SAN ANTONIO — Eric Soza was awarded his Allstate American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Good Works Team trophy in a surprise ceremony on Thursday at John Paul Stevens High School.
The senior quarterback from Beeville spoke to the Falcons football team about the importance of balancing academics with athletics for approximately 10 minutes and then was presented his award by local Allstate agency owner Ralph Peña.
"I am so humbled by this honor and want to thank the American Football Coaches Association and Allstate for selecting me to the Good Works Team," Soza said. "I feel like it is my responsibility to make a difference away from the playing field and impact others in a positive way. My parents taught me at a young age the importance of giving to the community and I feel like it is my duty as an ambassador of the UTSA Football program to do so. I had no clue this was going to happen today, so needless to say, I was surprised."
Exactly one month ago, Soza was one of 11 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) student-athletes named to the squad that pays tribute to the positive impact young student-athletes have had on their communities and the lives of others.
Soza, a three-year team captain, has started under center 27 times in the Roadrunners' first two-plus seasons. The 6-foot, 210-pounder has led UTSA to 14 wins during that time, as they have made the transition from Football Championship Subdivision independent into the Western Athletic Conference and now into Conference USA. Also a 2013 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award/William V. Campbell Trophy and Senior CLASS Award nominee, he was one of five finalists for the 2013 Coach John Wooden Citizenship Cup and one of 10 for the 2012 Awards and Recognition Association Sportsmanship Award.
Soza was a member of both the 2013 Manning Award (nation’s top QB) and inaugural Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award (top offensive player in Division I with ties to the state of Texas) preseason watch lists. The first Roadrunners football player ever to be named to a national award preseason watch list is the program’s all-time leading passer (487-for-831/5,875 yards/42 TDs) and rusher by attempts (223 for 857 yards).
He has connected on 149-of-242 (61.6 percent) passes for 1,642 yards, including a program-record 316 against Houston (Sept. 28), and eight touchdowns to go along with 208 rushing yards and four scores on 61 carries through the season’s first seven games.
Soza is coming off a junior campaign that saw him complete 166-of-282 (58.9 percent) throws for 2,085 yards and 20 touchdowns, including a program-record four at No. 22 Louisiana Tech (Nov. 3). His 314 passing yards against the Bulldogs and 82-yard TD toss to Kenny Bias at New Mexico State (Sept. 29) also were school marks. Soza threw just three interceptions and, at one time, went an FBS-leading 256 passes between picks. He also ran for 364 yards and six TDs on 67 carries (5.4 avg.) and tied a program record with three rushing scores at Idaho (Nov. 17).
He has been just as impressive away from the playing field.
Soza is an active member of UTSA's community service program in addition to serving as the president of the school's student-athlete advisory committee. He also maintained a near-perfect grade-point average (3.96) en route to graduating with a degree in physical education this past May. He currently is attending graduate school with plans of getting into coaching when his playing career is complete.
For more than two decades, the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team has recognized college football players at all levels of the sport for inspiring acts of service and off-the-field achievements. This summer, the program received a record 150 nominations from colleges and universities across the country. From the nominations, an esteemed voting panel comprised of former Allstate AFCA Good Works Team members and college football media selected 11-player FBS team.
Fans can vote for this year's team captain by clicking here. There, fans can learn more about this year’s team members and vote for the player who they feel represents the “best of the best” in the areas of giving back and contributing to the greater good of their communities. The team captain and his fellow award recipients will be invited to New Orleans to take part in a community project leading up to the 2014 Allstate Sugar Bowl.
The 2013 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team voting panel includes former Good Works Team members Zaid Abdul-Aleem (Duke, 1994), Matt Stinchcomb (Georgia, 1997-98), Brian Brenberg (St. Thomas, 2001) and Mike Proman (Amherst, 2002); media members Lou Holtz (ESPN), Kirk Herbstreit (ESPN), Tom O’Toole (USA Today) and Blair Kerkhoff (Kansas City Star); current AFCA President and current Texas head coach Mack Brown; 1987 AFCA President and former Brigham Young head coach LaVell Edwards; and Field Vice President of Allstate’s Southern Region Cynthia Whitfield.