Crittenden Named Finalist for ‘Academic Heisman’

Whitefish defensive end among 12 finalists up for top football scholar-athlete in the nation

By Beacon Staff

Derek Crittenden, a Whitefish native and co-captain of the Montana Grizzlies football team, is one of 12 finalists for the prestigious William V. Campbell Trophy, The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame announced Thursday.

Known as the “Academic Heisman” award, The Campbell Trophy recognizes an individual as the top football scholar-athlete in the nation.

Crittenden, a defensive end with a 4.0 GPA in chemistry, will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship as a member of the 2015 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class.

He will travel to New York City for the 58th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 8, where one member of the class will be declared the winner of the 26th William V. Campbell Trophy and have his postgraduate scholarship increased to $25,000.

“It’s an enormous honor to be among the highest achieving players across the nation and I’m excited to meet them all in New York,” stated Crittenden, a 2010 Whitefish High School graduate.

“Being named a finalist for the Campbell Trophy is a reflection of my individual effort, but more importantly it’s a representation of the awesome support that I’ve had from coaches and professors over the past few years. My goal is to help teammates and kids across Montana realize that just because you play football, doesn’t mean you can’t excel in the classroom.”

Crittenden maintains the highest GPA of the 12 finalists and is the only Rhodes Scholarship candidate in the group.

“All of us at Grizzly Athletics are very proud of Derek and his accomplishments,” said Kent Haslam, Montana director of athletics. “He epitomizes what it means to be a great student-athlete, a great leader, and a great human being. We hope his commitment to excellence and worth ethic inspires future generations of Grizzlies.”

Crittenden becomes Montana’s fourth National Scholar-Athlete, following in the footsteps of Dave Dickenson (1995), Joshua Branen, (1997), and Vince Huntsberger (2001).

Selected from a nationwide pool of 135 exceptional semifinalists from among all NCAA divisions and the NAIA, the 12 class members are:

2015 William V. Campbell Trophy Finalists


E.K. Binns…OG…Navy…3.43…Economics


Jacoby Boren…C…Ohio State…3.83…Sustainable Plant Systems


Jake Brendel…C…UCLA…3.43…Economics


Taveze Calhoun…DB…Mississippi State…3.51…Interdisciplinary Studies


Derek Crittenden…DE…Montana…4.00…Chemistry


Ty Darlington…C…Oklahoma…3.91…Arts & Sciences


Jordan Dobrich…LB…Nevada…3.85…Mechanical Engineering


Spencer Drango…OT…Baylor…3.71…Finance


Blake Frohnapfel…QB…Massachusetts…3.65…Finance/Economics


Jordan Italiano…S…Kent State…3.98…Biochemistry


Hank Spencer…LB…Mount Union (Ohio)…3.90…Computer Science


Jason Vander Laan…QB…Ferris State (Mich.)…3.77…App. Math & Actuarial Science

The recipient of the Campbell Trophy will also be honored at the NFF Board of Directors meeting and at a reception hosted by the New York Athletic Club on Wednesday, Dec. 9. He will then fly to Atlanta to be recognized during The Home Depot College Football Awards on ESPN at the College Football Hall of Fame on Dec. 10. As part of the NFF’s partnership with the College Football Playoff (CFP), the Campbell Trophy winner will be recognized on the field during the CFP National Championship on Jan. 11, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz.

“The NFF Awards Committee did an excellent job in selecting this year’s National Scholar-Athletes,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning, whose sons Peyton (the 1997 Campbell winner) 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.”

For Crittenden to be eligible for consideration, each applicant must have been in his 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.

Here’s Crittenden’s resume:

— 2015 Rhodes Scholarship candidate with a perfect 4.0 GPA

— 2015 FCS ADA Academic All-Star, 2014 Second Team Academic All-American and four-time Academic All-Big Sky selection

— Team captain has played in every game of his career and helped Grizzlies to second round of FCS playoffs in 2013 and 2014

— Performed more than 100 hours of community service and is forming a “Student-Athletes Against Sexual Violence” initiative at Montana

— The Whitefish native becomes the fourth NFF National Scholar-Athlete from Montana

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