by Jonah Rosenblum (@jonahlrosenblum)
Northwestern senior offensive lineman Patrick Ward has been named a semifinalist for the National Football Foundation's William V. Campbell Trophy, awarded to the best scholar-athlete in the country. The recognition is hardly a surprise, given that Ward was a first-team Capital One Academic All-America candidate last year, and is expected to be up for the award again this season. Ward has also excelled on the field, as he is in his third year as a starter on the Wildcats' offensive line. He will have particularly big shoes to fill this season, as he moves from right tackle to left tackle to replace Outland Trophy candidate Al Netter.
Ward is one of 147 semifinalists, a lengthy list that includes several other Big Ten players. The conference's nominees comprise Indiana's Adam Replogle, Iowa's James Vandenberg, Nebraska's Rex Burkhead, Penn State's Pete Massaro, Purdue's Robert Maci, Ohio State's Ben Buchanan, Wisconsin's Shelton Johnson and Ward. Last year's winner, Army's Andrew Rodriguez, was also a familiar face for the Wildcats, as he compiled six tackles, including a tackle for loss, in Army's 21-14 victory over Northwestern last season.
Past winners of the Campbell Trophy include Kyle Vanden Bosch, Chad Pennington, Peyton Manning and Tim Tebow.
The Campbell Trophy process begins with a nomination, as each school is allowed to nominate just one player for the award. Nominees must meet a hefty set of standards. They must boast a 3.2 GPA out of a four-point scale, they must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of eligibility, they must have "outstanding football ability as a first team player or significant contributor" and they must have demonstrated outstanding citizenship and/or leadership qualities.
On Thursday, October 25, the NFF Awards Committee, a nationally recognized group of media, College Football Hall of Famers and athletics administrators, will narrow the list down to 16, each of whom will receive an $18,000 scholarship. All 16 recipients will get an extra treat, as they travel to New York City for a December 4 dinner at the Waldorf Astoria. It's not just any dinner though; it's the 55th NFF Annual Awards Dinner, and at that dinner, one recipient will get the 25-pound Campbell Trophy and an additional $7,000 added to his scholarship. A whopping total of $300,000 will be given out in scholarships at this dinner, pushing the all-time total past $10.1 million.