Four finalists have been named for the 2010 Gagliardi Trophy given to the most outstanding football player in NCAA Division III (D-III) by Jostens and the J-Club of Saint John's University of Minnesota. The Gagliardi Trophy, presented annually since 1993, recognizes excellence in athletics, academics and community service. The award is named after John Gagliardi, Saint John's legendary Hall of Fame head football coach who has 478 career victories, the most in college football history.
2010 Gagliardi Trophy finalists (Statistics are through the end of the regular season):
Matt Hoffman, Rowan (N.J.) senior DE from Burlington, N.J. All-conference performer named league’s defensive player of the year. Team leader with 19 tackles for loss and 8 sacks. Ranked 6th nationally with 2.11 tackles for loss/game. Health and exercise science major named Rowan scholar-athlete. Active with various volunteer causes, missed game in ’09 to donate bone marrow.
Ben McLaughlin, Louisiana College senior QB from Pineville, La. National leader in passing yardage with 377/game and TD passes with 42 (13 INTs). QB for nation’s #3 total offense (513.7 yards/game). Ranked 18th in passing efficiency at 159.93. Math (and Health/Phys. Ed.) major now teaching full-time; three-time academic all-conference. Active in Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Kyle Ray, Franklin senior QB from Trafalgar, Ind. Rated #1 in passing efficiency nationally at 193.29 with 32 TDs, 7 INTs; 11th in total offense with 291.3 yards/game. Conference offensive MVP. Led team to its third playoff berth in four years. Dean’s list journalism major. Worked with Habitat for Humanity projects; raised funds for Special Olympics.
Eric Watt, Trine senior QB from Kentland, Ind. Guided team to the second round of the playoffs as nation’s #2 passer (187.2 efficiency rating) with 28 TDs and 5 INTs (top team nationally in turnover margin of +21). QB for #2 team in total offense (515.4 yards/game). Finance major in international business and honor society member. Active with various campus and community volunteer programs.
The Gagliardi Trophy will be presented on Thursday, December 16, in Salem, Va., home of the Stagg Bowl, at a banquet kicking-off the D-III championship weekend. For the first time, the top four vote-getters will be on hand for the banquet; announcement of the winner and presentation of the trophy will be made at that time.
A total of 26 senior football players from around the country were nominated by their college president with letters of recommendation coming from their coach. The final four were selected by a national committee composed of 35 former small college football players, business leaders, academicians and sports writers from around the country. College football fans also voted on-line; their tally represented one collective ballot. Voting took place November 24-30.
The trophy design features a sculpture of Gagliardi and a player representing the teacher-coach and the student-athlete in a classic one-on-one sideline consultation. Hand-cast in bronze on a polished wood base, the trophy stands nearly two-feet tall and weighs 64 pounds. The words “Division III Player of the Year” and "Honoring Excellence in Football, Academics and Community Service" are etched in glass on two panels flanking the figures.
Offensive tackle Blaine Westemeyer of Augustan (Ill.) was the 2009 Gagliardi Trophy winner.
Minneapolis-based Jostens is a provider of products, programs and services that help people tell their stories, celebrate important traditions and recognize achievements. The company’s products include school yearbooks and other memory book products, scholastic products such as class rings and graduation products, and products for athletic champions and their fans. Jostens is a subsidiary of Visant Corporation, a marketing and publishing services enterprise servicing the school affinity, direct marketing, fragrance and cosmetics sampling and educational and trade publishing segments.
About Saint John’s University J-Club
Founded in 1959, the Saint John’s University J-Club is a dues-based booster organization of former Johnnie student-athletes, parents and fans, and plays a key role in support of the SJU varsity programs, intramurals and club sports. Saint John’s is a private liberal arts college for men located in Collegeville, Minn.