Quarterback Kevin Burke, from the University of Mount Union (Ohio), became the first junior to be named recipient of the Gagliardi Trophy tonight in Salem, Va., as the most outstanding football player in NCAA Division III this fall. Sponsored by Jostens and the J-Club of Saint John's University of Minnesota, the Gagliardi Trophy recognizes excellence in athletics, academics and community service.
Three other finalists were on hand at the 21st annual Gagliardi Trophy award ceremony: senior quarterback McCallum Foote from Middlebury (Vt.), senior linebacker Cole Klotz from Wisconsin-Whitewater and senior running back Octavias McKoy from Western Connecticut State.
Burke and Klotz will meet in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl, for the NCAA Division III national championship, at 7 p.m. EST on Friday, Dec. 20, at Salem Stadium. The championship meeting is the eighth in nine seasons between the two schools.
Burke, who is the sixth Gagliardi Trophy recipient from Mount Union, ended the regular season second in Division III in passing efficiency (193.7) and third in points responsible for (234). He enters Friday’s title game with a 29-0 record as a starting quarterback and the opportunity to repeat as a national champion after leading the Purple Raiders to a perfect 15-0 record last season. A business administration major, Burke volunteers with Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Mount Union Relay for Life.
Down 40-35 with 1:38 remaining in the national semifinals to North Central (Ill.) last weekend, Burke completed three passes for 65 yards in 31 seconds, the last from 26 yards out for the go-ahead and eventual game-winning score. He ended the snowy day with 163 yards passing and a game-high 131 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. A multi-dimensional threat, Burke has thrown for 3,514 yards and 44 touchdowns, to seven interceptions, and totaled 1,035 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns in 14 games this season.
Background on the other three 2013 Gagliardi Trophy finalists present for the ceremony, including statistics through the end of the regular season, academic major and community service is listed below.
• McCallum Foote, Middlebury College (Vt.)
6-4, 201 | Senior | Quarterback | Economics
Newton, Mass./Noble and Greenough School
-Division III leader in completions/game (32.4) and second in passing yards/game (345.8)…Capital One Academic All-American…volunteers with Special Olympics and served on leadership team for “Team Impact Program”…also served as a teacher’s assistant in Spain.
• Cole Klotz, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
6-4, 245 | Senior | Linebacker | Cell Physiology
Elm Grove, Wis./New Berlin Eisenhower H.S.
-Leading tackler (70) on defense that finished the regular season second in Division III in scoring defense (8.0 ppg.) and seventh against the run (75.4 ypg.)…2013 WIAC Player of the Year…volunteer engagement includes WIAC Food Drive, local meal program and food pantry.
• Octavias McKoy, Western Connecticut State University
5-10, 191 | Senior | Running Back | Professional Writing
Stratford, Conn./Stratford H.S.
-Division III leader in scoring (17.3 ppg.) and rushing touchdowns (26)…second in all-purpose yardage (206.4 ypg.) and rushing yards (1,715)…set a then-NCAA All-Divisions record with 455 rushing yards Oct. 26…volunteer engagement includes local bone marrow registry drive and road race to benefit the Newtown (Conn.) Police Union.
Trophy candidates are nominated by their college president and the four finalists, as well as the recipient, were selected by a national committee comprised of 38 former small-college football players, business leaders, academicians and sports writers from around the country.
Launched in 1993, the award is named after John Gagliardi, Saint John's legendary Hall of Fame head football coach who retired in November 2012 with 489 career victories, the most in college football history.
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. Running back Scottie Williams from Elmhurst (Ill.) was the 2012 Gagliardi Trophy winner.
Minneapolis-based Jostens is the leading provider of championship rings, trophies and other programs and services that help athletes, organizations and their fans celebrate and remember athletic accomplishments. The company’s products also include school yearbooks and other memory book products and scholastic products such as class rings and graduation products that help people tell their stories, celebrate important traditions and recognize achievements. 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.