Penn State senior John Urschel is among the candidates for the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Awards presented by Fidelity Investments.
He also is a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, endowed by HealthSouth, which recognizes an individual as the top football scholar-athlete in the nation.
Urschel has an opportunity to become Penn State's 17th NFF Scholar-Athlete recipient, the last being All-America offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski in 2010. Tony Pittman, Jeff Hartings, Wally Richardson, Aaron Collins and Paul Posluszny are the Nittany Lions' other NFF honorees during the Big Ten era. Director of Athletics Dave Joyner was Penn State's first NFF Scholar-Athlete in 1971.
A 6-3, 301-pound guard, Urschel has started 16 consecutive games for Coach Bill O'Brien's squad and played in 29 straight games. Urschel earned first team All-Big Ten honors last season after blocking for a 1,000-yard rusher in Zach Zwinak and 3,000-yard passer Matt McGloin. He is on the Watch Lists for the 2013 Outland Trophy and the Rotary Lombardi Award. Urschel is also one of 30 candidates for the Senior CLASS Award.
Considered among the nation's premier college football scholar-athletes, Urschel owns a 4.0 grade-point average and is among seven of the 170 Scholar-Athlete nominees from all NCAA and NAIA divisions with a 4.0 GPA. He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in mathematics over the past four years. The former Canisius High School standout anchors the Nittany Lions' offensive line, and is working on a second master's degree, in math education.
A 2012 first team CoSIDA Academic All-American, Urschel has an opportunity this fall to earn his fourth straight nod on the Academic All-Big Ten squad, his third selection to the Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-District team and his second Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-America selection.
Urschel taught a section of Math 041 - Trigonometry and Analytic Geometry during the Spring 2013 semester and is teaching a section of Math 232 - Integral Vector Calculus this semester, in addition to his academic and football responsibilities. Urschel has participated in the Penn State Lift for Life, THON events, the Relay for Life and the Special Olympics Pennsylvania State Summer Games during his career.
"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. "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."
The 170 candidates for the Scholar-Athlete awards were nominated by their schools as the best all-around student-athlete on their respective teams. Candidates must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of eligibility, have a grade point average of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first team player and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship. The candidates come from all levels of play in the NCAA and the NAIA. The trophy is named in honor of Bill Campbell, former player and head coach at Columbia University and the 2004 recipient of the NFF's Gold Medal.
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 Fame inductees, and athletics administrators. The committee will select up to 16 scholar-athletes from across the country for these prestigious $18,000 fellowships, and they consider candidates from all levels of college football, including the Division I Bowl Subdivision, Division I Championship Subdivision, Division II, Division III and the NAIA, in making their selections.
The committee also designates one of the recipients as the top college football Scholar-Athlete of the Year, an honor that comes with the William V. Campbell Trophy, endowed by HealthSouth. Symbolizing the essence of the NFF's mission to build leaders through football, the Campbell Trophy comes with an additional $7,000 in scholarship money for a total of $25,000.
Each recipient travels to New York City as the guest of the foundation for the 56th Annual NFF Awards Dinner on December 10 at the Waldorf-Astoria, where they sit on the dais and have their accomplishments highlighted in front of one of the most powerful and influential audiences in all of sports. The event also includes the induction of the College Football Hall of Fame Class and the presentation of several major awards, including the organization's highest honor, the Gold Medal, which has been claimed by seven U.S. Presidents.