December 4, 2012

Gagliardi Trophy down to final four

The hardware, which will be presented live on Wednesday night, Dec. 12.
Photo by Ryan Coleman, d3photography.com

Zach Autenrieb from Thomas More, Luke Heinsohn from Washington and Lee, Nate Wara from UW-Oshkosh and Scottie Williams from Elmhurst have been named finalists for the 2012 Gagliardi Trophy given to the most outstanding football player in NCAA Division III by Jostens and the J-Club of St. John's University of Minnesota. The trophy will be presented on Wednesday, Dec. 12, in Salem, Va., at a banquet kicking off a series of Stagg Bowl championship events.

The ceremony will be broadcast by D3sports.com, with Pat Coleman and Frank Rossi anchoring the broadcast and Keith McMillan interviewing each finalist on stage before the winner is announced. Broadcast details will be announced the week of the event.

The Gagliardi Trophy, given annually since 1993, recognizes excellence in athletics, academics and community service. The award is named after John Gagliardi, St. John's legendary Hall of Fame head football coach who retired in November with 489 career victories, the most in college football history.

The final four candidates will be on hand for the banquet. The announcement of the winner and presentation of the trophy will be made at that time.

Background on the 2012 Gagliardi Trophy final four candidates includes statistics through the end of the regular season, academic major and community service:

Zach Autenrieb, Thomas More
Senior DB
Accounting major

National D-III leader with eight interceptions in 2012, two of which were returned for touchdowns; Division III career-best 32 INTs for his career. Honor roll student. Volunteer engagement includes Special Olympics, Relay for Life.

Luke Heinsohn, Washington and Lee
Senior RB/K business administration major

National scoring leader (all divisions) with 180 points (21 TDs); kicked FG in 4-overtime win. Team advanced to the D-III national tournament. Off-field engagement includes American Cancer Society, Bike MS, directing fellowship music program.

Nathan Wara, UW-Oshkosh, senior QB physical education major

Helped team to first-ever playoff berth; threw 22 TDs and 1 INT in 10 regular-season games. Team has advanced to the D-III national semifinals. Member all-conference honor roll. Volunteer engagement includes food pantry, Boys and Girls Club, Habitat for Humanity.

Scottie Williams, Elmhurst, senior RB marketing major

Conference offensive player of the year; second in rushing nationally, seventh in scoring. Academic All-American. Team advanced to the second round of the D-III national tournament. Active with campus interfaith and community service project, church bible school.

Gagliardi Trophy nominations were submitted by the college president at 21 institutions from Vermont to California and Minnesota to Texas. Finalists were determined by a national selection committee composed of 38 former small college football players, business leaders, academicians and sports writers from around the country. Each committee member casts a ballot ranking the ten finalists.

College football fans also voted online; their tally represented one collective ballot. Williams received the highest number of fan votes out of the 20,489 total votes cast online.

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