Penn State senior John Urschel was named the winner of the William V. Campbell Trophy as college football’s premier scholar-athlete at the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame dinner Tuesday night in New York.
Urschel, a two-time All-Big Ten first-team guard, carries a 4.0 GPA and is pursuing a second master’s degree in math education. He also teaches two upper-level math courses this semester.
“First and foremost, I would like to thank my teammates, coaches, professors and family,” Urschel said, “for the love and support I’ve received over these last five years as a student-athlete at Penn State.
“Without them I can say with certainty that none of this would be possible. Words cannot describe how much this means to me.”
Urschel, one of 16 finalists from all of college football’s divisions, became the first Penn State player to receive the award since its inception in 1990. He’ll receive a $25,000 postgraduate scholarship.
He’s the first player from a Big Ten school to win the Campbell Trophy since 2003. Danny Wuerffel, Peyton Manning, Chad Pennington and Tim Tebow are among the previous Campbell winners.
“I cannot help but reflect on all the great student-athletes who have come before me,” Urschel said, “paving the way for what I and my fellow athletes often take for granted.
“This marriage of sport and university is a phenomenon that’s unique to our country and often the subject of great debate. However, it is something that I’m extremely grateful to be a part of.”
Urschel arrived at Penn State in 2009 as a little-known recruit from Williamsville, N.Y., a suburb of Buffalo. He was redshirted his first season, played as a reserve in 2010-11 and started all 24 games the last two seasons.
“I would like to thank Penn State for wasting their second-to-last scholarship in the class of 2009,” he said, “on an unheralded two-star 260-pound offensive lineman from Buffalo, N.Y.
“I am so grateful for that scholarship; grateful for the opportunity to play in front of 108,000 of the best fans in college football every Saturday; grateful to earn both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in the process and to be able to teach and inspire college students in the classroom.”