Crittenden a Finalist for College Football’s Premiere Scholar-Athlete Award

By ERIC TABER

Montana Grizzly-Student Athlete and football team captain Derek Crittenden has been announced by The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame as one of 12 finalists for the prestigious William V. Campbell Trophy.

Known as the “Academic Heisman” award, The Campbell Trophy recognizes an individual as the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation.

As a finalist, Crittenden, a defensive end with a 4.0 GPA in chemistry, will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship as a member of the 2015 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class.

He will travel to New York City for the 58th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 8, where one member of the class will be declared the winner of the 26th William V. Campbell Trophy and have his postgraduate scholarship increased to $25,000.

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Derek Crittenden. Photo courtesy of MontanaAthletics.

“It’s an enormous honor to be among the highest achieving players across the nation and I’m excited to meet them all in New York,” said Crittenden.

“Being named a finalist for the Campbell Trophy is a reflection of my individual effort, but more importantly it’s a representation of the awesome support that I’ve had from coaches and professors over the past few years. My goal is to help teammates and kids across Montana realize that just because you play football, doesn’t mean you can’t excel in the classroom.”

Crittenden maintains the highest GPA of the 12 finalists, and is the only Rhodes Scholarship candidate in the group.

Selected from a nationwide pool of 135 exceptional semifinalists from among all NCAA divisions and the NAIA, the 12 class members are:

2011 William V. Campbell Trophy Finalists SCHOLAR-ATHLETE…POSITION…SCHOOL…GPA…MAJOR

E.K. Binns…OG…Navy…3.43…Economics

Jacoby Boren…C…Ohio State…3.83…Sustainable Plant Systems Jake Brendel…C…UCLA…3.43…Economics Taveze Calhoun…DB…Mississippi State…3.51…Interdisciplinary Studies Derek Crittenden…DE…Montana…4.00…Chemistry

Ty Darlington…C…Oklahoma…3.91…Arts & Sciences Jordan Dobrich…LB…Nevada…3.85…Mechanical Engineering Spencer Drango…OT…Baylor…3.71…Finance Blake Frohnapfel…QB…Massachusetts…3.65…Finance/Economics

Jordan Italiano…S…Kent State…3.98…Biochemistry Hank Spencer…LB…Mount Union (Ohio)…3.90…Computer Science Jason Vander Laan…QB…Ferris State (Mich.)…3.77…App. Math & Actuarial Science

“All of us at Grizzly Athletics are very proud of Derek and his accomplishments,” said Kent Haslam, Montana Director of Athletics. “He epitomizes what it means to be a great student-athlete, a great leader, and a great human being. We hope his commitment to excellence and worth ethic inspires future generations of Grizzlies.”

Crittenden becomes Montana’s fourth National Scholar-Athlete, following in the footsteps of Dave Dickenson (1995), Joshua Branen, (1997), and Vince Huntsberger (2001).

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Derek Crittenden. Photo courtesy of MontanaAthletics.

Crittenden also finds himself among some of the most elite student-athletes in the history of the game, including former NFL standout Derrick Brooks (Florida State); actor Mark Harmon (UCLA); Robert Morris University President Chris Howard (Air Force); NCAA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Oliver Luck (West Virginia); NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins (Illinois) and Leland Melvin (Richmond); chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament, Billy Payne (Georgia); famed NFL quarterback Steve Young (BYU); and 32 College Football Hall of Famer, including 2015 electees Trev Alberts (Nebraska), Thom Gatewood (Notre Dame) and Dick Jauron (Yale).

The recipient of the Campbell Trophy will also be honored at the NFF Board of Directors meeting and at a reception hosted by the New York Athletic Club on Wednesday, Dec. 9. He will then fly to Atlanta to be recognized during The Home Depot College Football Awards on ESPN at the College Football Hall of Fame on Dec. 10. As part of the NFF’s partnership with the College Football Playoff (CFP), the Campbell Trophy winner will be recognized on the field during the CFP National Championship on Jan. 11, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz.

“The NFF Awards Committee did an excellent job in selecting this year’s National Scholar-Athletes,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning, whose sons Peyton (the 1997 Campbell winner) and Eli were NFF National Scholar-Athletes in 1997 and 2003, respectively.

“Selected from an impressive group of semifinalists, they should be extremely proud of their accomplishments, as they have undoubtedly distinguished themselves as some of the best student-athletes in the country. Each of these men is also a leader in his respective community, and we know that they have only begun to reach their potential.”

For Crittenden to be eligible for consideration, each applicant must have been in his 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 or significant contributor and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship.

