Nov. 10, 2006
FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. — The All Sports Association, Inc., announced today the 11 finalists for the 2006 Wuerffel Trophy, a national award that honors a college football player who best combines exemplary community service with outstanding academic and athletic achievement.
The list includes Ohio State senior defensive tackle Joel Penton. Penton, a native of Van Wert, Ohio, and a three-year letterman for the Buckeyes, has played in all 10 games this year, including two starts, for the Buckeyes. In addition to being an outstanding football player, Penton is actively involved in various community service projects and is a member of the Athletes-In-Action.
The award is named after former Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel, who led the Florida Gators to the 1996 national championship, played six years in the National Football League and has received national recognition for his humanitarian and community service efforts with Desire Street Ministries in New Orleans.
“The initial list of nominees was very strong, but the list that it’s come down to is extremely impressive,” said Dennis Chavez, president of the All Sports Association. “It’s the best of the best.
“The caliber of the athletes, as well as the number of Division-I schools participating, is very encouraging,” Chavez added. “More than half of the nominees are from teams that are ranked or have been ranked this season. On this list there are three quarterbacks, who are the leaders of their team. When you consider how much time they have to spend studying film, you wonder how they have time to do all of the other things they do.”
The finalists, who were nominated by their schools’ sports information directors or football liaisons, had to have a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher.
The finalists are:
— Alex Brink, junior quarterback, Washington State
— Will Herring, senior linebacker, Auburn
— Joel Howells, senior placekicker, Northwestern
— Wade Koehl, senior linebacker, Houston
— Tyler Palko, senior quarterback, Pittsburgh
— Joel Penton, senior defensive lineman, Ohio State
— Carl Pendleton, junior defensive tackle, Oklahoma
— Zac Selmon, junior tight end, Wake Forest
— Paul Smith, junior quarterback, Tulsa
— Joe Thomas, senior offensive tackle, Wisconsin
— Dane Todd, senior fullback, Nebraska
A committee that includes 10 prominent Wuerffel Trophy national directors will vote on the finalists and the winner will be announced in the next Month.
The Wuerffel Trophy will be presented to the winner at the All Sports Association’s Awards Banquet in February.
“You always want to be associated with an award that is done well and respectfully. The way the All Sports Association has embraced this award and worked so diligently to select the finalists makes me proud to be a part of it,” Wuerffel said. “The more people hear about this award, the more their enthusiasm grows because it recognizes athletes that care about others.”
CBS and Sporting News Radio broadcaster Tim Brando, one of the national directors, said the idea of honoring a player for more than athletic ability has great merit.
“We live in times where the human spirit is sometimes challenged,” Brando said. “I often times find myself needing to remind fans that the youth of America is lot better than our culture wants to give it credit for being. This is a tremendous way of honoring that thought.
“Danny Wuerffel not only was the best quarterback Steve Spurrier had at Florida, he was also the best human being that played quarterback for Spurrier. That’s what this award encompasses, which I think makes it arguably a greater honor to win.
“Last year, looking over all the candidates, it was by far the most difficult award to choose because every one of them has achieved so much and seemed to be absolute pillars of their community.”