Witt Named NFF Scholar-Athlete

Patrick Witt. (photo by Kevin Warhola)
Patrick Witt. (photo by Kevin Warhola)

Senior QB Finalist For Campbell Trophy


DALLAS, TexasPatrick Witt (Wylie, Texas), Yale's senior quarterback, will be wearing his tuxedo around New York City on Dec. 6 when the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame has its 54th annual awards dinner. Witt has been named one of the 16 scholar-athlete winners, which carries an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship, and is a finalist for the 2011 William V. Campbell Trophy, the highest academic honor bestowed on a football player.

Witt, picked among 127 candidates for NFF honors after nominations were taken in September, has a 3.91 GPA in history and has been Yale's starting QB the last three seasons. Already the career leader at Yale with 463 completions, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound signal-caller ranks second in both attempts (785) and yards (5,042) and is fourth with 31 TD passes.

The team's offensive leader is one of 11 Yale student-athletes to be honored at this NFF event. The last was defensive back Casey Gerald '09, who spoke on behalf of the 16 recipients at the event hosted by the famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan.  

He was elected to the team's leadership council soon after becoming the first transfer (Nebraska) student at Yale to start immediately at QB since World War II (when transfers were common). Witt has written for the Yale Daily News, is a member of the Intercultural Affairs Council and has done some prison ministry work.

Witt, recently named a semifinalist for the Mitchell Scholarship, has been endorsed by his school as a 2011 Rhodes Scholar candidate. He also won the Francis Gordon Brown Prize, one of the school's highest undergraduate accolades, awarded to the student in the junior class in Yale College who most closely approaches the standards of intellectual ability, high manhood, capacity for leadership and service to the University set by Francis Gordon Brown, who captained Yale Football's "Team of the Century" in 1900.

The NFF's National Scholar-Athlete program, launched in 1959, is the first initiative in history to award scholar-athletes postgraduate scholarships for their combined athletic, academic and leadership abilities. This year's class members finds themselves in good company, as past National Scholar-Athletes include former NFL standout Derrick Brooks (Florida State); actor Mark Harmon (UCLA); NASA astronaut Leland Melvin (Richmond); former Dateline NBC anchor Stone Phillips (Yale); chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament, Billy Payne (Georgia); famed NFL quarterback Steve Young (BYU); and Heisman Trophy winners Terry Baker (Oregon State), Gary Beban (UCLA), Doug Flutie (Boston College) and Tim Tebow (Florida).

"The 2011 National Scholar-Athlete Class represents all that is right about college football," said NFF Chairman Archie Manning, whose sons Peyton (Campbell winner) and Eli were NFF National Scholar-Athletes in 1997 and 2003, respectively. "They have displayed the same competitive fire to win in the classroom that has distinguished them as some of the best football players in the country. In addition, each has found time to give back with an impressive list of leadership roles in their respective communities. Our goal in recognizing them is that future football players will be inspired to follow their example."

Witt and the Bulldogs travel to Columbia this Saturday for a noon kickoff that airs live on the YES Network. The Campbell Trophy, which is connected to this week's opponent, is named in honor of Bill Campbell, the chairman of Intuit, former player and head coach at Columbia University and the 2004 recipient of the NFF's Gold Medal. His award comes with a 25-pound bronze trophy and a $25,000 post-graduate scholarship.

Nominated by their schools, which are limited to one nominee each, candidates must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of eligibility, have a grade point average 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. The 127 semifinalists for the award were announced on Sept. 29, and 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.

In addition, the awards dinner includes the induction of the 2011 College Football Hall of Fame Class and the presentation of several major awards, including the organization's highest honor, the Gold Medal, to former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and the Distinguished American Award to world-renowned heart surgeon Dr. Archie Roberts.


(In alphabetical order)

Punter, University of Georgia
Telecommunication Arts - 3.62 GPA
Head Coach: Mark Richt
Athletics Director: Greg McGarity

The son of College Football Hall of Fame Georgia Bulldog Kevin Butler, Drew Butler has created his own legacy between the hedges with an impactful career in the classroom, community and on the gridiron. He is Georgia's 12th NFF National Scholar-Athlete.

