National Football Foundation

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NFF Proudly Announces Finalists for 2015 William V. Campbell Trophy, Presented by Fidelity Investments®
Twelve of nation’s best and brightest players will vie for college football’s premier scholar-athlete award, and each will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship as a member of the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class.
Published: 10/29/2015 10:55:00 AM
(Pictured: Ohio State center Jacoby Boren and Baylor offensive tackle Spencer Drango, from the No.1 and No. 2 teams in the country respectively, are among the 12 outstanding finalists for the 2015 William V. Campbell Trophy, presented by Fidelity Investments. The 12 finalists will vie for college football’s premier scholar-athlete award, and each will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship as a member of the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class, presented by Fidelity Investments.)

IRVING, Texas (Oct. 29, 2015) – The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame announced today the finalists for the 2015 William V. Campbell Trophy, presented by Fidelity Investments® and prominently displayed at its official home inside the New York Athletic Club. The trophy recognizes an individual as the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation.

The 12 finalists will each receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship as a member of the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class, presented by Fidelity Investments. The finalists will travel to New York City for the 58th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 8, where their accomplishments will be highlighted in front of one of the most powerful audiences in all of sports. At the event, one member of the class will be declared in dramatic fashion the winner of the 26th William V. Campbell Trophy and have his postgraduate scholarship increased to $25,000.

Selected from a nationwide pool of 135 exceptional semifinalists from among all NCAA divisions and the NAIA, the 12 class members are:






E.K. Binns





Jacoby Boren


Ohio State


Sustainable Plant Systems

Jake Brendel





Taveze Calhoun


Mississippi State


Interdisciplinary Studies

Derek Crittenden





Ty Darlington




Arts & Sciences

Jordan Dobrich




Mechanical Engineering

Spencer Drango





Blake Frohnapfel





Jordan Italiano


Kent State



Hank Spencer


Mount Union (Ohio)


Computer Science

Jason Vander Laan


Ferris State (Mich.)


App. Math & Actuarial Science

“We are extremely proud to announce this year’s finalists for the Campbell Trophy, who make up the National Scholar-Athlete Class,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “These young men have an unrelenting commitment to excellence in all aspects of their lives, and they represent all that is right in college football. They serve as living examples of our mission of Building Leaders Through Football, and we are excited to be able to honor their hard work and accomplishments with postgraduate scholarships.”

The recipient of the Campbell Trophy will also be honored at the NFF Board of Directors meeting and at a reception hosted by the New York Athletic Club on Wednesday, Dec. 9. He will then fly to Atlanta to be recognized during the The Home Depot College Football Awards on ESPN at the College Football Hall of Fame on Dec. 10. As part of the NFF’s partnership with the College Football Playoff (CFP), the Campbell Trophy winner will be recognized on the field during the CFP National Championship on Jan. 11, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz.

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 $223,000 in scholarships will be awarded that evening, pushing the program’s all-time distributions to more than $10.9 million.

“The NFF Awards Committee did an excellent job in selecting this year’s National Scholar-Athletes,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning, whose sons Peyton (the 1997 Campbell Trophy winner) and Eli were NFF National Scholar-Athletes in 1997 and 2003, respectively. “Selected from an impressive group of semifinalists, they should be extremely proud of their accomplishments, as they have undoubtedly distinguished themselves as some of the best student-athletes in the country. Each of these men is also a leader in his respective community, and we know that they have only begun to reach their potential.”

The NFF National Scholar-Athlete program, launched in 1959, became the first initiative in history to award scholar-athletes postgraduate scholarships for their combined athletic, academic and leadership abilities. Including the 2015 recipients, the NFF has honored 816 individuals with National Scholar-Athlete Awards. The honorees have used the financial support to earn more than 150 medical degrees, 100 law degrees, 80 MBAs and 43 PhDs. Continuing their excellence on the field, 175 recipients have played in the NFL with an average career of six seasons or double the length of a typical NFL player. Past recipients also include 13 Rhodes Scholars.

