Auburn’s Derick Hall up for 6th annual award
The semifinalists for the sixth annual Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year were recently announced, a group that includes 20 of the nation’s top leaders in college football.
Compiled by a subset of the Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Selection Committee, the semifinalists have all demonstrated a record of leadership by exhibiting exceptional courage, integrity and sportsmanship both on and off the field.
Sixteen seniors and four juniors make up the list. Among conferences, the Big Ten led the way with six selections, while the ACC had five. The SEC and Pac-12 had three each. The American Athletic had two semifinalists, and the Big 12 had one selection.
The full list of semifinalists includes: Derick Hall (Auburn), Matthew Cindric (California), DeWayne Carter (Duke), Holton Ahlers (East Carolina), Dillon Gibbons (Florida State), Tailon Leitzsey (Illinois), Kaevon Merriweather (Iowa), Blake Corum (Michigan), Tanner Morgan (Minnesota), Austin Williams (Mississippi State), Xavier McDonald (Navy), Isaiah Moore (North Carolina State), Kamryn Babb (Ohio State), Brendon Evers (Oklahoma State), Alex Forsyth (Oregon), Sean Clifford (Penn State), Deslin Alexandre (Pittsburgh), Hendon Hooker (Tennessee), Sam Hartman (Wake Forest) and Edefuan Ulofoshio (Washington).
Three finalists will be named for the award on Wednesday, Dec. 14. The winner will be announced at the award ceremony in Frisco, Texas, on Feb. 23, 2023.
Last year, Joshua Paschal of Kentucky won the fifth annual award. The first four Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year awards were presented to Shaquem Griffin of UCF in 2017, D’Cota Dixon of Wisconsin in 2018, Trey Smith of Tennessee in 2019 and Sam Ehlinger of Texas in 2020.
The award, presented by Albertsons and Tom Thumb, is the first college football honor to focus primarily on a player’s leadership, both on and off the field. Leadership is a term synonymous with Jason Witten, who, in addition to becoming one of the best tight ends in the history of the sport, served as one of football’s most prominent role models during his 16-year pro career. In addition to winning the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award in 2012, Witten also received the Bart Starr Award, Pro Football Weekly’s Humanitarian of the Year Award, Home Depot NFL Neighborhood MVP and the Bob Lilly Award, among many others. All of those honors have recognized his work in the community, achievements on the field and dedication to his teammates and family.
“It’s always an honor to announce the semifinalists for the Collegiate Man of the Year,” Witten said. “But this year’s group is especially impressive. These 20 young men are fantastic student-athletes and perfect examples of what makes college football so great. They have demonstrated exceptional character and leadership, often while facing large challenges. They are great representatives for the game of football, and I commend all nominees for getting to this point.”
The winner of the Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year will also receive a $10,000 contribution in his name to his school’s athletic scholarship fund. The contribution will be made by Jason Witten’s SCORE Foundation, the official charity of Jason and his wife Michelle.
The SCORE Foundation, founded in 2007, has positively impacted tens of thousands of children and families in Texas and Tennessee over the last 15 years. The foundation operates its nationally recognized SCOREkeepers program, which places trained male mentors on staff to work with children at family violence shelters, at nine shelters in the two states.