Hailing from Duluth, Ga., Butler was a CoSIDA/ESPN First Team Academic All-American in 2010, and a CoSIDA/ESPN First Team Academic All-District selection in 2009. A four-time SEC Academic Honor Roll honoree, he has qualified for the Athletic Director's Honor Roll every semester during his college career, as well as the President's List, the Dean's List and the Academic Round Table. He also claimed a Ramsey Academic Scholarship and a HOPE Scholarship.

In his first season as the team's full-time punter in 2009, Butler won the Ray Guy Award as the nation's top punter by averaging a nation's best 48.1 yards on 56 punts while pinning 19 attempts inside the 20-yard line. A consensus First Team All-American, he became just the third Bulldog to lead the country in punting, and his 48.1-yard average was the nation's best since Travis Dorsch of Purdue averaged 48.4 yards per punt in 2001. In 2010, Butler was named a Second Team All-American by the Associated Press while averaging 44.5 yards per punt on 50 attempts with 19 downed inside the 20. This season, the Ray Guy Award Watch List member ranks eighth nationally and first in the SEC with a 46.1 yard average on 26 punts for the 22nd-ranked 5-2 Bulldogs. A member of Georgia's All-Decade Team, Butler is the nation's active career leader with an average of 46.1 yards per punt.

A team captain for special teams in 2010, Butler is also a Unity Council member on the team. He regularly volunteers at the Bulldogs Battling Breast Cancer annual golf tournament, Habitat for Humanity, the Boys and Girls Club and Camp Sunshine. He also serves as a reader at several Athens-area elementary schools and works with the local service group Camp Kudzu.

Quarterback, Michigan State University
Kinesiology - 3.68 GPA
Head Coach: Mark Dantonio
Athletics Director: Mark Hollis

Arguably one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in Michigan State history, Kirk Cousins is a cornerstone of Mark Dantonio's football program. Cousins becomes the fifth NFF National Scholar-Athlete in Michigan State history, and the first since Steven Wasylk earned the honor in 1993.

Cousins, a Holland, Mich., native is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection. He has qualified for the Dean's List or the President's List every semester of his college career.

Just the second three-time captain in the history of Spartan football, Cousins vaulted himself into Spartan lore on October 15 when he directed the Spartans to a 28-14 victory over Michigan, becoming the first Michigan State signal caller to defeat their intrastate rivals three times in a career. With his effort to beat No. 6 Wisconsin last weekend, capped by a 44-yard scoring heave as time expired, he became the winningest quarterback in school history. As of Oct. 22 in the 2011 season, Cousins had connected on 136-of-204 passes (averaging a Big Ten-best 19.4 completions per game) for 1,607 with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions. Last season, he led the Spartans to an 11-2 record, No. 14 national ranking in both polls and a share of the Big Ten title. In 2011, the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award semifinalist has guided the 11th-ranked Spartans to a 6-1 record and first-place standing in the Big Ten's Legends Division. An Honorable Mention All-Big Ten selection in 2010, Cousins completed 226-of-338 passes (66.9 completion percentage) for 2,825 yards for 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions (a 150.7 passing efficiency rating), all of which ranks among the top six single-season marks in school history. For his career, Cousins is 592-of-913 passing for 7,422 yards with 52 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.

Cousins was chosen among all Big Ten players to give the annual players' address at the conference's football media days, which became a YouTube sensation with over 140,000 views. A participant in the Spartan Buddies program, Cousins volunteers in the pediatric ward at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing and is active in Athletes in Action sports ministry. He has participated in numerous reading initiatives and was named to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team in 2010. Cousins received the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award and Michigan State's Clarence J. Underwood, Jr. Sportsmanship Award in 2010.

Quarterback, Delta State (Miss.) University
Chemistry - 4.00 GPA
Head Coach: Ron Roberts
Athletics Director: Jeremy McClain

One of the greatest all-around student-athletes in Division II, Micah Davis is a record-breaking quarterback that carries a perfect record in the classroom. He becomes Delta State's second NFF National Scholar-Athlete after Michael Eubanks received the honor in 2007.