2015 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class Highlights

  • 3.76 Average GPA
  • 11-of-12 Team Captains, including four players who have been captains for two or more years
  • 11-of-12 Academic All-Conference Athletes
  • 7-of-12 All-Conference Athletes (including one all-independent selection)
  • 6 Academic All-America Selections (Boren, Crittenden, Darlington, Italiano, Spencer, Vander Laan)
  • 1 Rhodes Scholar Finalist (Crittenden)
  • 4 Players Who Have Already Graduated (Calhoun, Darlington, Drango, Frohnapfel), with three more on track to graduate by this December (Boren, Crittenden, Vander Laan)
  • 4 All-America Picks (Brendel, Drango, Spencer, Vander Laan)
  • 1 Major Award Winner (Vander Laan – Harlon Hill Trophy)
  • 2 Members of National Championship Teams (Boren, Spencer)
  • 5 Members of Conference Championship Teams (Boren, Darlington, Drango, Spencer, Vander Laan)
  • 6 Members of Nationally Ranked Teams* (as of 10/29) (Boren, Crittenden, Darlington, Drango, Spencer, Vander Laan)
  • 7 Offensive Players (Binns, Boren, Brendel, Darlington, Drango, Frohnapfel, Vander Laan)
  • 5 Defensive Players (Calhoun, Crittenden, Dobrich, Italiano, Spencer)

*FBS rankings based on FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll

BIOS FOR THE 2015 NFF NATIONAL SCHOLAR-ATHLETE CLASS, PRESENTED BY FIDELITY INVESTMENTS (In alphabetical order)

E.K. BINNS, OG

UNITED STATES NAVAL ACADEMY

Economics – 3.43 GPA

Head Coach: Ken Niumatalolo

Athletics Director: Chet Gladchuk

Faculty Athletics Representative: Christine Copper

  • 2014 Academic All-District Selection and Dean’s List honoree
  • 2014 First Team All-Independent selection helped Keenan Reynolds set FBS record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback
  • Key cog to offense that ranked second nationally in rushing in 2013 and 2014 and is currently in the top five in 2015
  • Candidate to become a company commander in 2016
  • The Cape Coral, Fla., native becomes the ninth NFF National Scholar-Athlete from Navy

JACOBY BOREN, C

OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY

Sustainable Plant Systems – 3.83 GPA

Head Coach: Urban Meyer

Athletics Director: Gene Smith

Faculty Athletics Representative: John Bruno

  • 2014 Second Team Academic All-American and two-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar
  • Two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection led Buckeyes to a victory in first-ever College Football Playoff National Championship
  • Anchor of an offense that set multiple school records in 2014 and currently leads the Big Ten in rushing and scoring in 2015
  • Team captain regularly visits patients at local hospitals
  • The Pickerington, Ohio, native is the 21st NFF National Scholar-Athlete from Ohio State

JAKE BRENDEL, C

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES

Economics – 3.43 GPA

Head Coach: Jim Mora Jr.

Athletics Director: Dan Guerrero

Faculty Athletics Representative: Michael Teitell

  • Academic All-District and three-time Academic All-Pac-12 honoree
  • Recipient of team’s Academic and Athletic Balance Award and consistent member of Athletics Director’s Honor Roll
  • Two-year team captain and four-year starter twice received All-Pac-12 laurels and was a Freshman All-American in 2012 while leading the Bruins to three straight bowl games
  • UCLA’s 2014 recipient of the N.N. Sugarman Award for leadership served as a peer mentor for children with disabilities
  • Hailing from Plano, Texas, he becomes the ninth NFF National Scholar-Athlete from UCLA

TAVEZE CALHOUN, DB

MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY

Interdisciplinary Studies – 3.51 GPA

Head Coach: Dan Mullen

Athletics Director: Scott Stricklin

Faculty Athletics Representative: Steven Turner

  • The recipient of the 2015 Phi Beta Sigma State of Mississippi Academic Achievement Award is currently pursuing his master’s in education
  • Second Team All-SEC in 2013 after ranking second in conference in interception return yards and currently tied for team lead with two interceptions
  • Team captain and three-year starter led Bulldogs to three bowl games, including a berth in the 2014 Capital One Orange Bowl
  • Member of MSU Football Leadership Committee and active with the Salvation Army and Fellowship of Christian Athletes
  • The Ludlow, Miss., native is the fourth NFF National Scholar-Athlete from Mississippi State

DEREK CRITTENDEN, DE

UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA

Chemistry – 4.00 GPA

Head Coach: Bob Stitt

Athletics Director: Kent Haslam

Faculty Athletics Representative: Dusten Hollist

  • 2015 Rhodes Scholarship candidate with a perfect 4.0 GPA
  • 2015 FCS ADA Academic All-Star, 2014 Second Team Academic All-American and four-time Academic All-Big Sky selection
  • Team captain has played in every game of his career and helped Grizzlies to second round of FCS playoffs in 2013 and 2014
  • Performed more than 100 hours of community service and is forming a “Student-Athletes Against Sexual Violence” initiative at Montana
  • The Whitefish, Mont., native becomes the fourth NFF National Scholar-Athlete from Montana

