Three ASN-affiliated players named finalists for academic Heisman
Blake Frohnapfel of Massachusetts, Jordan Italiano of Kent State and Jason Vander Laan of Ferris State are among the 12 nominees for the award. Each athlete will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship as a member of the National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete Class. The 12 finalists will travel to New York City for the 58th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 8.
At the dinner, their accomplishments will be shared with attendees of the banquet and one athlete will be declared the winner and have his scholarship amount increased to $25,000.
The red carpet for the event will air live on ASN that night.
The 12 finalists, selected from 135 semifinalists across all NCAA divisions and the NAIA:
Sustainable Plant Systems
Arts & Sciences
Mount Union (Ohio)
Jason Vander Laan
Ferris State (Mich.)
App. Math & Actuarial Science
The award, named in honor of Bill Campbell, the chairman of Intuit and a former player and head coach at Columbia University, comes with a 25-pound bronze trophy in addition to the scholarship money.
BLAKE FROHNAPFEL, QB
University of Massachusetts
Finance/Economics | 3.65 GPA
Earned his bachelor’s degree in only three years and is currently a full-time MBA student.
2014 Distinguished MAC Scholar-Athlete and First Team Academic All-MAC selection.
2014 First Team All-MAC selection and winner of the George H. “Bulger” Lowe Award as the best offensive player in New England.
Selected to attend NCAA Leadership Conference and has volunteered with the Boys and Girls Club and the Special Olympics.
The Stafford, Va., native is the second NFF National Scholar-Athlete from UMass.
JORDAN ITALIANO, S
Kent State University
Biochemistry | 3.98 GPA
Two-time Academic All-American and a 2014 MAC Distinguished Scholar-Athlete.
Two-time Academic All-MAC honoree has highest GPA among Kent State football upperclassmen and received Gerald and Victoria Reed Award for hard work and dedication.
Team captain led Golden Flashes in interceptions and forced turnovers in 2014.
Participated in Kent State Leadership Academy and earned Green Dot certification to become a violence prevention instructor.
The Canfield, Ohio, native becomes the first NFF National Scholar-Athlete from Kent State.
JASON VANDER LAAN, QB
Ferris State University (Mich.)
Applied Math & Actuarial Science | 3.77 GPA
2014-15 Division II Scholar-Athlete of the Year and First Team Academic All-American.
Reigning Harlon Hill Trophy winner as the top football player in Division II and 2014 consensus First Team All-American.
2014 conference player of the year and three-year captain is the all-time leader in rushing yards by a quarterback at any level of NCAA football.
Participated in the Hammers & Hearts mission trip to Florida and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
The Frankfort, Ill., native is the second NFF National Scholar-Athlete from Ferris State.
Above: UMass quarterback Blake Frohnapfel is one of 12 nominees for the academic Heisman. (Courtesy of UMass Athletics)