Davis graduated summa cum laude with a perfect 4.0 GPA in 2010 and is currently enrolled in Delta State's MBA program. An NCAA Elite 88 Award winner, he is a two-time member of the Academic All-Gulf South Honor Roll and the Athletic Director's Academic Hall of Fame. A recipient of the Ben Branch Scholarship, Davis attended the New England Science Symposium at Harvard University. The President's List honoree is also a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, Phi Theta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies.

A top candidate for the Harlon Hill Trophy, Davis ranks eighth in Division II, averaging 311.4 yards of total offense per game. He has connected on 210-of-337 passes for 2,575 yards (the fourth-most passing yards in the nation) for 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions with 70 rushes for 128 yards and eight touchdowns, leading the Statesmen to a 8-1 mark and a No. 1 ranking by D2Football.com this season. In 2010, Davis led Delta State to the NCAA Division II National Championship game while setting single-season school records for passing yards (4,097) and total offense (4,289) with 33 touchdown passes and seven scoring rushes. A team captain in 2010 and 2011, Davis holds an 18-5 record as a starter and is on pace to finish second in school history in passing yardage and total offense.

The recipient of the 2010 National Championship Leadership Award, Davis has read to elementary school children in Cleveland, Miss., and Florence, Ala., and he has volunteered with Relay for Life. He is a member of the American Chemistry Society and the Student-Athlete Advisory Council. He has participated in Habitat for Humanity and visited the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children in Jackson, Miss.

Offensive Guard, United States Naval Academy
Mechanical Engineering - 3.91 GPA
Head Coach: Ken Niumatalolo
Athletics Director: Chet Gladchuk

A three-year letterman, John Dowd has helped propel Navy into the national spotlight while also setting an example for younger students and excelling academically. He is the school's eighth NFF National Scholar-Athlete and first since 1999.

A native of Staten Island, N.Y., Dowd carries a 3.91 GPA as a mechanical engineering major. He was a CoSIDA/ESPN First Team Academic All-American in 2010, only the fifth First Team selection in Navy history, and is on pace to become the school's first two-time First Team Academic All-American. Dowd was also a CoSIDA/ESPN Second Team Academic All-American in 2009.

Dowd has been an anchor on one of the country's most unstoppable rushing offenses throughout his career at Navy. The Midshipmen rank third in the country this season, averaging 325.7 rushing yards per game. With Dowd's help, Navy finished sixth nationally in rushing in 2010 and fourth in 2009, while Ricky Dobbs set an NCAA record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in consecutive years during that span. He has aided the Midshipmen to a 29-18 record in his career, including a 10-4 finish and a victory over Missouri in the Texas Bowl in 2009. Navy captured the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy during Dowd's freshman and sophomore seasons, and the Midshipmen have enjoyed a perfect record against Army during his career.

In addition to his efforts in the classroom and on the gridiron, Dowd also devotes a significant amount of time in various community outreach initiatives through Navy Athletics.

Linebacker, Northwestern State University
Scientific Inquiry - 3.85 GPA
Head Coach: Bradley Dale Peveto
Athletics Director: Greg Burke

Rising from a walk-on to an all-conference player, Elqutub has demonstrated the grit, dedication and determination it takes to become a successful football player, student and leader in the community. He becomes the third NFF National Scholar-Athlete to represent Northwestern State, and the first since 1999.

A 2010 CoSIDA/ESPN First Team Academic All-District selection and FCS Academic All-Star, Elqutub is a member of Northwestern State's Louisiana Scholars' College and a Presidential Honors Award recipient from 2008-11. The First Team Academic All-Conference pick has also won NSU's Excellence in Research Award and is a member of the Alpha Epsilon Delta, Phi Kappa Phi and Blue Key honor societies.

