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April 11, 2014
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - John Urschel (Williamsville, N.Y.), the Penn State All-American guard who claimed the 2013 William V. Campbell Trophy from the National Football Foundation (NFF) as college football's premier scholar-athlete, has been named the recipient of the 84th James E. Sullivan Award, presented by the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) to America's top amateur athlete.
Urschel was announced as the winner of the prestigious award Friday night during an awards ceremony at the AAU National Headquarters in Orlando, Fla. Urschel was selected from a pool of 19 semifinalists vying for the honor in 2014, and was joined by two other finalists, University of Florida track and field athlete Cory Ann McGee and University of Nebraska volleyball player Kelsey Robinson. Urschel becomes Penn State's second winner of the Sullivan Award, joining Olympic track champion Horace Ashenfelter, the 1952 Sullivan recipient.
First presented in 1930, the Sullivan Award honors an athlete who demonstrates the qualities of leadership, character, sportsmanship, and the ideals of amateurism. Past football recipients of the Sullivan Award include College Football Hall of Fame inductees Felix "Doc" Blanchard (Army, 1945), Arnold Tucker (Army, 1946), and Charlie Ward (Florida State, 1993), and NFF National Scholar-Athletes and William V. Campbell Trophy winners Peyton Manning (Tennessee, 1997), Tim Tebow (Florida, 2007) and Andrew Rodriguez (Army, 2011.)
Women's volleyball All-American Megan Hodge was Penn State's most recent Sullivan Award finalist, after helping the Nittany Lions capture an unprecedented four consecutive NCAA Championships from 2007-10.
A member of the 2013 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class, presented by Fidelity Investments, Urschel claimed the William V. Campbell Trophy, endowed by HealthSouth and hosted at the New York Athletic Club, on Dec. 10, 2013 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City during the 56th NFF Annual Awards Dinner. He received a special tribute for his accomplishments when the NFF and the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) jointly honored him in front of a sold-out crowd of more than 93,000 fans at the Jan. 6 BCS National Championship at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
Urschel participated in the NFL Scouting Combine in February, and he has been engaged to write a diary about his preparations for the NFL Draft by the Associated Press. In addition to his Associated Press diary, he has received extensive coverage from several prominent news organizations, including BTN, Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports and the CBS Evening News.
A team co-captain and a key component to one of the Big Ten's most productive offenses the past two years, Urschel claimed Associated Press Third Team All-America honors, and he helped quarterback Christian Hackenberg earn Big Ten Freshman of the Year this past season. A two-time First Team All-Big Ten guard, Urschel paved the way for three-straight 1,000-yard rushers and helped the Nittany Lions to winning seasons in all four years of his career. He also blocked for 3,000-yard passer Matt McGloin, who broke 10 school passing and total offense records in 2012.
A 2013 Big Ten Medal of Honor recipient, Urschel garnered back-to-back First-team CoSIDA Academic All-America honors in 2012 and 2013 and Academic All-District honors for three straight years. He earned a bachelor's in mathematics in May 2012, a master's in mathematics a year later, and has been working on a second master's degree in math education - all while maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA. He was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar.
Urschel has taught college-level courses Integral Vector Calculus and Trigonometry and Analytic Geometry and has had several research papers published, including "Instabilities of the Sun-Jupiter-Asteroid Three Body Problem" in the journal Celestial Mechanics and Dynamic Astronomy and "A Space-Time Multigrid Method for the Numerical Valuation of Barrier Options" in the journal Communications in Mathematical Finance.
Active in the community, Urschel was a volunteer with the Penn State Uplifting Athletes chapter, Penn State Dance Marathon, Relay for Life, Special Olympics and Make-A-Wish events.
Notable past Sullivan Award recipients from sports other than football include Bruce Jenner (track & field), Shawn Johnson (gymnastics), Jackie Joyner-Kersey (athletics), Michelle Kwan (figure skating), Jessica Long (paralympian), Greg Louganis (diving), Evan Lysacek (figure skating), Michael Phelps (swimming), Wilma Rudolph (athletics), and Mark Spitz (swimming). The award is named for the founder and past president of the Amateur Athletic Union, James E. Sullivan. Recognized as a pioneer in the amateur sports movement, Sullivan is credited with developing the current concept of the playground and organized recreation of the present day.
Urschel is expected to be in attendance at Saturday's Blue-White Game, which begins at 1:30 p.m. in Beaver Stadium and will air on the Penn State Sports Network and www.GoPSUsports.com.