|From left to right: Jordan Wilcox, Brett Kasper, Matt Sacia and Nick Holcomb.
Photos by Steve Frommell, d3photpgraphy.com; Springfield athletics; UW-La Crosse athletics
Senior wide receiver Nick Holcomb from UW-La Crosse, senior quarterback Brett Kasper from UW-Oshkosh, junior quarterback Matt Sacia of Wartburg and senior fullback Jordan Wilcox of Springfield are finalists for the 2017 Gagliardi Trophy. The award is presented by Jostens and the J-Club of Saint John’s University.
All-time Gagliardi Trophy winners
Mount Union players have won the Gagliardi Trophy seven times, while St. John's players have won three times and Wesley players have won twice. Here's the full list:
|2016||Carter Hanson||LB||St. John's|
|2014||Kevin Burke||QB||Mount Union|
|2013||Kevin Burke||QB||Mount Union|
|2008||Greg Micheli||QB||Mount Union|
|2003||Blake Elliott||WR||St. John's|
|2002||Dan Pugh||RB||Mount Union|
|2001||Chuck Moore||RB||Mount Union|
|2000||Chad Johnson||QB||Pacific Lutheran|
|1997||Bill Borchert||QB||Mount Union|
|1996||Lon Erickson||QB||Illinois Wesleyan|
|1995||Chris Palmer||WR||St. John's|
|1993||Jim Ballard||QB||Mount Union|
These four finalists will be on hand as the 25th Gagliardi Trophy will be presented on Wednesday, Dec. 13, in Salem, Va., at a banquet kicking off the Division III championship weekend, which culminates in the Stagg Bowl on Friday, Dec. 15. The trophy ceremony will be broadcast by D3football.com.
The Gagliardi Trophy, given annually since 1993, recognizes excellence in athletics, academics and community service. The award is named after John Gagliardi, Saint John's legendary Hall of Fame head football coach, who retired after the 2012 season with 489 career victories, the most in college football history.
Nominations were submitted by schools across the country, and the semifinalists were selected by the J-Club Board of Directors. The Gagliardi Trophy national-selection committee is comprised of 40 former college football players, former Gagliardi Trophy recipients, business leaders, academicians and sports writers from around the country. Each casts a ballot ranking the finalists.
Fans also voted online, and their tally, totaling 17,507 votes, represented the 41st committee member. Senior quarterback Evan Wyse from Trine received the highest number of online fan votes with 3,877.
Nominations were submitted by colleges across the country, and 10 semifinalists were selected by the J-Club Board of Directors. The Gagliardi Trophy national selection committee is comprised of 40 former college football players, former Gagliardi Trophy recipients, business leaders, academicians and sports writers from around the country. Each casts a ballot ranking the finalists.
The trophy design features a sculpture of Gagliardi and a player, representing the teacher-coach and the student-athlete in a one-on-one sideline consultation. Hand-cast in bronze on a polished wood base, the trophy stands nearly two feet tall and weighs approximately 64 pounds. The words "The Gagliardi Trophy presented by Jostens & J-Club” are printed on the acrylic panel behind the figures. The words “Division III 2017 Player of the Year" and "Honoring Excellence in Football, Academics and Community Service" are etched on two panels below the figures.
About the finalists
Nick Holcomb, UW-La Crosse
6-2, 190 | Senior | Wide Receiver | Finance and Management
Germantown, Wis. | Germantown High School
- Had 80 catches and led Division III in receiving yards (1,401) and touchdowns (20), which are each single-season school records…set a school record with 15 receptions for 190 yards and two touchdowns against UW-Oshkosh in 2017…had four games with 10 or more receptions…caught a touchdown reception in nine of 10 regular-season games, and had at least two TD catches in six games…posted a four-touchdown, 263-yard receiving game against Ripon (Wis.)…set a school and WIAC single-game record with five receiving touchdowns against UW-River Falls this fall…volunteers with Veterans Day Breakfast and UW-La Crosse football camps…worked with local high school special needs students teaching life skills…participated in a “Walking School Bus,” leading children to school in the morning.
Brett Kasper, UW-Oshkosh
6-2, 215 | Senior | Quarterback | Supply Chain Management
Two Rivers, Wis. | Two Rivers High School
- Named the 2017 WIAC Offensive Player of the Year for the second time in three seasons…completed 125 of 191 passes for 2,034 yards with 21 touchdowns and four interceptions in nine games…has a .654 completion percentage and a 186.99 pass-efficiency rating…threw for 317 yards and four touchdowns against Wisconsin-La Crosse this season, and passed for 339 yards and three scores against Wisconsin-Whitewater…has a career record of 37-5 in starting all four seasons for the Titans…led Oshkosh to appearance in the 2016 Stagg Bowl…in January 2017, was the first Division III captain of the Allstate AFCA Good Works team…volunteered with Be the Match…his bone marrow matched a girl in need of a transplant, and underwent the life-saving procedure…regularly volunteers with organizations, including Feeding America and Special Olympics.
Matt Sacia, Wartburg
6-2, 195 | Junior | Quarterback | Biology/Pre-Medicine
Eldridge, Iowa | North Scott High School
- Voted the IIAC Offensive Most Valuable Player in 2017…led Knights to fifth undefeated regular season (10-0) in program history…completed 186 of 278 passes for 2,552 yards for 28 touchdowns and only three interceptions…had a school record five-touchdown performance against Nebraska Wesleyan Nov. 11, and tossed four touchdown passes in four other games…ranks seventh in Division III passing efficiency (175.1)…is a two-time All-IIAC selection, in addition to earning Academic All-IIAC honors…serves on the executive team for Wartburg’s Dance Marathon this year, after serving on the at-large committee last year…also volunteers at the annual Unified Sports Day, which is a day of activities with local Special Olympic athletes.
Jordan Wilcox, Springfield
6-1, 225 | Senior | Fullback | Finance
Saratoga Springs, N.Y. | Saratoga Springs High School
- The Pride is averaging 450 yards rushing per game, the top rushing offense in the country at any level…Wilcox leads Division III in yards per rush (8.13), fourth in total rushing yards (1,675) and seventh in rushing touchdowns (19)…has rushed for over 200 yards in four games this season, and has five games with at least three touchdowns…named the NEWMAC Offensive Player of the Year….is 267 rushing yards away from breaking the program’s single-season rushing mark…two-time Liberty League All-Academic honoree…is a NEWMAC Academic All-Conference honoree this season…is involved with Team IMPACT, which supports children with life-threatening and chronic illnesses…has been involved with Be The Match, increasing awareness about bone marrow registry…also has participated in the annual St. Baldrick’s Children’s Cancer awareness event.