IRVING, Texas – East Carolina senior wide receiver Zay Jones has been named one of 12 finalists for the 2016 William V. Campbell Trophy presented by Fidelity Investments the National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame announced Tuesday afternoon. The trophy recognizes an individual as the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation.
Jones’ remarkable accomplishments rank him among the most decorated student-athletes in East Carolina history. One of only three Pirates ever with more than 3,000 receiving yards, he becomes the first NFF National Scholar-Athlete in school annals.
A 2014 First-Team Academic All-District selection, Jones is a two-time member of the American Athletic Conference All-Academic Team. Boasting a 3.56 GPA as a communications major, the Austin, Texas, native is also a two-time Conference USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll selection and a six-time ECU Director of Athletics Honor Roll member.
A two-year team captain, Jones already ranks second in NCAA FBS history with 355 career receptions and second in Pirates’ history with 3,627 yards. His 19 career receiving touchdowns are also in the top five at East Carolina, and he has 29 career kickoff returns for 598 yards. A three-year letterman, Jones was named a 2015 Second Team All-AAC honoree and ECU’s Team MVP. After helping the Pirates to consecutive bowl berths, including a victory in the 2013 Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl, he earned the 2014 Rock Roggeman Heart-of-the-Pirate Award as the team’s most inspirational player. As a freshman, he was named ECU Player of the Year for receiving and was a member of the C-USA All-Freshman Team.
This season, Jones currently leads the FBS with 114 receptions (14.2 rpg) while his 136.8 receiving yards per game average and 1,094 total reception yards stand second nationally. In eight games, he has caught four touchdown passes and registered six double-triples (catches-yards), which include a career-best 22 receptions for 190 yards at South Carolina on Sept. 17. His 22 grabs against the Gamecocks are the most by a NCAA FBS receiver in a game this season and was one shy of an all-time NCAA FBS record.
Jones has devoted more than 75 hours of community service during his career, including work with Aces for Autism, SportWorks Ministries, Ronald McDonald House, Maynard Children’s Hospital, National Food Bank, Dwayne Harris Football Camp and ECU Ladies Football Clinic. He has also participated in on-campus trash pick-ups, blood drives and elementary school visits, and he served as co-master of ceremonies for the 2015 ECU Goldspys (ECU’s version of the ESPYs). Jones’ father, Robert, was a Consensus First-Team All-America selection for the Pirates in 1991.
The 12 finalists will each 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 the winner of the 27th William V. Campbell Trophy and have his postgraduate scholarship increased to $25,000.
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. 7. 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. 8. Finally, 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. 9, 2017, in Tampa, Fla.
Nominated by their schools, which are limited to one nominee each, candidates 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 156 semifinalists for the award were announced on Sept. 28, and 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.
In addition to the presentation of the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards and The William V. Campbell Trophy, the 59th NFF Annual Awards Dinner will include the induction of the 2016 College Football Hall of Fame Class and the presentation of several major awards, including the organization’s highest honor, the NFF Gold Medal.