FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. — Eric Soza was tabbed as one of 12 finalists for this year's Wuerffel Trophy, the All Sports Association, Inc., announced on Monday.
The national award, which honors the student-athlete who best combines exemplary community service with outstanding academic and athletics achievement, is named after 1996 Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel, who led Florida to the 1996 National Championship, played six years in the National Football League and has received national recognition for his humanitarian and community service efforts with Desire Street Ministries in New Orleans and around the country.
Soza, a member of both the 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, owns a 17-13 (.567) record in two-plus seasons as the UTSA's starting quarterback. The first Roadrunners football player ever to be named to a national award preseason watch list, he is the program’s all-time leading passer (527-for-897/6,407 yards/45 TDs) and also has rushed 244 times for 944 yards and 13 scores.
The Beeville native has connected on 189-of-308 (61.4 percent) passes for 2,174 yards, including a program-record 316 against Houston (Sept. 28), and 11 touchdowns through the season’s first 10 games. He also has run for 295 yards and four scores on 82 carries.
Soza has been just as impressive away from the playing field.
He was selected as one of 16 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athletes last month and now is a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy (a.k.a. the Academic Heisman) in addition to being named to this year’s American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team back in September. The 6-foot, 210-pounder also earned Capital One Academic All-District VII accolades last week and now is eligible to be an Academic All-American.
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 maintained a near-perfect grade-point average (3.96) en route to graduating with a degree in physical education this past May and currently is taking graduate courses in education leadership and policy studies with plans to pursue coaching when his playing career is complete.
"I’m amazed as I look at this year’s finalists," Wuerffel said. "All these young men are truly remarkable and I am honored to have them representing the trophy named after me."
"We once again have an outstanding group of nominees and finalists for the Wuerffel Trophy," All Sports President Kevin Locht said. "Each one embodies the spirit of the Wuerffel Trophy in their own unique way by putting others before themselves. It makes me proud to know that we have so many student-athletes out there with strong values and who aren’t afraid to demonstrate those values each and every day."
A committee that includes the Wuerffel Trophy national directors, selection committee members and past winners, will vote on the winner later this month, which will be announced on Dec. 10.
Past winners of the award include LSU's Rudy Niswanger (2005), Ohio State's Joel Penton (2006), Tulsa's Paul Smith (2007), Florida's Tim Tebow (2008), Western Michigan's Tim Hiller (2009), Texas' Sam Acho (2011), USC's Matt Barkley (2012) and Alabama's Barrett Jones (2012).
The 2013 Wuerffel Trophy will be presented at the All Sports Association’s 45th annual awards banquet on Feb. 7, 2014.
2013 Wuerffel Trophy Finalists
· Ryan Alderman, Temple
· Dave Harding, Duke
· Chris Hawthorne, Minnesota
· Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma
· Will Jackson, Georgia Tech
· Jacob Karam, Memphis
· James Morris, Iowa
· Aaron Murray, Georgia
· Nathan Scheelhaase, Illinois
· Eric Soza, UTSA
· Carey Spear, Vanderbilt
· Hayden Tippett, Army