With 69 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, one sack, one forced fumble, four quarterback hits and two pass breakups, Elqutub earned Honorable Mention All-Southland Conference honors in 2010 and helped lead the Demons to play for a share of the league title after a winless 2009 season. He was also honored with the Gary Reasons Award as Northwestern State's outstanding linebacker. This season, the Katy, Texas native has posted 29 stops, three tackles for loss and six quarterback hurries in seven games. In 2009, he won the Chris Waddell Memorial Award as the walk-on who best espouses the qualities of athletic achievement and earned the Wild Demon Award for special teams performance.

One of just 11 players from FCS, Division II, Division III and NAIA chosen to the 2011 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, Elqutub was named the 2010-11 Newman Civic Fellow, a program that honors inspiring college student leaders who have shown an investment in finding solutions to the challenges facing communities throughout the country. The Southland Conference's Steve McCarty Citizenship Award winner in 2010, he has represented the league three times at the NCAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee national convention.

Running Back, University of South Dakota
Psychology - 3.81 GPA
Head Coach: Ed Meierkort
Athletics Director: David Sayler

Chris Ganious is one of the most accomplished rushers in the Football Championship Subdivision and one of the top scholars in all of college football. He is South Dakota's third NFF National Scholar-Athlete and first since 1992.

Named a 2010 CoSIDA/ESPN Second Team Academic All-American, Ganious is a two-time FCS ADA Academic All-Star and a two-time First Team Academic All-Great West Conference pick. An eight-semester member of the Dean's List, he was named the USD Psychology Department's Outstanding Junior in 2009.

A two-time First Team All-GWC honoree, he was the league's second-leading rusher in 2010 and led the conference in 2009. He currently ranks sixth among all FCS active rushers and third in school history with 2,760 yards and fifth among active players with 538 career carries. The Houston, Texas native also led the club in rushing as a redshirt freshman in 2008 and was named the team's Most Valuable Freshman. In 2011, Ganious has rushed 90 times for 360 yards and one touchdown with six receptions for 47 yards through eight games.

Currently serving as the co-president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Ganious was South Dakota's student representative at the NCAA National Student-Athlete Leadership Conference, and a member of the Gender Equity Oversight Committee on Title IX. A volunteer for Children's Home and Aid Rice Center, Ganious is a frequent nursing home visitor. He has also served on South Dakota's athletics director search committee.

Quarterback, Colorado School of Mines
Mechanical Engineering - 3.91 GPA
Head Coach: Bob Stitt
Athletics Director: Tom Spicer

Clay Garcia is among the best in every activity he tackles - proven by his near-perfect GPA in mechanical engineering or as a finalist for the 2010 Harlon Hill Trophy. He becomes Colorado School of Mines' fourth NFF National Scholar-Athlete and first since 1974.

Hailing from Alamosa, Colo., Garcia is a unanimous two-time First Team Academic All-Rocky Mountain Conference pick and was a CoSIDA/ESPN First Team Academic All-American in 2010. He was named the RMAC Football Academic Player of the Year that same year, and he has qualified for the Dean's List every semester of his college career. A member of the Tau Beta Pi honorary fraternity, Garcia graduated summa cum laude with a degree in mechanical engineering, and he is pursuing a graduate degree in material mechanics.

Garcia currently ranks sixth in Division II with 2,329 passing yards, completing 204-of-331 attempts with 16 touchdowns and six interceptions for the 6-2 Orediggers. An Honorable Mention All-American and one of nine finalists for the Harlon Hill Trophy in 2010, Garcia ranked sixth nationally with 4,066 passing yards, set a school single-season record with 567 pass attempts and tied the school record with 39 touchdown passes. He was named First Team All-Region and a First Team All-Colorado performer by the NFF Colorado Chapter. He also holds a 139.1 career passer rating.

He has completed internships with Venoco, Inc., and Suncor Energy; helped design and build a fuel-cell driven car and completed an LED conversion analysis for the city of Golden, Colo. A four-year volunteer for Children's Hospital Toy Drive, he is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Mines Graduate Student Association and American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Quarterback, Northern Illinois University
Business Management - 3.65 GPA
Head Coach: Dave Doeren
Athletics Director: Jeff Compher

A dynamic playmaker on the field, Chandler Harnish is one of the top students at Northern Illinois University, and a leader in the community. He becomes the third NFF National Scholar-Athlete in school history.

