Final Four Candidates for 2012 NCAA Division III Gagliardi Trophy Announced

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Four finalists invited to trophy presentation December 12 in Salem, Virgina

Zach Autenrieb from Thomas More College, Luke Heinsohn from Washington and Lee, Nathan Wara from Wisconsin-Oshkosh and Scottie Williams from Elmhurst have been named finalists for the 2012 Gagliardi Trophy given to the most outstanding football player in NCAA Division III (D-III) by Jostens and the J-Club of St. John's University of Minnesota. The trophy will be presented on Wednesday, Dec. 12, in Salem, Va., at a banquet kicking-off a series of D-III Stagg Bowl championship events.

The Gagliardi Trophy, given annually since 1993, recognizes excellence in athletics, academics and community service. The award is named after John Gagliardi, St. John's legendary Hall of Fame head football coach who retired in November with 489 career victories, the most in college football history.

The final four candidates will be on hand for the banquet. The announcement of the winner and presentation of the trophy will be made at that time.

Background on the 2012 Gagliardi Trophy final four candidates includes statistics through the end of the regular season, academic major and community service:

Zach Autenrieb, Thomas More College (Kentucky) senior DB accounting major
National D-III leader with 8 interceptions in 2012 (2 returned for TDs); 32 INTs for his career. Honor roll student. Volunteer engagement includes Special Olympics and Relay for Life.

Luke Heinsohn, Washington and Lee University (Virginia) senior RB/PK business administration major
National scoring leader (all divisions) with 180 points (21 TDs); kicked FG in 4-overtime win. Team advanced to the D-III national tournament. Off-field engagement includes American Cancer Society, Bike MS and directing fellowship music program.

Nathan Wara, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh senior QB physical education major
Helped team to first-ever playoff berth; threw 22 TDs and 1 INT in 10 regular-season games. Team has advanced to the D-III national semi-finals. Member all-conference honor roll. Volunteer engagement includes food pantry, Boys and Girls Club and Habitat for Humanity.

Scottie Williams, Elmhurst College (Illinois) senior RB marketing major
Conference offensive player of the year; 2nd in rushing nationally, 7th in scoring. Academic All-American. Team advanced to the second round of the D-III national tournament. Active with campus interfaith and community service project and church bible school.

Gagliardi Trophy nominations were submitted by the college president at 21 institutions from Vermont to California and Minnesota to Texas. Finalists were determined by a national selection committee composed of 38 former small college football players, business leaders, academicians and sports writers from around the country. Each committee member casts a ballot ranking the ten finalists.

College football fans also voted online; their tally represented one collective ballot. Williams received the highest number of online fan votes with 20,489 total online votes.

Six other standout student-athletes were considered for this year’s Gagliardi Trophy:

Nick Driskill, University of Mount Union (Ohio) senior S exercise science major
Safety on D-III’s top defense allowing only 156.7 yards and 4.5 points/game. National Science Foundation Scholar Athlete. Volunteers with Fellowship of Christian Athletes and youth outreach.

McCallum Foote, Middlebury College (Vermont) junior QB economics major
Tops in D-III with 32 completions per game; threw 31 TD passes. Responsible for 24.8 points/game. Dean’s list student. Volunteers with Special Olympics and served as a teacher’s assistant in Spain.

Wyatt Hanus, University of Dubuque (Iowa) senior QB accounting/business marketing major
Conference offense MVP; 9th nationally with 316.5 yards passing/game. Academic all-region. Volunteer engagement includes Special Olympics, shelter for homeless women and children, YMCA.

Curtis James, University of St. Thomas (Minnesota) senior C business administration major
Center on offensive line that allowed only 8 sacks in 2012; 5 teammates had 100-yard rushing games. Off-campus activities include serving as head speech coach at local high school.

Noah Joseph, Union College (New York) senior LB chemistry – sociology major
All-conference league-leader in total tackles; 6 games with double-digit tackles. College scholar athlete as a junior. Volunteers as youth and group home counselor; founded campus speaker program.

Craig Sykes, Heidelberg University (Ohio) senior LB biology major
Play-caller for 11th-ranked scoring defense; had 2 INTs. Academic All-American. Serves students with special needs and as peer tutor.

The Gagliardi 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. Record-setting wide receiver Michael Zweifel from Dubuque was the 2011Gagliardi Trophy winner.

About John Gagliardi
After 489 career victories in his 64 seasons as a head coach at the collegiate level, John Gagliardi announced his retirement on Monday, Nov. 19.

“Seventy years (60 at SJU) is a long time to be doing the same job,” Gagliardi said. “Luckily, I’ve always been blessed with great players, friends, family and support to make it this far."

Gagliardi will remain on staff until his current contract expires June 30, 2013. St. John’s hopes to name a successor later this month.

"Arguably, John Gagliardi has impacted the lives of as many young men as any individual in the history of Saint John's University,” SJU President Dr. Michael Hemesath said. “His legacy of educating young men at Saint John's is one that any coach or professor would envy.

"The kind of loyalty and commitment John showed to Saint John's and his student-athletes is rare and exemplary. It is an example of how John modeled good character and ethical behavior for his student athletes and the community for 60 years."

About Jostens
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 St. John's University J-Club
Founded in 1959, the St. 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. St. John's is a private liberal arts college for men located in Collegeville, Minn.

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