NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State senior offensive lineman Chris Zirkle’s off-the-field resume added a bullet point Wednesday morning.
Zirkle was one of 185 college football players from the NCAA and the NAIA named as semifinalists for the 2019 William V. Campbell Trophy, a list announced by the National Football Foundation & College Football Hall of Fame.
The Campbell Trophy recognizes a college football player as the best football scholar-athlete in the nation for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary leadership. Nominees must be a senior or graduate student in his 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 or significant contributor and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship.
A senior offensive lineman from League City, Texas, Zirkle already has earned his undergraduate degree in business administration and is pursuing a master’s degree in homeland security. Zirkle has started 31 games in his Northwestern State career, including all four in 2019.
A two-time CoSIDA Academic All-District selection, Zirkle was a first-team All-Louisiana and a second-team All-Southland Conference selection as a junior. After missing the first seven games of the 2018 season, Zirkle returned for the final four games in which the Demons saw their running game average 36.6 yards per game more than it did without him in the lineup.
Off the field, Zirkle was the Southland Conference’s male representative at April’s NCAA Leadership Forum in Orlando, Florida, and was a nominee for the Allstate American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team. He was the community service outreach coordinator for Northwestern State’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee in 2018-19 when NSU student-athletes established a program record with more than 4,400 hours of community service.
“(Zirkle) truly epitomizes the essence of the NSU Athletic Department’s Core Values – academic achievement, personal responsibility and competitive success,” Director of Athletics Greg Burke wrote in his letter of recommendation to the Campbell Trophy selection committee.
Zirkle is joined in the semifinalist list by another Southland Conference player – Nicholls’ Dontrell Taylor – and one other Louisiana nominee, LSU’s Blake Ferguson.
Northwestern State has a history with the Campbell Trophy as former Demons offensive lineman William Broussard was nominated for the 1999 Campbell Trophy and attended the yearly Campbell Trophy Summit in Irving, Texas, in August.
The National Football Foundation will announce 12-14 finalists on Oct. 30 and each will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship as a member of the 2019 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class. The finalists will travel to New York City for the annual NFF Awards Dinner on Dec. 10. During the event, one member of the class will be announced as the 30th Campbell Trophy winner and have his postgraduate scholarship increased to $25,000.
Credit: Gary Hardamon/NSU Photographic Services