"We are extremely proud to award this year's Draddy Trophy to Alex," said NFF Chairman Archie Manning, whose son Peyton claimed the 1997 Draddy Trophy. "He represents the best of the best in collegiate academics and athletics and epitomizes the leadership qualities learned playing our great sport."
Having already graduated magna cum laude with a 3.61 GPA and a bachelor's degree in legal studies, the 2008 Pac-10 Scholar-Athlete of the Year for football is a four-time Academic All-Pac-10 selection currently pursuing a master's in education. In an article by Eric Gilmore of CalBears.com, several of Mack's teammates concurred that it has come to be expected to see the two-time ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District pick "walking around with a book all the time," and acknowledge that Mack "puts in the time to succeed" when it comes to school and football.
Equally impressive, the projected first round NFL Draft pick is a two-time All-Pac-10 pick, one of only three players to be named a unanimous 2007 First Team All-Conference selection en route to earning the Morris Trophy as the conference's top offensive lineman. Named a First Team All- America by The Sporting News in 2007, the Santa Barbara, Calif., native is a finalist for the Rimington Trophy and the leader of an offensive unit that allowed the fewest sacks (24) in the Pac-10 in 2006 and '07. Mack will lead the Golden Bears to face Miami (Fla.) in the Emerald Bowl on Dec. 27.
A member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Mack was the literal poster boy for Cal's "Dancing with the Stars" fundraising event, which raised money for underprivileged children in the San Francisco area. He was selected as a summer guest columnist for the Sporting New Today and has participated in an after-school program with local elementary schools.
Mack follows Je'Rod Cherry (1995) and Donald Pat Newell (1959) as NFF National Scholar-Athletes for the Golden Bears.
Launched in 1959, the NFF scholar-athlete program became the first initiative in history to credit a player for both academic and athletic accomplishments. The centerpiece to the NFF's scholar-athlete program, which has awarded $8.9 million to 708 top athletes, the Draddy Trophy, first awarded in 1990, honors Manhattan College quarterback and former NFF Chairman Vincent dePaul Draddy.
"The NFF mission is to build leaders through football, and the 2008 NFF National Scholar-Athlete class members stand as a testament to that creed," said NFF President & CEO Steven J. Hatchell. "We look forward to supporting the bright futures of each of these fine young men, and we take great pride in holding them out as examples of football's unique ability to build tomorrow's leaders."
Candidates must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of eligibility, have a grade point average of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first team player and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship.
The 2008 Class of NFF National Scholar-Athlete Award Recipients and Draddy Finalists includes:
Andrew Berry - CB, Harvard University
Ryan Berry - QB, South Dakota State University
Chase Daniel - QB, University of Missouri
Brian Freeman - OT, Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.)
Casey Gerald - CB, Yale University
Graham Harrell - QB, Texas Tech University
Quin Harris - LB, Louisiana Tech University
Jeff Horinek - LB, Colorado State University
Ryan Kees - DE, St. Cloud State University (Minn.)
Alex Mack - C, University of California
Ryan McDonald - OL, University of Illinois
Greg Micheli - QB, Mount Union College (Ohio)
Darryl Richard - DT, Georgia Tech
Brian Robiskie - WR, Ohio State University
Louie Sakoda - K/P, University of Utah
Listed in chronological order, past Draddy winners, counting two Rhodes Scholars, a Rhodes Scholar finalist, and a Heisman Trophy winner, include:
Chris Howard (Air Force, 1990 - Leader in Higher Education)
John B. Culpepper (Florida, 1991 - Attorney)
Jim Hansen (Colorado, 1992 - MIT Professor)
Thomas Burns (Virginia, 1993 - Ph.D. Nuclear Engineer)
Robert Zatechka (Nebraska, 1994 - Physician)
Bobby Hoying (Ohio State, 1995 - Real Estate Developer)
Danny Wuerffel (Florida, 1996 - Nonprofit Director)
Peyton Manning (Tennessee, 1997 - NFL Player)
Matt Stinchcomb (Georgia, 1998 - Television Broadcaster)
Chad Pennington (Marshall, 1999 - NFL Player)
Kyle Vanden Bosch (Nebraska, 2000 - NFL Player)
Joaquin Gonzalez (Miami, 2001 - Entrepreneur)
Brandon Roberts (Washington University in St. Louis, 2002 - Medical Student)
Craig Krenzel (Ohio State, 2003 - Real Estate Investment Analyst)
Michael Munoz (Tennessee, 2004 - Nonprofit director and political candidate)
Rudy Niswanger (Louisiana State University, 2005 - Medical Student)
Brian Leonard (Rutgers University, 2006 - NFL Player)
Dallas Griffin (University of Texas, 2007 - MBA Candidate)