Oct. 11, 2007
DALLAS - University of Washington receiver Cody Ellis was selected as one of the best and the brightest from the college gridiron today when the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) announced the 153 semifinalists for the 2007 Draddy Trophy, presented by HealthSouth, and the candidates for the NFF 2007 National Scholar-Athlete Awards.
One of college football's most sought after and competitive awards, the Draddy Trophy recognizes an individual as the absolute best in the country for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary community leadership.
"The NFF is extremely proud of this year's group of semifinalists," said NFF President & CEO Steven J. Hatchell. "Their substantial commitment to academic excellence, athletic prowess and community service is commendable, and it is our responsibility to honor them for their dedication on and off the playing field. These players are the greatest illustration of how we hope to build leaders through football."
Nominated by their schools, which are limited to one nominee each, semifinalists 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, and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship. Established to honor former NFF Chairman Vincent dePaul Draddy, a Manhattan College quarterback who developed the Izod and Lacoste brands, the award comes with a 24-inch, 25-pound bronze trophy and a $25,000 post-graduate scholarship.
This year's semifinalists maintain a 3.58 average GPA in diverse majors such as physics and ocean engineering. Sixty-six players have earned all- conference recognition on the field and 106 have served as captains. The offensive line produced the most nominees with 31 candidates. Receivers and linebackers followed with 26 nominees each. Offense outscored the defense with 80 to 53 hopefuls. Twenty special teams aspirants completed the contingent. Nominees hail from all NCAA divisions and the NAIA, including a record 67 contenders from the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A).
The NFF Awards Committee will select and announce up to 15 finalists on Oct. 25. Each finalist will be recognized as part of the 2007 National Scholar- Athlete Class, receiving an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship. The Draddy winner, who will receive a $25,000 postgraduate scholarship, will be announced at the NFF's Annual Awards Dinner on December 4 at the prestigious Waldorf=Astoria in New York City. A total distribution of more than $300,000 in scholarships will be awarded that evening.
Launched in 1959, the NFF scholar-athlete program became the first initiative in history to credit a player for both academic and athletic accomplishments. The Draddy, first awarded in 1990, adds to the program's mystique. Past Draddy winners, including two Rhodes Scholars, a Rhodes Scholar finalist, a Heisman winner and a 3.7 average GPA, are: Chris Howard (Air Force, 1990); John B. Culpepper (Florida, 1991); Jim Hansen (Colorado, 1992); Thomas Burns (Virginia, 1993); Robert Zatechka (Nebraska, 1994); Bobby Hoying (Ohio State, 1995); Danny Wuerffel (Florida, 1996); Peyton Manning (Tennessee, 1997); Matt Stinchcomb (Georgia, 1998); Chad Pennington (Marshall, 1999); Kyle Vanden Bosch (Nebraska, 2000); Joaquin Gonzalez (Miami, 2001); Brandon Roberts (Washington University-Mo., 2002); Craig Krenzel (Ohio State, 2003); Michael Munoz (Tennessee, 2004); Rudy Niswanger (Louisiana State, 2005); and Brian Leonard (Rutgers, 2006).