A three-time Academic All-MAC honoree, Harnish was named a Victory Scholar in NIU's Academic Excellence Program. He was also chosen as a school representative for NIU's College of Business. Harnish has twice been selected as the MAC Scholar-Athlete of the Week.

A four-year starter, Harnish is on track to become the only quarterback in school history to lead the Huskies to four bowl games. Harnish currently ranks 14th nationally in total offense, connecting on 135-of-215 passes for 1,697 yards with 12 touchdowns and four interceptions while rushing 94 times for 738 yards and eight scores. He became just the 11th player in FBS history to pass and rush for 200 yards when he threw for 203 yards and added a career-high 229 rushing yards in a win over Western Michigan on October 15th of this year. Harnish was named a First Team All-MAC performer in 2010 when he lead the Huskies to a school-record 11 wins, a MAC West championship and a victory in the uDrove Humanitarian Bowl over Fresno State. With career marks of 585-of-941 passing (62.2 percent) for 7,425 yards with 52 touchdowns and 24 interceptions (a 141.58 passer rating) while rushing 438 times for 2,342 yards and 21 touchdowns, Harnish ranks among the top two in all major career passing and total offense school records, and nationally he is among the top 20 in all active career leaders for passing and total offense.

Harnish organized and ran Northern Illinois' women's football clinic; has served as a guest speaker at numerous youth football and school groups; and conducted a football camp at an area school last summer. The winner of the 2010 uDrove Humanitarian Award, he often visits underprivileged children and local retirement homes, and helps conducts clothing drives at a local battered women's shelter.

Defensive Back, Kansas State University
Finance - 3.57 GPA
Head Coach: Bill Snyder
Athletics Director: John Currie

Tysyn Hartman has quickly become a pioneer of a Kansas State football revival. He becomes the Wildcats' fourth NFF National Scholar-Athlete, and the first since 1996, while helping lead the team to its best season in more than a decade.

Hailing from Wichita, Kan., Hartman is a two-time CoSIDA/ESPN Academic All-District honoree and a three-time Academic All-Big 12 scholar. He graduated in three and a half years with a degree in finance, qualifying for the Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll every semester of his college career. Hartman has also won the Gold Star for Academics, Kansas State's top football academic award.

With 31 tackles, two interceptions, two passes defended and one forced fumble in seven starts, Hartman has aided the eighth-ranked Wildcats to their first 7-0 start since 1999 and highest BCS ranking since 2003. An Honorable Mention All-Big 12 selection in 2009, he ranked second in the league in passes defended that season. For his career, Hartman, a team captain as a junior and a senior, has posted 220 tackles and nine interceptions.

A two-year member of Kansas State's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Hartman has volunteered with the Adopt-a-Family initiative and the Special Olympics. A regular visitor to a community retirement center in Manhattan, he has participated in the Reach to Achieve program with a local elementary school, and he has helped collect donations for the homeless during Wildcats basketball games.

Offensive Lineman, University of South Florida
Business Management - 3.86 GPA
Head Coach: Skip Holtz
Athletics Director: Doug Woolard

South Florida's first-ever NFF National Scholar-Athlete, Chaz Hine is one of the greatest stories of success in the Bulls short but growing history.

Hine, a native of Lithia, Fla., is a two-time member of the Big East All-Academic Team and he was a CoSIDA/ESPN Academic All-District selection in 2010. A member of USF's Honors College, he won the team's Scholar-Athlete Award and the NFF Tampa Chapter's College Student-Athlete Award. A four-time Dean's List member, Hine was named "Most Remarkable" in the USF College of Business out of more than 150 applicants. Hine, who plans to study business administration in graduate school, is a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma and Golden Key honor societies.

