By ERIC TABER
Montana defensive end and Rhodes Scholarship finalist Derek Crittenden is in New York City preparing for the National Football Foundation’s Annual Awards Banquet on Tuesday, Dec. 8, where the senior from Whitefish is one of 12 finalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy, known as the “Academic Heisman.”
A record crowd of over 1,600 is expected at the famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel, which will serve as the backdrop for a morning press conference introducing Crittenden and the 11 other Campbell Trophy finalists, as well as the 58th Annual NFF Awards Banquet that evening.
Both the press conference and the awards banquet will be broadcast live on ESPN3 starting at 7 a.m. MT/9 a.m. ET for the press conference and 6 p.m. MT/8 p.m. ET for the awards banquet.
A star studded event, the awards dinner will be emceed by ESPN’s Mike Tirico, who serves as the play-by-play man for Monday Night Football. Also set to present at the banquet is Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, the 66th U.S. Secretary of State, current Stanford University Professor and member of College Football Playoff Selection Committee and NFF Chairman Archie Manning, among other illustrious guests.
The morning press conference will give media and fans a chance to hear from the NFF Major Award winners, the 2015 College Football Hall of Fame Class and the 2015 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class. The press conference will also include the announcement of the 2015 recipient of the Wuerffel Trophy, the national award that honors the college football player who best exhibits exemplary community service, named after 1996 Campbell Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel, who will present the award.
Crittenden began his trip to New York on Monday, with a trip to Radio City Music Hall for the Christmas Spectacular show and a visit to Rockefeller Center to see the famed Christmas tree along with the 11 other Campbell Trophy finalists.
The 12 Campbell Trophy finalists boast an astounding composite 3.76 grade point average, and 11-of-the-12 serve as their team captain. Other class accolades include four All-Americans, seven All-Conference picks, six Academic All-Americans, and two members of National Championship teams.
Crittenden is the only Rhodes Scholarship finalist of the group, and the only contestant who maintains a perfect 4.0 GPA.
Each Scholar-Athlete, including Crittenden, receives an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship with the Campbell Trophy honoree claiming a grand total of $25,000.
Members of the 2015 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class include:
- E.K. Binns, OG – Navy
- Jacoby Boren, C – Ohio State
- Jake Brendel, C – UCLA
- Taveze Calhoun, DB – Mississippi State
- Derek Crittenden, DE – Montana
- Ty Darlington, C – Oklahoma
- Jordan Dobrich, LB – Nevada
- Spencer Drango, OT – Baylor
- Blake Frohnapfel, QB – Massachusetts
- Jordan Italiano, S – Kent State
- Hank Spencer, LB – Mount Union (Ohio)
- Jason Vander Laan, QB – Ferris State (Mich.)
Should Crittenden win the Campbell Trophy, he will then attend a special reception the day after the Annual Awards Dinner at the famed New York Athletic Club.
The NYAC became the official home of the Campbell Trophy in 2013, and the award is prominently displayed in the NYAC Hall of Fame.