Hillenmeyer wins National Scholar-Athlete award

The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame announced Thursday that it has selected Vanderbilt's Hunter Hillenmeyer as a "National Scholar-Athlete" for 2002.

Hillenmeyer, a senior linebacker from Nashville, is one of just six Division I-A football players to be honored.  The award carries an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship-- the largest of its kind-- and is presented to football players excelling in the areas of scholarship, citizenship and athletic performance.

On the field, Hillenmeyer leads the Southeastern Conference with 97 total tackles, averaging 13.9 per game.   In the classroom, he holds 3.79 grade point average while earning a double major in Economics and Human and Organizational Development.

"I was not expecting to win," said Hillenmeyer.  "I thought it was a tremendous honor to even be nominated for this award. I have worked very hard the last four years and am very proud of this honor."

Hillenmeyer says he has been conditioned to strive for excellence.  "My parents always told me that if you are going to do something, give it your best effort," he says, "so I have tried to do my best in football and academics.  I learned excellent fundamentals at MBA (Montgomery Bell Academy, his high school) and Vanderbilt has allowed me to develop in many ways."

Hillenmeyer is just the fourth Commodore gridder to win this prestigious award and the first since 1989 when another linebacker, Andy McCarroll, was honored.

"This is a tremendous honor for Hunter and for our football program," Vanderbilt Head Coach Bobby Johnson said.  "Hunter exemplifies the best of college football on and off the field.  We are proud of his accomplishments."

Johnson and Director of Athletics Todd Turner will head a Vanderbilt delegation to New York City's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on December 10 for the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame's black tie Annual Awards Dinner and Events.  Included in this program is the induction of six new members into the Football Hall of Fame.

Hillenmeyer has been a regular volunteer for the Special Olympics and Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

Other I-A honorees include Bradie James, LSU; Jon Stinchcomb, Georgia; Kliff Kingsbury; Texas Tech; Chris Kelsay, Nebraska; and Kyle Eaton, Oklahoma State.  There were eight other student-athletes honored from Divisions I-AA, II, III and NAIA.

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