Tom Brew, senior linebacker for Case Western Reserve University, has been named one of 10 finalists (from all four NCAA Division III regions) for the 2006 Gagliardi Trophy, given annually to the outstanding football player in NCAA Division III. For the first time in the trophy's existence, four regional finalists will be chosen and announced on Tuesday, Dec. 5
"I can't think of a greater honor for a football player at our level," said Case Head Coach Greg Debeljak. "It's basically the Heisman award for Division III football.
The trophy will be presented Thursday, Dec. 14, in Salem, Va. The award, sponsored by Jostens, Inc., and administered by the Saint John's University J-Club, recognizes excellence in academics, athletics and community service.
Three quarterbacks, two linebackers, two defensive tackles, two running backs and a defensive back from seven different states comprise the 10 finalists. Three are from Ohio. In addition to Brew, Wilmington College free safety Chad Otte and Wittenberg University running back Tristan Murray have been named finalists.
"In my 18 years of coaching Division III, there has only been one other football player that I would consider deserving of this award—London Fletcher, who is now playing for the Buffalo Bills (National Football League)," said Debeljak. "I'm excited for Tom and his family, and I hope he wins it. He is a very deserving candidate."
Brew, who carries a 3.2 GPA at Case as a public health major, was named the University Athletic Association Co-Defensive Player of the Year this season as well as a first-team linebacker. He was a preseason All-America honoree, a semifinalist for the Draddy Trophy and a CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District second team selection in 2006. Brew led the UAA in total tackles per game (12.1), while finishing 10th in NCAA Division III in the statistic (121 total tackles). His 2.2 tackles for loss (21.5 total for 63 yards) placed him second and eighth in the UAA and Division III, respectively.
"My experience as an athlete and student at Case has been tremendous," said Brew. "I am very proud to represent the university and our football team as a finalist for this award. It's such a great honor, and I'm grateful to be recognized for the hard work I have put in on the field and in the classroom."
Last fall Brew enlisted the entire Spartans' football team to help raise almost $1,000 for cancer awareness, a disease that claimed the life of his young niece. The past two years, Brew also headed up the Case football team's efforts to welcome incoming freshman by helping them move into their residence hall rooms, and he is a volunteer for Tar Wars, a national tobacco-free education program.
"I'm also thankful for my family and all they have done for me," Brew continued. "The support they have given me on the decisions I have made in life has helped me get to where I am today. They are very important to me in my life."
The Gagliardi Trophy was named for Saint John's coach John Gagliardi, the winningest coach in college football history with 442 career victories. Jostens and the J-Club of Saint John's first presented the trophy in 1993 to the Outstanding Division III Football Player of the Year. Since that time, the award has become one of the leading collegiate football honors. View list of past winners.
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