(Editor's note: University of Montana athletics release)
IRVING, Texas -- Record-breaking Montana linebacker Dante Olson has been named as one of 12 finalists for the prestigious William V. Campbell Trophy, the National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame announced Wednesday.
Known as the "Academic Heisman" award, The William V. Campbell Trophy® Presented by Mazda, recognizes an individual as the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation for his combined academic success, football performance, and exemplary leadership.
As a member of the NFF's 2019 National Scholar-Athlete Class and one of 12 finalists for the Campbell Trophy, Olson will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship, and will travel to New York City for the 62nd NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Tuesday, Dec. 10, where his 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 the winner of the 30th William V. Campbell Trophy and have his postgraduate scholarship increased to $25,000.
Selected from a nationwide pool of 185 exceptional semifinalists from among all NCAA divisions and the NAIA, the 12 finalists are:
|Spencer Blackburn||C||Eastern Washington||3.69||Economics & Accounting|
|Rodrigo Blankenship||PK||Georgia||3.71||Digital Broadcast Journalism|
|Jordan Fuller||S||Ohio State||3.60||Business Marketing|
|Alex Goettl||LB||Minnesota State Mankato||3.93||Biomedical Sciences|
|Adam Holtorf||C||Kansas State||3.92||Agribusiness|
|Michael Lohmeier||DE||Carnegie Mellon (PA)||4.00||Business Administration|
|Dante Olson||LB||Montana||3.90||Business Admin./Management|
|Jelani Taylor||S||Cornell||3.96||Hotel Administration|
|Casey Toohill||LB||Stanford||3.71||Political Science|
|Jon Wassink||QB||Western Michigan||3.96||Accounting|
"All of us at the University of Montana are proud of Dante and his accomplishments. He is an outstanding ambassador for Grizzly Athletics and epitomizes what it means to be a student-athlete," said Kent Haslam, Montana Director of Athletics.
"I add my congratulations to Dante and my gratitude to the National Football Foundation for recognizing his hard work in the classroom, on the football field, and in the community."
Montana head coach Bobby Hauck also added his congratulations.
"We're very proud of Dante Olson, and certainly he is deserving of this national recognition. We think he is a great example of the young men we have in our locker room and sets a great example for others like him on our team around our campus," said Hauck.
Olson now becomes Montana's fifth NFF National Scholar-Athlete, following in the footsteps of Dave Dickenson (1995), Joshua Branen, (1997), Vince Huntsberger (2001), and Derek Crittenden (2015).
Olson is one of only three school record holders, three All-Americans, and one of just six players from a nationally ranked team amongst the 12 finalists.
"We are extremely proud to announce the finalists for this year's Campbell Trophy® Presented by Mazda," said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. "These young men have an unrelenting commitment to excellence in all aspects of their lives, and they represent all that is right in college football. They serve as living examples that Football Matters®, and we are excited to honor their hard work and accomplishments with postgraduate scholarships."
Nominated by their schools, which are limited to one nominee each, candidates for the Campbell Trophy® Presented by Mazda must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of playing 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 NFF Awards Committee did an excellent job in selecting this year's National Scholar-Athletes," said NFF Chairman Archie Manning, whose sons Peyton (Campbell Trophy® recipient) and Eli were NFF National Scholar-Athletes in 1997 and 2003, respectively. "Selected from an impressive group of semifinalists, they should be extremely proud of their accomplishments, as they have undoubtedly distinguished themselves as some of the best student-athletes in the country. Each of these men is also a leader in his respective community, and we know that they have only begun to reach their potential."
Following the NFF Annual Awards Dinner, the recipient of the 2019 Campbell Trophy® Presented by Mazda will be honored at several other prestigious events. On Wednesday, Dec. 11, a luncheon will be held in his honor at the New York Athletic Club (NYAC), the official home of the trophy since 2013. From there, he will travel directly to Atlanta for ESPN's "The Home Depot College Football Awards" at the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame on Thursday, Dec. 12, where he will be interviewed live during the show. Finally, he will travel to New Orleans to be honored on the field during the College Football Playoff National Championship at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Jan. 13.
The Campbell Trophy® has previously honored two Rhodes Scholars, a Rhodes Scholar finalist (Montana's Derek Crittenden), two Heisman Trophy winners and six first-round NFL draft picks.
MORE ON OLSON
DANTE OLSON, LB – UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA
3.90 GPA - Business Administration/Management
Head Coach: Bobby Hauck| Athletics Director: Kent Haslam
Faculty Athletics Representative: Charles Palmer
A First Team All-American on the field with a 3.90 GPA in the classroom, Dante Olson is a shining example of what a scholar-athlete can achieve. The Medford, Oregon, native is Montana's fifth NFF National Scholar-Athlete.
A 2018 FCS ADA Academic All-Star, Olson is on track to graduate in December with a degree in business administration/management and a minor in entertainment management. A three-time Academic All-Big Sky Conference selection, he has been named to the President's Honor Roll four times and the Dean's List three times. Olson is also a two-time recipient of Montana's William Robertson Memorial Scholarship.
This season, Olson has guided Montana to a No. 8 national ranking while leading the Grizzlies and the Big Sky with 99 tackles, which ranks second in the FCS. He also leads the team with six tackles for loss while boasting one sack, one interception, and one forced fumble. The team captain's 317 career tackles rank seventh all-time in Grizzly history.
A First Team All-American in 2018, Olson led all of Division I (FBS and FCS) with 13.7 tackles per game while his 151 tackles established a new single-season Montana record. He was named the 2018 FCS Defensive Player of the Year by Phil Steele while finishing in the top three for the FCS Buck Buchanan Award. The Phil Steele 2018 Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year has twice earned all-conference honors, including first-team accolades as a junior and second-team recognition as a sophomore. The 2018 team MVP has twice been named the Grizzlies' Hauck Family Special Teams Player of the Year in his career (2016 and 2017).
A member of the 2019 AFCA Good Works Team, Olson has served as a pen-pal mentor for nearly two years to a class of underprivileged children in Northern California, encouraging them to pursue a college education as part of the No Excuses University program. He has also helped organize Montana's "Be the Match" bone marrow registration drive, and he is an avid anti-bullying advocate, speaking to numerous students and providing his own testimony through the "Fields of Faith" initiative.