The members of this year’s class find themselves among some of the most elite student-athletes in the history of the game, including former NFL standout Derrick Brooks (Florida State); actor Mark Harmon (UCLA); Robert Morris University President Chris Howard (Air Force); NCAA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Oliver Luck (West Virginia); NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins (Illinois) and Leland Melvin (Richmond); chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament, Billy Payne (Georgia); famed NFL quarterback Steve Young (BYU); and 32 College Football Hall of Famer, including 2015 electees Trev Alberts (Nebraska), Thom Gatewood (Notre Dame) and Dick Jauron (Yale).

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 history of the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards program. In 2014, Fidelity expanded its support, becoming the presenting sponsor of the William V. Campbell Trophy. Fidelity’s support also includes the NFF Faculty Salutes, 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 presents each of the faculty representatives with a plaque and a $5,000 check from Fidelity Investments, which is used to support the academic support services for student-athletes at each school.

2015 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class Highlights

  • 3.76 Average GPA
  • 11-of-12 Team Captains, including four players who have been captains for two or more years
  • 11-of-12 Academic All-Conference Athletes
  • 7-of-12 All-Conference Athletes (including one all-independent selection)
  • 6 Academic All-America Selections (Boren, Crittenden, Darlington, Italiano, Spencer, Vander Laan)
  • 1 Rhodes Scholarship Finalist (Crittenden)
  • 4 Players Who Have Already Graduated (Calhoun, Darlington, Drango, Frohnapfel), with three more on track to graduate by this December (Boren, Crittenden, Vander Laan)
  • 4 All-America Picks (Brendel, Drango, Spencer, Vander Laan)
  • 1 Major Award Winner (Vander Laan – Harlon Hill Trophy)
  • 2 Members of National Championship Teams (Boren, Spencer)
  • 5 Members of Conference Championship Teams (Boren, Darlington, Drango, Spencer, Vander Laan)
  • 6 Members of Nationally Ranked Teams* (as of 10/29) (Boren, Crittenden, Darlington, Drango, Spencer, Vander Laan)
  • 7 Offensive Players (Binns, Boren, Brendel, Darlington, Drango, Frohnapfel, Vander Laan)
  • 5 Defensive Players (Calhoun, Crittenden, Dobrich, Italiano, Spencer)

*FBS rankings based on FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll

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 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 135 semifinalists for the award were announced on Sept. 24, 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 58th NFF Annual Awards Dinner will include the induction of the 2015 College Football Hall of Fame Class and the presentation of several major awards, including the organization’s highest honor, the NFF Gold Medal.

Please click here to view the list of the 135 William V. Campbell Trophy semifinalists.

Bios for the 2015 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class, presented by Fidelity Investments
(In alphabetical order)

E.K. Binns, OG
United States Naval Academy
Economics – 3.43 GPA
Head Coach: Ken Niumatalolo
Athletics Director: Chet Gladchuk
Faculty Athletics Representative: Christine Copper

  • 2014 Academic All-District Selection and Dean’s List honoree
  • 2014 First Team All-Independent selection helped Keenan Reynolds set FBS record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback
  • Key cog to offense that ranked second nationally in rushing in 2013 and 2014 and is currently in the top five in 2015
  • Candidate to become a company commander in 2016
  • The Cape Coral, Fla., native becomes the ninth NFF National Scholar-Athlete from Navy

Jacoby Boren, C
Ohio State University
Sustainable Plant Systems – 3.83 GPA
Head Coach: Urban Meyer
Athletics Director: Gene Smith
Faculty Athletics Representative: John Bruno

  • 2014 Second Team Academic All-American and two-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar
  • Two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection led Buckeyes to a victory in first-ever College Football Playoff National Championship
  • Anchor of an offense that set multiple school records in 2014 and currently leads the Big Ten in rushing and scoring in 2015
  • Team captain regularly visits patients at local hospitals
  • The Pickerington, Ohio, native is the 21st NFF National Scholar-Athlete from Ohio State

