Dec. 9, 2008
California senior center Alex Mack was named winner of the 2008 Draddy Trophy as the nation's top football scholar-athlete during a ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York Tuesday night.
The Draddy Trophy, also referred to as the "Academic Heisman," is one of college football's most sought-after and competitive awards, recognizing an individual as the absolute best in the country for his combined academic success, football performance and community leadership. The award comes with a 24-inch, 25-pound bronze trophy and a $25,000 postgraduate scholarship. A total of $277,000 was awarded to Mack and the other 14 Draddy Trophy finalists at the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame's Annual Awards Dinner.
"I'm just very thankful to the National Football Foundation for this honor," Mack said, "and I am grateful for schools such as California for allowing us to excel. The university gave me the opportunity to excel on the field and in the classroom as well as offering time for community service."
Having already graduated with a 3.61 GPA and a bachelor's degree in legal studies, the 2008 Pac-10 Scholar-Athlete of the Year for football is a four-time Academic All-Pac-10 selection currently pursuing a master's in education. In an article by Eric Gilmore of CalBears.com, several of Mack's teammates concurred that it has come to be expected to see Mack "walking around with a book all the time," and acknowledge that Mack "puts in the time to succeed" when it comes to school and football.
Equally impressive, the projected first round NFL Draft pick is a three-time first-team All-Pac-10 pick. Also a finalist for the 2008 Rimington Trophy presented to the top center in college football, Mack won the 2007 Morris Trophy last year as the conference's top offensive lineman.
A member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Mack was the literal poster boy for Cal's "Dancing with the Stars" fundraising event, which raised money for underprivileged children in the San Francisco area. He was selected as a summer guest columnist for the Sporting New Today and has participated in an after-school program with local elementary schools.
Mack follows Je'Rod Cherry (1995) and Donald Pat Newell (1959) as NFF National Scholar-Athletes for the Golden Bears.
Launched in 1959, the NFF scholar-athlete program became the first initiative in history to credit a player for both academic and athletic accomplishments. The centerpiece to the NFF's scholar-athlete program, which has awarded $8.9 million to 708 top athletes, the Draddy Trophy, first awarded in 1990, honors Manhattan College quarterback and former NFF Chairman Vincent dePaul Draddy.
"The NFF mission is to build leaders through football, and the 2008 NFF National Scholar-Athlete class members stand as a testament to that creed," said NFF President & CEO Steven J. Hatchell. "We look forward to supporting the bright futures of each of these fine young men, and we take great pride in holding them out as examples of football's unique ability to build tomorrow's leaders."
Candidates must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of eligibility, have a grade point average of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first team player and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship.
Past Draddy winners, including two Rhodes Scholars, a Rhodes Scholar finalist, a Heisman winner and a 3.7 average GPA, are: Chris Howard (Air Force, 1990 - Leader in Higher Education); John B. Culpepper (Florida, 1991 - Attorney); Jim Hansen (Colorado, 1992 - MIT Professor); Thomas Burns (Virginia, 1993 - Ph.D. Nuclear Engineer); Robert Zatechka (Nebraska, 1994 - Physician); Bobby Hoying (Ohio State, 1995 - Real Estate Developer); Danny Wuerffel (Florida, 1996 - Nonprofit Director); Peyton Manning (Tennessee, 1997 - NFL Player); Matt Stinchcomb (Georgia, 1998 - Television Broadcaster); Chad Pennington (Marshall, 1999 - NFL Player); Kyle Vanden Bosch (Nebraska, 2000 - NFL Player); Joaquin Gonzalez (Miami, 2001 - Entrepreneur); Brandon Roberts (Washington University-Mo., 2002 - Medical Student); Craig Krenzel (Ohio State, 2003 - Real Estate Investment Analyst); Michael Munoz (Tennessee, 2004 - Nonprofit director and political candidate); Rudy Niswanger (LSU, 2005 - NFL Player); Brian Leonard (Rutgers, 2006 - NFL Player); and Dallas Griffin (Texas, 2007 - MBA Candidate).