CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.– Virginia senior punter Lester Coleman (Martinsville, Va.) was today named a semifinalist for the 2018 William V. Campbell Trophy (Sept. 26) by the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame. The award recognizes an individual as the best football scholar-athlete in the nation. Coleman is one of 179 semifinalists for the award.
The NFF will announce 12-14 finalists on Oct. 31, and each of them will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship as a member of the 60th NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class. The finalists will travel to New York City for the 61st NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 4, where their accomplishments will be highlighted. Live during the event, one member of the class will be declared the winner of the 29th William V. Campbell Trophy and have his postgraduate scholarship increased to $25,000.
Nominated by their schools, which are limited to one nominee each, candidates for the awards must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of playing eligibility, 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. The class is selected each year by the NFF Awards Committee, which is comprised of a nationally recognized group of media, College Football Hall of Famers and athletics administrators.
Named in honor of the late Bill Campbell, former chairman of Intuit, former player and head coach at Columbia University and the 2004 recipient of the NFF’s Gold Medal, the Campbell Trophy is a 25-pound bronze trophy and increases the amount of the recipient’s grant by $7,000 for a total postgraduate scholarship of $25,000, which is endowed by HealthSouth. This year’s postgraduate scholarships will push the program’s all-time distribution to more than $11.5 million. Since 2013, the Campbell Trophy has been prominently displayed inside its official home at the New York Athletic Club.
“The NFF would like to personally congratulate each of the nominees as well as their schools and coaches on their tremendous accomplishments,” said NFF President & CEOSteve Hatchell. “We are extremely proud to highlight each semifinalist’s achievements, showcasing their ability to balance academics and athletics at the highest level. The NFF Awards Committee will have an incredibly difficult task in selecting the finalists from this outstanding group of candidates.”
“These 179 impressive candidates truly represent the scholar-athlete ideal,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning,whosesons Peyton (Campbell Trophywinner) and Eli were named NFF National Scholar-Athletes in 1997 and 2003, respectively. “For 60 years, the NFF National Scholar-Athlete program has showcased more than 800 college football players who have been successful on the football field, in the classroom and in the community. This year’s semifinalists further illustrate the power of our great sport in developing the next generation of influential leaders.”
Coleman, an Allstate AFCA Good Works Team nominee, earned second team All-ACC honors in 2017 and was a member of the All-ACC Academic team. He finished 2017 ranked No. 4 in the ACC with 43.8 yards per punt. Coleman led the ACC with 23 punts of 50 yards or more and was No. 2 in the ACC and No. 7 in the nation with 29 punts inside the 20. He set a UVA single-season record with six punts of 60 yards or more in 2017.
In the community, Coleman is involved with everything from UVA’s Green Dot program (Not on Our Grounds), to working with the One Love Foundation, Relay for Life, Student-Athlete Advisory Council and Student-Athlete Mentors. He also is a regular when the UVA football team makes Children’s Hospital visits.
Through UVA’s first four games, Coleman has only punted 16 times. His average per punt this season is 41.6 and five of his 16 punts have pinned opponents inside their own 20.
Virginia is one of five schools (only ACC school) to have multiple Campbell Trophy recipients. Former UVA All-American linebacker Micah Kiser is the most recent winner, the 28th all-time recipient. Kiser was a CoSIDA second-team Academic All-American and is only the second player in ACC history to lead the league in tackles for three years in a row. Kiser graduated No. 5 all-time at UVA with 411 career tackles and he currently plays for the Los Angeles Rams after being drafted in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Former Virginia standout Tom Burns was the Campbell Trophy’s fourth recipient. He won the award in 1994. He was a two-year starter at linebacker and four-year performer. Burns became one of Virginia’s all-time leading tacklers with 200 career stops, placing him 15th on the Cavaliers’ all-time roster at the time of his graduation. Majoring in nuclear engineering, he compiled a 3.92 GPA and was twice named a CoSIDA first-team Academic All-American. His many academic accolades during his senior year include the Woody Hayes National Scholar Athlete Award, the Jim Tatum Award and the ACC’s Weaver-James Post-Graduate Award.