COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. – Heidelberg University senior Craig Sykes (Centerburg) was named a finalist for the Gagliardi Trophy, awarded to the top all-around student-athlete in NCAA Division III Football.
Not only has Sykes, a linebacker, started for the Heidelberg defense for four years, he has served as the defensive signal caller, too. In 2012, Sykes was named First Team All-OAC following a season where he recorded 87 tackles, two interceptions and seven pass deflections.
For his career, Sykes finished with 255 tackles, including 22 for a loss. He snared six interceptions and forced four fumbles. In 2011, he was named a Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-American. He was named OAC Defensive Player of the Week twice.
Sykes was instrumental in the success of the 2012 football team, which earned the first NCAA playoff berth in school history.
Off of the football field, Sykes has spent seven semesters on the Dean’s List with a 3.9 GPA. A biology major minoring in chemistry and Spanish, Sykes is preparing for a career in medicine. He was selected as a Chester Summer Scholar, a highly competitive research program with MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland. He currently serves as an emergency room scribe at Blanchard Valley Hospital in Findlay.
In the community, Sykes volunteers his time working with special needs students at the Seneca County Opportunity Center. He has also participated in Amigos de Arise and Heidelberg’s US-Mexico Border trip.
“We are very proud of Craig and his selection as a Gagliardi finalist,” said head football coach Mike Hallett. “Craig embodies the best of the student-athlete experience, excelling in the classroom, on the field, and in the community.”
The Gagliardi Trophy is named in honor of John Gagliardi, the recently retired coach at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. A head coach for 64 yeards, Gagliardi has the most wins in college football history, with 489.
Fitting in with the NCAA Division III ideals, the Gagliardi Trophy honors excellence in academics, athletics and community service.
“Craig is a shining example of what every coach envisions his players to become: scholar, athlete, and community leader,” said Hallett. “His hard work and dedication have earned him great recognition, and is a worthy candidate for this outstanding award.”
The 10 finalists, screened and selected by the J-Club at St. John’s, will be voted on by a panel of 35individuals which includes media members, former winners and several members of the College Football Hall of Fame.
For the fourth straight year, fans will, collectively, receive one vote for the Gagliardi Trophy. To cast their ballot, fans should visit D3football.com.
After voting has finished, four finalists will be invited a banquet on Wednesday, December 12, in Salem, Virginia, where the winner will be announced as part of the Stagg Bowl festivities.
Sykes is the first Gagliardi Trophy finalist in Heidelberg history.
2012 Gagliardi Trophy Finalists
Zach Autenrieb, senior defensive back, Thomas More (Ky.)
Nick Driskill, senior defensive back, Mount Union
McCallum Foote, junior quarterback, Middlebury (Vt.)
Wyatt Hanus, senior quarterback, Dubuque (Iowa)
Luke Heinsohn, senior running back/kicker, Washington & Lee (Va.)
Curtis James, senior center, St. Thomas (Minn.)
Noah Joseph, senior wide receiver, Union (N.Y.)
Craig Sykes, senior linebacker, Heidelberg
Nate Wara, senior quarterback, UW-Oshkosh
Scottie Williams, senior running back, Elmhurst (Ill.)