Jake Brendel, C
University of California, Los Angeles
Economics – 3.43 GPA
Head Coach: Jim Mora Jr.
Athletics Director: Dan Guerrero
Faculty Athletics Representative: Michael Teitell

  • Academic All-District and three-time Academic All-Pac-12 honoree
  • Recipient of team’s Academic and Athletic Balance Award and consistent member of Athletics Director’s Honor Roll
  • Two-year team captain and four-year starter twice received All-Pac-12 laurels and was a Freshman All-American in 2012 while leading the Bruins to three straight bowl games
  • UCLA’s 2014 recipient of the N.N. Sugarman Award for leadership served as a peer mentor for children with disabilities
  • Hailing from Plano, Texas, he becomes the ninth NFF National Scholar-Athlete from UCLA

Taveze Calhoun, DB
Mississippi State University
Interdisciplinary Studies – 3.51 GPA
Head Coach: Dan Mullen
Athletics Director: Scott Stricklin
Faculty Athletics Representative: Steven Turner

  • The recipient of the 2015 Phi Beta Sigma State of Mississippi Academic Achievement Award is currently pursuing his master’s in education
  • Second Team All-SEC in 2013 after ranking second in conference in interception return yards and currently tied for team lead with two interceptions
  • Team captain and three-year starter led Bulldogs to three bowl games, including a berth in the 2014 Capital One Orange Bowl
  • Member of MSU Football Leadership Committee and active with the Salvation Army and Fellowship of Christian Athletes
  • The Ludlow, Miss., native is the fourth NFF National Scholar-Athlete from Mississippi State

Derek Crittenden, DE
University of Montana
Chemistry – 4.00 GPA
Head Coach: Bob Stitt
Athletics Director: Kent Haslam
Faculty Athletics Representative: Dusten Hollist

  • 2015 Rhodes Scholarship finalist with a perfect 4.0 GPA
  • 2015 FCS ADA Academic All-Star, 2014 Second Team Academic All-American and four-time Academic All-Big Sky selection
  • Team captain has played in every game of his career and helped Grizzlies to second round of FCS playoffs in 2013 and 2014
  • Performed more than 100 hours of community service and is forming a “Student-Athletes Against Sexual Violence” initiative at Montana
  • The Whitefish, Mo., native becomes the fourth NFF National Scholar-Athlete from Montana

Ty Darlington, C
University of Oklahoma
Arts & Sciences – 3.91 GPA
Head Coach: Bob Stoops
Athletics Director: Joe Castiglione
Faculty Athletics Representative: Kelly Damphousse

  • First Team Academic All-American and Academic All-Big 12 selection is currently working on his master’s in higher education
  • 2015 recipient of 1A FAR Academic Excellence Award and the Dr. Gerald Lage Award, the Big 12’s highest academic honor
  • Team captain has led the Sooners to three postseason berths, including a win in 2014 Sugar Bowl
  • President of Big 12 Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and OU’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter
  • The Apopka, Fla., native is the 10th NFF National Scholar-Athlete from Oklahoma

Jordan Dobrich, LB
University of Nevada
Mechanical Engineering – 3.85 GPA
Head Coach: Brian Polian
Athletics Director: Doug Knuth
Faculty Athletics Representative: David Croasdell

  • Two-time Academic All-District selection and 2014 Academic All-Mountain West honoree
  • Ranks in top 10 percent of his mechanical engineering class and is a member of Tau Beta Pi honors engineering fraternity
  • First three-year team captain in modern school history  led the Wolf Pack to two bowl appearances and was second on team with 85 tackles in 2014
  • Academic Chair of Theta Tau engineering fraternity and member of National Society of Leadership
  • The Magalia, Calif., native becomes the first NFF National Scholar-Athlete from Nevada

Spencer Drango, OT
Baylor University
Finance – 3.71 GPA
Head Coach: Art Briles
Athletics Director: Ian McCaw
Faculty Athletics Representative: Jeremy Counseller

