By Alan Paape
Every year the National Football Foundation (NFF) gives out the National Scholar Athlete Award to one college football player in the nation.
In order to be nominated for this award the athlete must have a GPA of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first team player or significant contributor, and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship.
This year one of St. Xavier’s own was nominated for this prestigious award. Senior Wide Receiver of the Cougar football team, Shane Zackery was nominated by the Sports Information Director at St. Xavier University Rob Huizenga.
On September 27, 2012, Zackery was selected as one of the 147 semifinalists, throughout all divisions of football, for this award. At the time Zackery was one of the nine players selected as a semifinalist for this award from the NAIA.
On October 24, 2012 the news became even better for Zackery as he found out that he was selected as one of the fifteen finalists for the NFF National Scholar Athlete Award. Zackery is also the only player from the NAIA selected as a finalist.
“Coach Fem was the first person to officially tell me that I was selected as a finalist. My initial thought after finding out I was a finalist was that it wasn’t that big of a deal, but when I saw the list of other finalists; I was speechless” said Zackery.
Some of the other notable finalist for this year’s award are Matt Barkley of the University of Southern California, Rex Burkhead of Nebraska, Patrick Ward of Northwestern University, and Manti Te’o of the University of Notre Dame.
On December 4, 2012, the fifteen finalists will be presented with an $18,000 scholarship to assist with post graduate studies at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City.
“I am looking forward to seeing Manti T’eo, because of what he has been through this year. I have gained so much respect for him” said Zackery.
Zackery is currently majoring in business management with an emphasis in marketing and finance. Zackery also carries a 3.709 grade point average on a 4.00 scale.
Zackery is the first ever student-athlete in St. Xavier University’s twenty year football history to be selected as a finalist for this award.
“The Saint Xavier University football team is just more than athletes. We have a lot of great student athletes on our team and being selected as finalist shows how dedicated we are to our education” said Zackery.
Zackery leads the Cougars in almost every receiving category this season. Through nine games this season Zackery leads the team with 52 receptions, 786 yards, 9 touchdowns, and an average of 87.3 receiving yards per game for the Cougars.
In the first game of the season against Olivet Nazarene University, Zackery had fourteen receptions, 237yds and two touchdowns. Zackery also had a big game in the Cougars matchup last Saturday against the number one team in the nation the Marian University. Zackery hauled in four catches for 101 yards and a touchdown.