A former walk-on, Hine has climbed the Bulls' depth chart to play in 39 games and start in 29 of the Bulls' last 30 contests. Hine has pushed South Florida to 3,352 yards of total offense, which ranks 16th nationally. The Bulls currently rank second in the Big East in rushing (196.7 yards per game); rank second in passing yards (282.1 yards per game) and total offense; and place third in scoring offense with an average of 34.7 points per outing. Hine, who played guard his first three years before switching to center in 2011, has helped South Florida to a 28-18 record and three consecutive bowl victories during his career.

An accomplished opera singer, Hine has served as the male lead in musicals such as Les Miserables, Hello Dolly, South Pacific and Grease. He has also performed at USF Women's Club, the Temple Terrace Chamber of Commerce and leads congregational signing at Bell Shoals Church of Christ in Brandon, Fla. Hine is a founding member of the Student Coalition Against Homelessness and Poverty and a member of the Disciples for Life campus ministry. He has also participated in arts and crafts with the patients at Shriner's Hospital for Children.

Linebacker, Purdue University
Movement & Sport Science - 3.96 GPA
Head Coach: Danny Hope
Athletics Director: Morgan Burke

A four-year starter for the Boilermakers, Joe Holland has been a bedrock for Purdue while excelling in the classroom. He becomes school's third NFF National Scholar-Athlete and first since Drew Brees in 2000.

With a sterling 3.96 GPA in movement and sport science, Holland has recorded only one "B" in his entire college career. A three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, he is also a three-time CoSIDA/ESPN Academic All-District selection and a Second Team Academic All-American in 2010.

With 284 career tackles, Holland ranks 14th among the nation's active career leaders, and he will soon rank among the top 20 tacklers in Purdue history. The 2011 Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch List honoree has never made fewer than 73 tackles in a season, ranking third or higher on the club all four seasons of his career. He currently leads the team with 54 tackles, and he has also posted 3.5 tackles for loss, half a sack, two pass breakups and two passes defended. For his career, Holland has totaled 20.5 tackles for loss, four sacks and one interception.

An Indianapolis native, Holland volunteers weekly at a local retirement home, participates as an active member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, assists with the "Reading is Leading" initiative and annually donates blood to the American Red Cross. He has also volunteered at Riley's Children's Hospital Dance Marathon and as a camp counselor for special needs children and adults.

Wide Receiver, Washington State University
Zoology - 3.61 GPA
Head Coach: Paul Wulff
Athletics Director: Bill Moos

A four-year starter at wide receiver, Jared Karstetter is quickly building a legacy of success in all phases of life. He becomes the fifth NFF National Scholar-Athlete to represent Washington State.

Hailing from Spokane, Wash., Karstetter earned Pac-10 All-Academic First Team honors in 2010 and Second Team honors as a sophomore in 2009. A three-time WSUCougars.com Student-Athlete of the Week, he is a President's Honor Roll member, a member of the WSU Athletics All-Academic Team from 2008-10, and he was named a Cougar Academic Top 50 Scholar-Athlete for 2010-11. Karstetter is a member of the WSU Honors College and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. He was also a CoSIDA First Team All-District honoree in 2010.

Quickly climbing Washington State's record book, Karstetter ranks eighth in school history with 136 career grabs, and he is tied for seventh with 16 touchdown catches. In 2011, he places third on the squad with 30 receptions for 304 yards and three touchdowns for the Cougars. A two-time Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 pick, Karstetter grabbed 62 passes for 658 yards with seven touchdowns as a junior, and hauled in 38 passes for 540 yards and six scores as a sophomore.

Karstetter, a zoology major who intends to become a dentist, is in the process of submitting a senior thesis study on the correlation between neck strength and concussions among athletes. He has also served as a microbiology lab intern where he performed gel electrophoreses and protein purification. Karstetter is a peer academic counselor at WSU, a frequent visitor at Shriner's Children's Hospital, a Reading Buddies and Hoopfest volunteer and an assistant with Butch's Bash Christmas party for local children.

Linebacker, United States Military Academy
Mechanical Engineering - 4.14 GPA
Head Coach: Rich Ellerson
Athletics Director: Boo Corrigan

Standing among our nation's future military leaders, Andrew Rodriguez is perhaps one of the most impressive of them all. He becomes Army's 14th NFF National Scholar-Athlete and first since 1999.

