Lehigh football senior linebacker Pete Haffner has recently been named a semi-finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, awarded to the top football scholar-athlete in the nation. He is one of 199 student-athletes up for the award.
“Being named a semi-finalist for the award is very significant to me,” Haffner said. “It really means a lot that I can be connected to Mr. Campbell in a way. It takes a village, and it’s a testament to my coaches, my teammates, my family, and to all of the professors I’ve had.”
It has become the most prestigious and desirable academic award in college football and has been nicknamed the “Academic Heisman.”
Last season, Haffner started all 11 games at inside linebacker as a junior for the Mountain Hawks, ranking second on the team with 4.5 sacks and third with 10 tackles for a loss. Haffner concluded the season as a second-team All-Patriot League honoree.
However, for Haffner, the accolades continue off the field. Haffner has a 3.64 GPA, made the dean’s list four out of six semesters and was named to the Academic All-Patriot League for the second straight year.
Haffner is also involved in various other student organizations, including the university’s chapter of Uplifting Athletes and the student council of Lehigh’s College of Business.
As a current captain of the Lehigh football team, Haffner is no rookie to the academic and athletic rigors the university has to offer. He credits his success to his time management skills and his courage to ask for help.
“Whether it’s in a calculus class or on the football field, everyone I’ve met has been more than willing to help,” Haffner said.
For Haffner, school has always come hand in hand with football. When it came down to commit to a college, Haffner chose Lehigh because of its tradition for academic and athletic success.
Additionally, the opportunity to attend a high-academic institution while playing Division I football was one he couldn’t pass up.
Members of the team’s coaching staff were not surprised to learn about Haffner’s nomination for the prestigious accolade, noting his motivation, drive and preparation.
Defensive coordinator Mike Kashurba said Haffner wants to be great at everything he does.
“He’s a top-shelf guy who always does the right thing, isn’t afraid to have a difficult conversation and isn’t afraid to put himself out there,” Kashurba said. “Pete (Haffner) has no fear of failure, no fear of hard work and does all the things you need him to do — without you really having to ask him.”
Kashurba said Haffner is as good of a teammate as anybody he’s seen because he legitimately cares about the team and his teammates individually.
Senior long snapper Jack Dean also provided high praise for Haffner.
“On the field, he is a very vocal guy,” Dean said. “He is a very energetic guy who wants to bring energy to the other players. He deserves this accolade. There is a reason why he is up for the award. He has really set the example for the team.”
The National Football Foundation will narrow the award down from 199 semi-finalists to about 12 to 14 finalists later this fall, and each of them will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship. One of the finalists will be named the winner of the 31st Campbell Trophy, and their postgraduate scholarship will be increased to $25,000.