By Chuck Pool (cpool@Rice.edu) -
Rice senior running back Darik Dillard is one of 156 college football players to be named a semifinalist for the 2016 William V. Campbell Trophy which recognizes an individual as the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation.
Created and administered by The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) and presented by Fidelity Investments® , the Campbell Trophy is named for honor of the late Bill Campbell, former chairman of Intuit, a former player and head coach at Columbia University and the 2004 recipient of the NFF's Gold Medal.
Dillard is the Owls active career leader in rushing (2,008) and touchdowns (24) and has combined with his older brother, former All-American Jarett Dillard, to set an NCAA record for combined touchdowns by siblings (84). He became the ninth Owl to top 2,000 career yards in Rice’s 43-35 loss to North Texas adding two touchdowns to his career total, to move into a tie for seventh on the Rice career touchdown list.
He carries a 3.3 GPA while majoring in Mechanical Engineering and is also one of the most active Owls in the community. He participates each year in Rice’s International Student Football Clinic and Challenger League Football Game in addition to visiting various hospitals in the Houston Medical Center, volunteering at his church and mentoring students at Alief ISD. He also helped coordinate local activities for INROADS National Day of Service for Boys and Girls Clubs of America.
Dillard’s summers have been no less hectic. In addition to a class load and workouts for the upcoming season, Dillard interned at UTC Aerospace Systems, a NASA contractor where he worked on projects related to supporting in International Space Station (ISS).
Each semifinalist for the Campbell Trophy was nominated by their school, which are limited to one nominee each. Candidates for the awards must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of 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. 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.
The NFF will announce 12-14 finalists on Nov. 1, and each of them will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship as a member of the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class, presented by Fidelity Investments. The finalists will travel to New York City for the 59th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 6, where their accomplishments will be highlighted in front of one of the most powerful audiences in all of sports. At the event, one member of the class will be declared in dramatic fashion the winner of the 27th William V. Campbell Trophy and have his postgraduate scholarship increased to $25,000.
The Campbell Trophy is a 25-pound bronze trophy and increases the amount of the recipient's grant by $7,000 for a total postgraduate scholarship of $25,000. This year's postgraduate scholarships will push the program's all-time distribution to more than $11.1 million.
In 2011, the NFF and Fidelity Investments launched a multi-year initiative between the two organizations to celebrate the scholar-athlete ideal and a joint commitment to higher education. As part of the initiative, Fidelity became the first presenting sponsor of the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards program. In 2014, Fidelity became the presenting sponsor of the Campbell Trophy. Fidelity also helped launch the NFF Faculty Salutes, which recognize the contributions of the faculty athletics representatives at each of the institutions with an NFF National Scholar-Athlete. As part of the initiative, the NFF presents each of the faculty representatives with a plaque, and Fidelity donates $5,000 for the academic support services at each school with a total of $380,000 distributed from 2011-15.
The past recipients of the William V. Campbell Trophy include: Air Force's Chris Howard (1990); Florida's Brad Culpepper (1991); Colorado's Jim Hansen (1992); Virginia's Thomas Burns (1993); Nebraska's Rob Zatechka (1994); Ohio State's Bobby Hoying (1995); Florida's Danny Wuerffel (1996); Tennessee's Peyton Manning (1997); Georgia's Matt Stinchcomb (1998); Marshall's Chad Pennington (1999); Nebraska's Kyle Vanden Bosch (2000); Miami (Fla.)'s Joaquin Gonzalez (2001); Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.)'s Brandon Roberts (2002); Ohio State's Craig Krenzel (2003); Tennessee's Michael Munoz (2004); LSU's Rudy Niswanger (2005); Rutgers' Brian Leonard (2006); Texas' Dallas Griffin (2007); California's Alex Mack (2008); Florida's Tim Tebow (2009); Texas' Sam Acho (2010); Army West Point's Andrew Rodriguez (2011); Alabama's Barrett Jones (2012); Penn State's John Urschel (2013); Duke's David Helton (2014); and Oklahoma's Ty Darlington (2015).