Currently No. 3 out of 1,052 cadets in his class at West Point, the Alexandria, Va., native carries a 4.14 GPA in mechanical engineering. He posted an "A+" grade in all five academic courses during the Spring 2010 semester. A five-time Dean's List honoree, he was named a CoSIDA/ESPN First Team Academic All-District honoree in 2009, and he was named the Scholar-Athlete of the Game versus Navy during that season.

In seven starts, Rodriguez places fourth on the club with 35 tackles while also posting two fumble recoveries, one tackle for loss, one interception, two pass breakups and three passes defended. In all, he has started 18-of-19 career appearances with 120 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack, three interceptions, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and six pass breakups. He led the team with a career-high 85 tackles, two interceptions, five pass breakups, 1.5 tackles for loss and 0.5 sacks as a sophomore in 2009. Rodriguez missed the 2010 season after suffering what was originally thought to be a career-ending back injury, but he has returned to the starting lineup this season.

The son of Commanding General of the U.S. Army Forces Command David Rodriguez, he completed the West Point chain of command detail this summer. An NFF National High School Scholar-Athlete in 2007, Rodriguez was chosen to participate in the West Point Academic Development Program with the U.S. Army in Italy.

Quarterback, Texas A&M University
Biology - 3.63 GPA
Head Coach: Mike Sherman
Athletics Director: Bill Byrne

A versatile athlete that has helped revitalize the Texas A&M football program, Ryan Tannehill has found success at quarterback and wide receiver for the Aggies while maintaining an impressive 3.63 GPA in the classroom. He becomes the school's fifth NFF National Scholar-Athlete and first since 1990.

A three-time First Team Academic All-Big 12 scholar, Tannehill graduated cum laude with a degree in biology and plans to study medicine after his football career is complete. The 2010 CoSIDA/ESPN Academic All-District selection has been named an A&M Athletics Scholar four times; a member of the Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll four times and received the "Outstanding Scholar" designation from Texas A&M for posting a 4.0 GPA.

Tannehill began his career as a record-breaking and all-conference wide receiver before moving to quarterback in the middle of last season. As the signal caller in 2010, he completed 152-of-234 passes for 1,638 yards, 16 touchdowns and six interceptions. His insertion sparked the Aggies to a 6-1 finish, including wins over No. 8 Oklahoma and No. 8 Nebraska, taking Texas A&M to its first New Year's Day bowl game since the 2004 season and first finish inside the AP Top 25 since 1999. The Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award semifinalist currently ranks 11th nationally in total offense, completing 165-of-253 passes for 2,005 yards with 15 touchdowns and six interceptions (a 146.6 passer rating) while rushing 34 times for 215 yards and three touchdowns for the 16th-ranked Aggies. Tannehill, a 2011 finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, is the only player in FBS history with a 400-yard passing game and a 200-yard receiving game to his credit, and the only player to record more than 3,000 passing yards and more than 1,500 receiving yards in his career.

A member of Aggie Athletes Involved, Tannehill has spoken to numerous schools and churches in his community, and he led chapel services for high school quarterbacks attending Texas A&M's summer camp. He also helped lead a fundraiser to purchase Christmas presents for children residing at Twin City Mission in College Station.

Quarterback, Yale University
History - 3.91 GPA
Head Coach: Tom Williams
Athletics Director: Thomas Beckett

Performing at the highest levels on the field and in the classroom, few students can match the academic and athletic excellence achieved by Patrick Witt, who becomes Yale's 11th NFF National Scholar-Athlete.

Endorsed by Yale for both the Rhodes Scholarship and the Mitchell Scholarship, the Atlanta native was a 2010 Academic All-Ivy League selection, and he made the NACDA Academic All-Star Team. An Ivy League Honor Roll member, Witt won the Francis Gordon Brown Prize as the junior who most closely approaches the standards of intellectual ability, high manhood, capacity for leadership and service to Yale. Witt is also a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma International Honor Society.

