IRVING, Texas - Gallaudet University senior linebacker Nico Santiago (Moorestown, N.J.) was selected as one the best and brightest from the college gridiron as announced by The National Football Foundation (NFF) and College Hall of Fame. Santiago is one of 169 semifinalists honored from the Football Bowl Subdivision, Football Championship Subdivision, Division II, Division III and NAIA. Santiago joins the company of other great players from top college programs such as left tackle Arie Kouandjio of the Alabama Crimson Tide and placekicker Josh Lambo of the Texas A&M Aggies. From the 169 semifinalists the NFF Awards Committee will name 16 for the prestigious 2014 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Award, presented by Fidelity Investments. The 169 candidates also comprise the list of semifinalist for the 2014 William V. Campbell Trophy, which recognizes an individual as the absolute best scholar-athlete in the nation.
"This is an incredible honor for Nico and for Gallaudet University. He has been a leader in the community and has done everything we have asked of him on defense and special teams and he has done it at a high level," said Gallaudet head football coach Chuck Goldstein. "Nico definitely deserves this honor and represents the University in a positive manner, both on and off the field."
Santiago, a senior co-captain, is a four-year letterwinner in football at Gallaudet. He was named to the ECFC All-Academic team the past two seasons (2012, '13) and has made Dean's List all six semesters he has been here. Santiago, a physical education major, is slated to graduate in May 2015.
"These 169 impressive candidates truly represent the scholar-athlete ideal," said NFF Chairman Archie Manning whose sons Peyton (Campbell Trophy winner) and Eli were named NFF National Scholar-Athletes in 1997 and 2003, respectively. "It is important for us to showcase their success on the football field, in the classroom and in the community. This year's semifinalists further illustrate the power of our great sport in developing the next generation of influential leaders."
Nominated by their schools, which are limited to one nominee each, candidates for the awards 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 exceptional football ability as a first team player or significant contributor, and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship. 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.
"The NFF would like to personally congratulate each of the nominees as well as their schools on this tremendous honor," said NFF President & CEO Steven J. Hatchell. "We are extremely proud to highlight each semifinalist's achievements, which show that football players can balance between academics and athletics at the highest level. There is no question that the NFF Awards Committee will have an incredibly difficult task in selecting the finalists from among this esteemed group."
The NFF Awards Committee will select up to 16 recipients, and the results will be announced via a national press release on Thursday, Oct. 30. Each recipient will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship, and they will vie as finalists for the 2014 William V. Campbell Trophy. Each member of the 2014 National Scholar-Athlete Class will also travel to New York City to be honored Dec. 9 during the 57th NFF Annual Awards Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel where their accomplishments will be highlighted in front of one of the most powerful audiences in all of sports. One member of the class will also be announced live at the event as the winner of the William V. Campbell Trophy.
Previous winners of the Campbell Trophy include Rutgers' Brian Leonard (2006); Texas' Dallas Griffin (2007); California's Alex Mack (2008); Florida's Tim Tebow (2009); Texas' Sam Acho (2010); Army's Andrew Rodriguez (2011); Alabama's Barrett Jones (2012); and Penn State's John Urschel (2013) to name a few of the college football standouts that have received this prestigious award since 2007.
Santiago is one of 34 nominees selected from Division III, and he is the only nominee that hails from the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC). Gallaudet is the only football program from D.C. represented among the 169 candidates.
Gallaudet has only had four other NFF National Scholar-Athlete semifinalists over the years. The first came in 1992 when Jeffrey Kurz was bestowed the great honor while the second came four years ago when Caleb Hinton was recognized for his academic and athletic prowess followed by Denton Mallas (2012) and Nicholas Elstad (2013).
About NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards The NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards, presented by Fidelity Investments, was established in 1959 as the first initiative in history to honor scholar-athletes with post-graduate scholarships for their combined athletic, academic and leadership abilities.
About the NFF & College Football 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, the NFF Scholar-Athlete Awards, presented by Fidelity Investments, Play It Smart, the NFF Hampshire Honor Society, the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Alumni Association, and scholarships of more than $1.3 million for college and high school scholar-athletes. For more information, please visit www.footballfoundation.org.
2014 NFF NATIONAL SCHOLAR-ATHLETE CANDIDATE NOTES
- 169 nominations
- 3.65 Average GPA
- 44 nominees with a 3.8 GPA or better
- 97 Team Captains
- 86 All-Conference Picks
- 27 Academic All-America Selections
- 19 All-America Selections
- 62 Nominees from the Football Bowl Subdivision
- 37 Nominees from the Football Championship Subdivision
- 25 Nominees from the Division II
- 34 Nominees from the Division III
- 11 Nominees from the NAIA
- 80 Offensive Players
- 67 Defensive Players
- 22 Special Teams Players
Gallaudet's NFF National Scholar-Athlete Award Semifinalists
2014: Nico Santiago
2013: Nicholas Elstad
2012: Denton Mallas
2011: Caleb Hinton
1992: Jeffrey Kurz