DURHAM, N.C. – The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Football Hall of Fame announced on Thursday that Duke University redshirt senior offensive tackle Perry Simmons has been named one of 16 recipients of the 2013 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Award, presented by Fidelity Investments, a leading provider of not-for-profit workplace retirement savings plans in higher education.
The 16 honorees also comprise the list of finalists for the 2013 William V. Campbell Trophy, endowed by HealthSouth, which recognizes an individual as the absolute best scholar-athlete in the nation. Selected from a nationwide pool of 171 exceptional semifinalists from among all NCAA divisions and the NAIA, Simmons is joined in the class by Trevor Adams (Northwest Missouri State), John Arena (Johns Hopkins), Max Bullough (Michigan State), Derek Carr (Fresno State), Gabe Ikard (Oklahoma), Spencer Long (Nebraska), Niccolo Mastromatteo (Coastal Carolina), Jeff Mathews (Cornell), James Morris (Iowa), Aaron Murray (Georgia), Eric Soza (Texas-San Antonio), John Urschel (Penn State), Dustin Vaughan (West Texas A&M), Tony Washington (Appalachian State) and Eric Westerberg (Augustana).
Simmons owns a 3.83 grade point average as a civil engineering major. He was a 2012 Capital One Academic All-America second team selection, has earned three All-ACC Academic Football Team honors and four ACC Academic Honor Roll citations.
A native of Raleigh, N.C., Simmons has started an ACC-leading 45 consecutive games at right tackle, played over 3,200 snaps in his career and has blocked for a Duke offense that ranks fifth in the ACC with 32.9 points per game, sixth with 420.4 yards per game and tied for third with just 10 sacks allowed. His performance has helped Duke jump out to a 6-2 start and a 2-2 record in the ACC, granting the Blue Devils bowl eligibility for the second straight year and back-to-back seasons with at least six wins for the first time since the 1988 and 1989 seasons.
Simmons becomes the fourth Duke player to earn the honor, joining Mike Diminick (1988), Bill Obremskey (1983) and Sean Renfree (2012).
“We are extremely proud to present the 2013 National Scholar-Athlete Class,” said NFF President & CEO Steven J. Hatchell. “With an average GPA of 3.79, these young men have a discernible and unrelenting commitment to excellence in the classroom as well as on the field. This class represents all that is right about college football, and the members serve as living examples of our mission to build leaders through football.”
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); Southern California Athletics Director Pat Haden (USC); actor Mark Harmon (UCLA); West Virginia Athletics Director Oliver Luck (West Virginia); 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, Doug Flutie (Boston College) and Tim Tebow (Florida).
“Jack Ford and the NFF Awards Committee did an excellent job in selecting this year’s National Scholar- Athletes,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning, whose sons Peyton (Campbell winner) and Eli were NFF National Scholar-Athletes in 1997 and 2003, respectively. “Selected from a record number of semifinalists, this group should be extremely proud of their accomplishments, as they have undoubtedly distinguished themselves as some of the best football players and students 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.”
Each member of the 2013 National Scholar-Athlete Class will travel to New York City to be honored December 10 during the 56th NFF Annual Awards Dinner at the Waldorf=Astoria where their accomplishments will be highlighted in front of one of the most powerful audiences in all of sports. They each receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship, and one member of the class will also be announced live at the event as the 24th recipient of the William V. Campbell Trophy, which recognizes an individual as the absolute best scholar-athlete in the nation. The recipient of the Campbell Trophy will also be honored the NFF Board of Directors meeting and at a reception hosted by the New York Athletic Club on Wednesday, December 11.
Named in honor of Bill Campbell (the chairman of Intuit, a former player and head coach at Columbia University, and the 2004 recipient of the NFF’s Gold Medal), the award comes with a 25-pound bronze trophy and a $7,000 increase in postgraduate funds for a total scholarship of $25,000. A total distribution of $300,000 in scholarships will be awarded that evening, pushing the program’s all-time distributions to more than $10.4 million.
In 2011, the NFF and Fidelity Investments launched a multi-year initiative between the two organizations to celebrate the scholar-athlete ideal and a joint commitment to higher education. As part of the initiative, Fidelity became the first presenting sponsor ever in the history of the NFF National Scholar- Athlete Awards program. Fidelity also helped launch the NFF Faculty Salutes Initiative, which recognizes the contributions of the faculty athletics representatives at each of the institutions with an NFF National Scholar-Athlete. As part of the initiative, the NFF will present each of the faculty representatives with a plaque and a $5,000 check from Fidelity Investments to support the academic support services for student-athletes at each school.
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 171 semifinalists for the award were announced on October 2 (names listed on the following page), 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 to the presentation of the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards and the William V. Campbell Trophy, the 56th NFF Annual Awards Dinner will include the induction of the 2013 College Football Hall of Fame Class and the presentation of several major awards, including the organization’s highest honor, the NFF Gold Medal, and the NFF Distinguished American Award.
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