Twice named the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week this season, Witt has completed 113-of-193 passes for 1,377 yards, and 11 touchdowns with two rushing scores. He led the Ivy League in five statistical categories in 2010: passing yards (2,216), yards per game (246.2), attempts (351), completions (212) and completion percentage (60.4) en route to claiming Second Team All-Ivy League honors. The first transfer student to immediately win the starting quarterback job since before World War II, he became one of just four quarterbacks in Yale history to throw for 400 yards in a single game, which he did against Georgetown on Sept. 18, 2010. He claims 5,042 passing yards and 31 touchdowns in his career as a Bulldog.

Witt served as a summer associate for the Boston Consulting Group in 2011 and at Hedgeye Risk Management in 2010. He writes as a staff reporter for the Yale Daily News; serves on the football team's Leadership Council; and assists as a programming committee member of the Intercultural Affairs Council. A member of Athletes in Action, Witt works as a high school mentor, a youth counselor at Lighthouse Community Boys' Home, and a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, and he has helped at the Safe Haven Homeless Shelter.

Wide Receiver, University of Dubuque (Iowa)
Secondary Education - 3.91 GPA
Head Coach: Stan Zweifel
Athletics Director: Dan Runkle

Head and shoulders the most prolific wide receiver in Division III, Michael Zweifel has used the same work ethic that has produced his on-field success to secure an academic record rivaled by few. He becomes Dubuque's first NFF National Scholar-Athlete.

Hailing from Whitewater, Wis., Zweifel is a Dubuque Spartan Achievement Award recipient and a two-time Academic All-Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference honoree. Named the winner of Dubuque's Presidential Academic Student-Athlete Award for the student-athlete with the highest GPA across all sports, he was honored by Who's Who Among College Students in 2010.

Zweifel comfortably leads the nation in all major receiving categories with 102 grabs for 1,517 yards and 18 touchdowns, putting him on pace to shatter NCAA Division III single-season records. He leads the country in receptions per game by nearly two grabs per outing (12.75), and holds a 40-yard edge over his closest competitor in receiving yards per game (187.63). He is a two-time Second Team All-American, a 2010 D3football.com Senior Classic First Team All-American, a 2009 D3football.com First Team All-West Region, and a three-time All-IIAC honoree. Zweifel led Division III with 152.2 receiving yards per game and placed second with 11.1 catches per game in 2009, and he currently holds nine Dubuque and IIAC records. In one season at Wisconsin-River Falls, Zweifel set six single-season records, including the NCAA record for catches by a freshman with 97 receptions. A team captain as a junior and a senior, Zweifel ranks third among all divisions in career receptions.

Zweifel represented all IIAC athletes at the NCAA Student Leadership Conference, and he annually leads the Spartan football team on a community park clean-up effort. A finalist for the 2010 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, he is the chair of the Senior Gift committee; has facilitated Kid's Athletics Day in the Greater Dubuque community; and has helped with Special Olympian Day on campus.


2011 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class Highlights

  • 3.81 Average GPA
  • 14-of-16 Team Captains
  • 14-of-16 Academic All-Conference Athletes (with two players attending independent schools)
  • 11-of-16 All-Conference Athletes (with two players attending independent schools)
  • Five ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Selections (Butler, Dowd, Ganious, Garcia, Holland)
  • Four All-America Picks (Butler, Garcia, Tannehill, Zweifel)
  • One Rhodes Scholar Nominee (Witt)
  • One National Award Winner (Butler, 2009 Ray Guy)
  • Eight School Statistical Record Holders (Butler, Cousins, Davis, Garcia, Harnish, Tannehill, Witt, Zweifel)
  • Six Members of Nationally Ranked Teams (Butler, Cousins, Davis, Ganious, Hartman, Tannehill)
  • Two Members of National Playoff Teams (Davis, Garcia)
  • 11 Offensive Players (Cousins, Davis, Dowd, Ganious, Garcia, Harnish, Hine, Karstetter, Tannehill, Witt, Zweifel)
  • Four Defensive Players (Elqutub, Hartman, Holland, Rodriguez)
  • One Special Teams Player (Butler)
filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director