"Since 1959, these highly sought after awards have recognized only a chosen few who have excelled above all in the areas of scholarship, citizenship and athletic performance," said National Football Foundation Chairman Jon F. Hanson. "We are pleased to honor these outstanding young men for all of their achievements with an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship."
To be eligible for a National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame
post-graduate fellowship, the nominee must be a senior or graduate student
in his final year of eligibility, have a grade point average of at least 3.0
on a 4.0 scale, have shown superior academic application and performance,
have outstanding football ability as a first team player, and have
demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship.
"The 15 exceptional scholar-athletes we chose this year represent the best
and brightest this nation has to offer on all playing levels," stated Robert
E. Mulcahy III, chairman of the Awards Committee and director of athletics
at Rutgers University. "Each year it seems the talent pool continues to
expand, and our job to select the most deserving individuals gets more
difficult. This year's incredible class is a testament to the hard work of
These scholar-athletes will be recognized at The National Football
Foundation and College Hall of Fame's 46th Annual Awards Dinner on December
9, at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. Also being honored at the
dinner will be the 2003 College Football Hall of Fame class, which will
share the dais with these scholar-athletes.
Each scholar-athlete receives an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship, and that
evening, one will receive the Draddy Trophy as the top scholar-athlete in
the nation, increasing the scholarship to $25,000.
University of Miami (FL)
Terrorizing opposing quarterbacks, Miami's Jonathan Vilma has established
himself as one of the nation's top linebackers. Off the field, his
academics parallel few while his community involvement continues to grow.
A First Team Academic All-America and All-District III selection in 2002,
Vilma is a member of the Provost's and Athletics Director's Honor Rolls and
the UM Dean's List. A two-time Academic All-BIG EAST Conference pick, he
has twice been named an Arthur Ashe Sports Scholar and received the 10th
Annual Walter Kichefski Football Scholarship Endowment Award, presented
annually to the top scholar-athlete in the football program.
A two-time unanimous First Team All-Conference selection, Vilma has led the
team in tackles in each of the last two seasons and was a Butkus Award
(nation's top linebacker) semifinalist in 2002. Anchoring the Miami
defense, Vilma has helped lead the team to a 42-2 record in his tenure,
including the 2001 National Championship. A Bronko Nagurski Award (nation's
top defensive player), Butkus Award, BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year
and First Team All-America candidate, he has amassed 250 career tackles and
20 tackles for a loss.
A motivational speaker at local schools, Vilma has participated in the
Thanksgiving Dinner Delivery, Hall of Champions Dinner, Youth Football
Clinic, Annual DARE Softball Game, Fireman Corporate Challenge and numerous
other charitable events.
2003 National Scholar-Athlete
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