TY DARLINGTON, C

UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA

Arts & Sciences – 3.91 GPA

Head Coach: Bob Stoops

Athletics Director: Joe Castiglione

Faculty Athletics Representative: Kelly Damphousse

  • First Team Academic All-American and Academic All-Big 12 selection is currently working on his master’s in higher education
  • 2015 recipient of 1A FAR Academic Excellence Award and the Dr. Gerald Lage Award, the Big 12’s highest academic honor
  • Team captain has led the Sooners to three postseason berths, including a win in 2014 Sugar Bowl
  • President of Big 12 Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and OU’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter
  • The Umatilla, Fla., native is the 10th NFF National Scholar-Athlete from Oklahoma

JORDAN DOBRICH, LB

UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA

Mechanical Engineering – 3.85 GPA

Head Coach: Brian Polian

Athletics Director: Doug Knuth

Faculty Athletics Representative: David Croasdell

  • Two-time Academic All-District selection and 2014 Academic All-Mountain West honoree
  • Ranks in top 10 percent of his mechanical engineering class and is a member of Tau Beta Pi honors engineering fraternity
  • First three-year team captain in modern school history led the Wolf Pack to two bowl appearances and was second on team with 85 tackles in 2014
  • Academic Chair of Theta Tau engineering fraternity and member of National Society of Leadership
  • The Magalia, Calif., native becomes the first NFF National Scholar-Athlete from Nevada

SPENCER DRANGO, OT

BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

Finance – 3.71 GPA

Head Coach: Art Briles

Athletics Director: Ian McCaw

Faculty Athletics Representative: Jeremy Counseller

  • First Team Academic All-District and three-time Academic All-Big 12 selection currently working on his MBA
  • 2014 consensus First Team All-American and two-time First Team All-Big 12 honoree heads a Bears offensive line that leads the Big 12 in total offense in 2015
  • Key member of one of the nation’s most prolific offenses the past three seasons while leading the Bears to three bowl berths and two Big 12 titles
  • President of Baylor’s Uplifting Athletes chapter participated in two-week mission trip to Brazil
  • The San Diego native becomes the fourth NFF National Scholar-Athlete from Baylor

BLAKE FROHNAPFEL, QB

UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS

Finance/Economics – 3.65 GPA

Head Coach: Mark Whipple

Athletics Director: Ryan Bamford

Faculty Athletics Representative: Rebecca Spencer

  • Earned his bachelor’s degree in only three years and is currently a full-time MBA student
  • 2014 Distinguished MAC Scholar-Athlete and First Team Academic All-MAC selection
  • 2014 First Team All-MAC selection is just the fourth quarterback in school history to eclipse the 5,000-yard passing mark with 5,379 career passing yards
  • Selected to attend NCAA Leadership Conference and has volunteered with the Boys and Girls Club and the Special Olympics
  • The Stafford, Va., native is the second NFF National Scholar-Athlete from UMass

JORDAN ITALIANO, S

KENT STATE UNIVERSITY

Biochemistry – 3.98 GPA

Head Coach: Paul Haynes

Athletics Director: Joel Nielsen

Faculty Athletics Representative: Kathy Wilson

  • Two-time Academic All-American and a 2014 MAC Distinguished Scholar-Athlete
  • Two-time Academic All-MAC honoree has highest GPA among Kent State football upperclassmen and received Gerald and Victoria Reed Award for hard work and dedication
  • Team captain led Golden Flashes in interceptions and forced turnovers in 2014
  • Participated in Kent State Leadership Academy and earned Green Dot certification to become a violence prevention instructor
  • The Canfield, Ohio, native becomes the first NFF National Scholar-Athlete from Kent State

HANK SPENCER, LB

UNIVERSITY OF MOUNT UNION (OHIO)

Computer Science – 3.99 GPA

Head Coach: Vince Kehres

Athletics Director: Larry Kehres

Faculty Athletics Representative: Scott Mason

  • Second Team Academic All-American and two-time recipient of NCAA Elite 89 Award for having the highest GPA at a championship event
  • Two-year team captain was an Honorable Mention All-American in 2014 and heads unit that leads Division II in total defense while allowing only 4.4 points per game
  • Four-year starter led Purple Raiders to three consecutive Division III national championship games and the national title in 2012
  • Assisted Mount Union’s student support office and volunteered for “Trick or Treat with the Raiders” project
  • The Greencastle, Ind., native is the fourth NFF National Scholar-Athlete from Mount Union

JASON VANDER LAAN, QB

FERRIS STATE UNIVERSITY (MICH.)

Applied Math & Actuarial Science – 3.77 GPA Head Coach: Tony Annese Athletics Director: Perk Weisenburger Faculty Athletics Representative: Kim Hancock

  • 2014-15 Division II Scholar-Athlete of the Year and First Team Academic All-American
  • Reigning Harlon Hill Trophy winner as the top player in Division II and 2014 consensus First Team All-American has led Bull Dogs to 22 consecutive regular-season wins
  • 2014 conference player of the year and three-year captain is the all-time leader in rushing yards by a quarterback at any level of NCAA football
  • Participated in the Hammers & Hearts mission trip to Florida and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes

·      The Frankfort, Ill., native is the second NFF National Scholar-Athlete from Ferris State