IRVING, Texas — The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame announced the 176 semifinalists for the 2021 William V. Campbell Trophy, college football’s premier scholar-athlete award, on Wednesday, Sept. 29. The list of candidates boasts aa 3.66 average GPA, with more than two-thirds of the semifinalists having already earned their bachelor’s degrees.
Each school nominates one student-athlete, with Appalachian State tabbing super senior wide receiver Thomas Hennigan.
Candidates for the awards must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of playing 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, according to the NFF. 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.
Celebrating its 32nd year, the Campbell Trophy® recognizes an individual as the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary leadership.
2021 William V. Campbell Trophy Semifinalists Notes
- 176 nominations
- 3.66 average GPA
- 105 nominees who have already earned their bachelor’s degrees
- 12 nominees who have earned a master’s degree
- 5 nominees with a perfect 4.0 GPA
- 52 nominees with a 3.8 GPA or better
- 65 nominees with a 3.7 GPA or better
- 34 Academic All-America selections
- 107 captains
- 97 All-Conference picks
- 22 All-Americans
“These 176 impressive candidates truly represent the scholar-athlete ideal,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning, whose sons Peyton and Eli were named NFF National Scholar-Athletes in 1997 and 2003, respectively. “For more than 60 years, the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards have honored more than 800 college football players who have been successful on the football field, in the classroom and as leaders in the community. We are excited to celebrate the 32nd year of the Campbell Trophy, which honors the best of the best. This year’s semifinalists further illustrate the power of our great sport in developing the next generation of influential leaders.”
The NFF will announce 12-14 finalists on Oct. 27, and each of them will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship as a member of the 2021 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class Presented by Fidelity Investments. The finalists will travel to the ARIA Resort & Casino Las Vegas for the 63rd NFF Annual Awards Dinner Presented by Las Vegas on Dec. 7, where their accomplishments will be highlighted in front of one of the most powerful audiences in all of sports. Live during the event, one member of the class will be declared as the winner of the 32nd Campbell Trophy and have his postgraduate scholarship increased to $25,000.
“The NFF would like to personally congratulate each of the nominees as well as their schools and coaches on their tremendous accomplishments,” said NFF President and CEO Steve Hatchell. “We are extremely proud to highlight each semifinalist’s achievements, showcasing their ability to balance academics and athletics at the highest level. The NFF Awards Committee will have an incredibly difficult task in selecting the finalists from this outstanding group of candidates.”
The Campbell Trophy was first awarded in 1990, adding to the program’s prestige. Past recipients include two Rhodes Scholars, a Rhodes Scholar finalist, two Heisman Trophy winners and seven first-round NFL draft picks. Named in honor of the late Bill Campbell, the trophy has been prominently displayed inside its official home at the New York Athletic Club since 2013, and the winner is honored each year during a special luncheon at the venue.
An All-Ivy League player and the captain of Columbia’s 1961 Ivy League championship team, Campbell found his true calling after an unlikely career change at age 39 from Columbia football coach to advertising executive. His ability to recruit, develop and manage talented executives — all lessons learned on the gridiron — proved to be a critical component of his ability to inspire his business teams to the highest levels of success.
Campbell joined the NFF Board in 1978 while he was still a coach at Columbia, and he continued to serve with distinction until his passing in 2016. In 2004, the NFF recognized Campbell’s contributions and accomplishments by presenting him with the NFF Gold Medal, the organization’s highest honor. In 2009, the NFF renamed college football’s premier scholar-athlete award as the William V. Campbell Trophy in his honor.
Here is a breakdown of the 2021 Campbell Trophy semifinalists by division and position:
• 79 nominees from the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision
• 36 nominees from the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision
• 15 nominees from NCAA Division II
• 39 nominees from NCAA Division III
• 7 nominees from the NAIA
• 95 offensive players
• 64 defensive players
• 17 special teams players