Witt Honored by NFF in NYC

Yale QB Featured as Scholar-Athlete

 

NEW YORK, NY – Most American kids dream about playing in the Super Bowl. Young football players should dream about sitting on the dais at the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame Annual Awards Banquet.  Yale senior quarterback Patrick Witt, who watched a who's who of famous former gridiron stars parade around him all day and night on Tuesday, was living a more impressive dream as one of 16 scholar-athletes from all divisions of college football who were finalists for the Campbell Trophy.

The Yale player who owns all the major school passing records mingled among the legends as if he had played the game for 25 years, rather than just completed his senior season for the Bulldogs a few weeks ago.  Witt, a two-time All-Ivy League pick, may have done something more impressive than any of the famous folks wearing a tuxedo last night among the sold-out crowd of 1,600. He was a star player on the field and a super star off it.

He didn't win the Campbell (Andrew Rodriguez, Army), but he was already a big winner. Witt, a Rhodes Scholar Finalist, earned $18,000 toward his post-graduate study by being one of the 16 (only Ivy Leaguer) selected to appear at the Waldorf Astoria last night.  While writing articles for the school paper, interviewing for scholarship programs, reaching out to the community and taking part in other leadership groups, he managed to compete like a Bulldog in the classroom with a 3.91 GPA in history.

"College football is so much more than what you see on the 12 Saturdays in the fall. Each of these guys up here are proving that to be the case. There are countless sleepless nights studying for a big test when you have weights in the morning. These guys have made a commitment to excellence like the men in the Scholar-Athlete classes that have come before us and will come after us," said Witt, sitting with the 15 other scholar-athletes at the Tuesday morning press conference.

The Campbell Trophy is one of college football's most sought after and competitive awards, recognizing an individual as the absolute best in the country for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary community leadership. Witt was clearly deserving of the consideration.

First awarded in 1990 (never to an Ivy Leaguer), the award 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.

One of six quarterbacks named NFF Scholar-Athletes, Witt has been a leader in every way. He has always made time to serve whatever community he's been in– be it prison ministry and speaking at local schools in Nebraska or volunteering in homeless shelters in New Haven. Even while working full time in Los Angeles last summer, Witt helped to build houses for Habitat for Humanity.

He has received numerous awards for his combined efforts this fall like CoSida's Capital One Academic All-District, the Boston Gridiron Club's "Swede" Nelson Award and Yale College's Francis Gordon Brown Prize. He threw passes well enough in 2011 to be honorable mention All-Ivy League and a two-time league offensive player of the week.

So where does he go from here? Witt's college class work is a few days from completion, and his senior essay (on the Civil War) is due next spring. That's four months with no classes.

"I'm going to work out in preparation for the NFL draft and write my essay," said Witt, the first NFF Scholar-Athlete from Yale since Casey Gerald in 2008. "I'm excited to put in the work and get ready for the next step in my football career."

 

Filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director

 

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