This year, only 179 college football players across the U.S. have the chance to win the most prestigious athlete-scholar award in the country — and a Lehigh student has a shot at it.
Senior defensive lineman Harrison Kauffman was nominated by Lehigh University as a candidate to receive the 2018 William V. Campbell trophy, an award that honors the country’s best athlete-scholar in football.
Kauffman will find if he is one of the 12 to 14 finalists in mid-October. All finalists will receive an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship.
One winner, however, will be chosen to receive a $25,000 post-graduate scholarship, and Lehigh’s defensive line coach Donnie Roberts would not be surprised if that winner is Kauffman.
“He’s taken advantage of the resources that Lehigh has here for him and he has been successful,” Roberts said. “He came in here with the ability, but also the resources that are here allow him to be the person he is academically and athletically. He’s probably the most humble kid you’ll ever want to meet.”
The National Football Federation has given out the William V. Campbell trophy every year since 1990 to notable players such as Peyton Manning and Tim Tebow. While this might seem daunting to some, those who surround him know that Kauffman is a player true to his own character and morals.
“I remember coach Cohen said, ‘The three Fs are faith, family, and football,’ Kauffman said. “I think that also works its way into academics and works its way into how I try to perform everything. I love the challenge. I love the attitude people bring to Lehigh athletics and Lehigh academics. I think that’s kind of what I fell in love with. The people here want to be great at everything.”
As a senior captain, Kauffman has to worry about more than his performance on the field.
He said he has to focus more on the little things, such as study halls, breakfast checks and acting as a role model for younger players.
One of the requirements of the award is demonstrating strong leadership and citizenship, and Katie Guynn, the director of student-athlete academic services at Lehigh, believes that Kauffman has gone beyond meeting the requirements.
“The biggest difference between being committed and being compelled is that you’re doing all the right things and you’re going above and beyond, but you’re bringing other teammates or other people with you and that’s (Kauffman),” Guynn said.
Guynn said Kauffman is always studying with his teammates and helping them out with courses like economics or accounting. She said Kauffman is never hesitant to have a conversation with a teammate if he is struggling and will work with him to overcome any challenge.
While his nomination seems obvious to many of his teammates, coaches and other academic resources, the nomination came as a surprise to Kauffman.
Kauffman refuses to let his love for the team falter after graduation. He said he plans to work in insurance and remain in the Lehigh area so he can come back and watch Lehigh football games.
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