF Colorado Chapter and currently playing at the University of Nebraska.
  • Gresch Jensen from Auburn Mountainview High School in Auburn, Wash. Nominated by the NFF King County/Seattle Chapter and currently playing at the University of Montana.
  • Matthew Mitchell from Joy Christian School in Glendale, Ariz. Nominated by the NFF Valley of the Sun (Ariz.) Chapter and currently playing at Phoenix College (Ariz.).

During the past 25 years, 110 student-athletes have been recognized as NFF National High School Scholar-Athletes, and this year will mark the 26th class of honorees. Past NFF National High School Scholar-Athletes have gone on to hold various titles, including president, CEO, vice president, lawyer, NFL player, orthopedic surgeon, senior partner and financial analyst, among others. Recent recipients include Brandon Fisher (2005, former Montana linebacker and current Los Angeles Rams defensive backs coach), Andrew Luck (2008, former Stanford and current Indianapolis Colts quarterback), Andrew Rodriguez (2008, Army West Point linebacker and winner of the 2011 William V. Campbell Trophy), Josh Rosen (2015, First Team Freshman All-America quarterback at UCLA) and Weston Steelhammer (2013, First Team All-Mountain West defensive back at Air Force).

Other notable past recipients include Todd Helton (1992, former Tennessee quarterback and retired Colorado Rockies first baseman), Drew Henson (1998, former Michigan quarterback and professional football and baseball player), Bobby Hoying (1991, former Ohio State quarterback and winner of the 1995 William V. Campbell Trophy) and Jon Stinchcomb (1998, former Georgia and NFL offensive lineman). Five NFF National High School Scholar-Athletes have gone on to win NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards for their accomplishments in college. They are Giovanni Carmazzi (1995, Hofstra), Hoying, Eion Hu (1993, Harvard), Rodriguez and Stinchcomb.

Following the Dec. 6 luncheon, the five 2016 recipients will attend the 59th NFF Annual Awards Dinner, also at the Waldorf Astoria, as honored guests where they will meet many of the game’s greatest legends and current college stars. As the culmination of the regular season, the evening event provides the stage for the induction of the 2016 College Football Hall of Fame Class; the presentation of the 2016 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards, presented by Fidelity Investments; the bestowing of the 27th NFF William V. Campbell Trophy, presented by Fidelity Investments, to the nation’s top scholar-athlete; and the recognition of the 2016 NFF Major Award recipients. For tickets to the Dec. 6 luncheon in New York, please contact Ron Dilatush at rdilatush@footballfoundation.com or by calling 972-556-1000.


About The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame
Founded in 1947 with early leadership from General Douglas MacArthur, legendary Army coach Earl "Red" Blaik and immortal journalist Grantland Rice, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame is a non-profit educational organization that runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people. With 120 chapters and 12,000 members nationwide, NFF programs include FootballMatters.org, the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, The William V. Campbell Trophy presented by Fidelity Investments, annual scholarships of more than $1.3 million and a series of initiatives to honor the legends of the past and inspire the leaders of the future. NFF corporate partners include Delta Air Lines, Fidelity Investments, Herff Jones, New York Athletic Club, Pasadena Tournament of Roses, PrimeSport, the Sports Business Journal, Under Armour and VICIS. Learn more at www.footballfoundation.org.

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