  • First Team Academic All-District and three-time Academic All-Big 12 selection currently working on his MBA
  • 2014 consensus First Team All-American and two-time First Team All-Big 12 honoree heads a Bears offensive line that leads the Big 12 in total offense in 2015
  • Key member of one of the nation’s most prolific offenses the past three seasons while leading the Bears to three bowl berths and two Big 12 titles
  • President of Baylor’s Uplifting Athletes chapter participated in two-week mission trip to Brazil
  • The San Diego native becomes the fourth NFF National Scholar-Athlete from Baylor

Blake Frohnapfel, QB
University of Massachusetts
Finance/Economics – 3.65 GPA
Head Coach: Mark Whipple
Athletics Director: Ryan Bamford
Faculty Athletics Representative: Rebecca Spencer

  • Earned his bachelor’s degree in only three years and is currently a full-time MBA student
  • 2014 Distinguished MAC Scholar-Athlete and First Team Academic All-MAC selection
  • 2014 First Team All-MAC selection is just the fourth quarterback in school history to eclipse the 5,000-yard passing mark with 5,379 career passing yards
  • Selected to attend NCAA Leadership Conference and has volunteered with the Boys and Girls Club and the Special Olympics
  • The Stafford, Va., native is the second NFF National Scholar-Athlete from UMass

Jordan Italiano, S
Kent State University
Biochemistry – 3.98 GPA
Head Coach: Paul Haynes
Athletics Director: Joel Nielsen
Faculty Athletics Representative: Kathy Wilson

  • Two-time Academic All-American and a 2014 MAC Distinguished Scholar-Athlete
  • Two-time Academic All-MAC honoree has highest GPA among Kent State football upperclassmen and received Gerald and Victoria Reed Award for hard work and dedication
  • Team captain led Golden Flashes in interceptions and forced turnovers in 2014
  • Participated in Kent State Leadership Academy and earned Green Dot certification to become a violence prevention instructor
  • The Canfield, Ohio, native becomes the first NFF National Scholar-Athlete from Kent State

Hank Spencer, LB
University of Mount Union (Ohio)
Computer Science – 3.99 GPA
Head Coach: Vince Kehres
Athletics Director: Larry Kehres
Faculty Athletics Representative: Scott Mason

  • Second Team Academic All-American and two-time recipient of NCAA Elite 89 Award for having the highest GPA at a championship event
  • Two-year team captain was an Honorable Mention All-American in 2014 and heads unit that leads Division III in total defense while allowing only 4.4 points per game
  • Four-year starter led Purple Raiders to three consecutive Division III national championship games and the national title in 2012
  • Assisted Mount Union’s student support office and volunteered for “Trick or Treat with the Raiders” project
  • The Greencastle, Ind., native is the fourth NFF National Scholar-Athlete from Mount Union

Jason Vander Laan, QB
Ferris State University (Mich.)
Applied Math & Actuarial Science – 3.77 GPA
Head Coach: Tony Annese
Athletics Director: Perk Weisenburger
Faculty Athletics Representative: Kim Hancock

  • 2014-15 Division II Scholar-Athlete of the Year and First Team Academic All-American
  • Reigning Harlon Hill Trophy winner as the top player in Division II and 2014 consensus First Team All-American has led Bull Dogs to 22 consecutive regular-season wins
  • 2014 conference player of the year and three-year captain is the all-time leader in rushing yards by a quarterback at any level of NCAA football
  • Participated in the Hammers & Hearts mission trip to Florida and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes
  • The Frankfort, Ill., native is the second NFF National Scholar-Athlete from Ferris State

About Fidelity Investments
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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, 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 the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, Fidelity Investments, Herff Jones, New York Athletic Club, Pasadena Tournament of Roses, PrimeSport, SKP, the Sports Business Journal and Under Armour. Learn more at

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The William V. Campbell Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. The 21 awards boast 678 years of tradition-selection excellence. Visit to learn more about our story.

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