College football stars like Florida’s Tim Tebow, Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones and Southern Cal quarterback Matt Barkley have already seen their name connected with former Heisman Trophy winner and Fort Walton Beach graduate Danny Wuerffel, as all three have been honored as Wuerffel Trophy recipients. Soon, another name will be added to the list, as the All Sports Association released its 12 finalists for the 2013 Wuerffel Trophy, which is given annually to the college football player who best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement.
The list of finalists includes Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, the Southeastern Conference’s all-time leading passer. Murray, also a finalist last year, has been nominated as a senior for his outstanding record in the classroom, on the field and in the community. Poised to own a number of SEC passing records by the time his final season is complete, Murray takes part in many off-the-field community projects, including Read Across America, assisting with wheelchair football championships and Countdown to Kickoff, which helped raise money and awareness for cancer research. Murray is not alone in showcasing a diverse package of on-field accomplishments and community service, as the other 11 finalists represented a decorated and dedicated group of student-athletes.
“Once again, I’m amazed as I look at this year’s finalists,” said Wuerffel, the 1996 Heisman Trophy. “All these young men are truly remarkable and I am honored to have them representing the trophy named after me.”
Handed out since 2005, the Wuerffel Trophy has quickly become one of college football’s premier postseason awards. The list of winners also includes the inaugural winner, Rudy Niswanger of LSU, Texas DE Sam Acho, and Barkley, who said a year ago that “this is quite an honor. Any time you can get your name associated with Danny Wuerffel and the other winners, it’s incredible.”
This year’s finalists include:
- Army fullback Hayden Tippett, a vital part of the Black Knights’ backfield who spent a month in the offseason volunteering in Hohoe, Ghana, as a fourth grade instructor.
- Duke offensive lineman Dave Harding, an All-ACC football player and All-ACC academic team member who organized a trip to Ethiopia in the summer of 2012 for 10 Duke players. The trip resulted in the players helping villagers access clean water.
- Georgia Tech offensive lineman Will Jackson, a member of the 2012 ACC All-Academic Team who was also named to the preseason All-ACC football team. Jackson counts volunteering for the Special Olympics and helping out with Atlanta area Boys & Girls Clubs as part of his community service.
- Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, a four-year starter who graduated with his bachelor’s degree in communications in 3 1/2 years. Active with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Scheelhase also participates in the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, which helps with Chicago area youth.
- James Morris, Iowa’s starting middle linebacker who has been All-Big Ten athletically and academically for the past two years. A volunteer with the Ronald McDonald House, Morris is also a frequent visitor to the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital.
- Jacob Karam, a senior quarterback at the University of Memphis. A pre-law student with a GPA of 3.84, Karam is perhaps best-known for a YouTube video from the summer of 2012 that featured the quarterback visiting St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, when he could be seen playing piano and singing with a young patient. Karam, who was named to the Conference USA All-Academic Team in 2012, also received the Spirit of Service award from the conference.
- Chris Hawthorne, the starting kicker at the University of Minnesota, who has over 200 recorded hours of volunteering on his resume, including the organization of a dance marathon to benefit the University of Minnesota’s Amplatz Children’s Hospital.
- Gabe Ikard, a starting offensive lineman at the University of Oklahoma, who is a three-time All-Big 12 pick and a two-time All-America selection. A senior with a 4.0 grade point average, Ikard is one of only 13 men to be named a 2013 Big Man on Campus at Oklahoma, an honor reserved for those among the best in academics, campus participation, leadership and community service.
- Ryan Alderman, a team captain at Temple University that has started for two years at wide receiver. A 2013 National Football Foundation Scholar Athlete candidate, Alderman has taken part in a number of charitable activities and has worked as a volunteer to benefit the Susan G. Komen foundation.
- Eric Soza, starting quarterback at Texas-San Antonio, is an active speaker for FCA in schools in the San Antonio area, has worked day and night to build a home for a Wounded Warrior and has served meals to wounded veterans. The senior signal caller has also worked with pediatric cancer patients, Special Olympics and has volunteered at youth camp for underprivileged athletes.
- Carey Spear, Vanderbilt’s starting kicker that was named an All-SEC performer in 2012 and earned a spot on the SEC Academic honor Roll in 2013. For the last two years, Spear has actively contributed to community outreach projects in Nashville, guided by Crosspoint Church. Those projects include mentoring women struggling with addiction and adopt-a-block cleanup efforts.
The winner of the Wuerffel Trophy will be announced in December, and the voting committee for the Wuerffel Trophy winner is comprised of select national media, retired head coaches, past winners and the Wuerffel Trophy Board of Directors. The award will be presented at the All Sports Association’s annual banquet on Feb. 7, 2014.
To view the “Meet the Finalists” video, please click HERE