Tuesday, December 10, 2019

National Football Foundation Awards Dinner; Mark Harmon Honored

Mark Harmon. Provided by the NFF.

The New York Hilton Midtown's Grand Ballroom played host to an all-star cast of history's greatest football legends and the sport's most promising student-athletes during tonight's 62nd National Football Foundation (NFF) Annual Awards Dinner Presented by ETT.
The star-studded 2019 College Football Hall of Fame Class Presented by ETT took center stage at the event during its formal induction, and 12 of the game's current-leading student-athletes collected $223,000 in postgraduate scholarships as members of the 2019 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class Presented by Fidelity Investments.

The 2019 College Football Hall of Fame Class Presented by ETT was introduced by NFF Board Member Archie Griffin, aHall of Fame running back from Ohio State. The class included Terrell Buckley (Florida State), Rickey Dixon (Oklahoma), London Fletcher (John Carroll [OH]), Jacob Green (Texas A&M), Torry Holt (North Carolina State), Raghib "Rocket" Ismail (Notre Dame), Darren McFadden (Arkansas), Jake Plummer (Arizona State), Troy Polamalu (Southern California), Joe Thomas (Wisconsin), Lorenzo White (Michigan State), Patrick Willis (Mississippi), Vince Young (Texas) and coaches Dennis Erickson (Idaho, Wyoming, Washington State, Miami [FL], Oregon State, Arizona State) and Joe Taylor (Howard, Virginia Union, Hampton, Florida A&M)NFF Chairman and Hall of Fame inductee Archie Manning (Mississippi) conducted the Official Hall of Fame Ring Ceremony.

Celebrated actor and former NFF National Scholar-Athlete Mark Harmon accepted the 2019 NFF Gold Medal, which was presented by NFF Vice Chairman and TV personality Jack Ford presented the Gold Medal, the organization's highest and most prestigious award, to Mark Harmon. The famed actor stars as Leroy Jethro Gibbs on CBS' global favorite "NCIS" series, which is consistently ranked among the five highest-rated TV shows each year. Harmon had equal success as the quarterback at UCLA, leading the Bruins to a combined 17-5 record in 1972 and 1973 while earning a prestigious NFF National Scholar-Athlete Award.
"John Wayne was the Gold Medal recipient in 1973 when I last attended this event [as an NFF National Scholar-Athlete]," Harmon said. "John Wayne, the former Marion Morrison, The Duke, Sergeant Stryker, the 'Sands of Iwo Jima and we were excited to get an opportunity to meet him...Dad [Hall of Famer and Heisman Trophy winner Tom Harmon] was a broadcaster and a producer and he worked hard. He did the local news two shows a day, seven days a week. He also did his national radio show broadcast. Mom worked hard too, raising a growing family with family needs. In that family, values mattered. Kindness mattered. Taking responsibility mattered. No one was more important than anyone else. You work hard in everything you do. There was no failure, as long as you tried your best.
"I was that kid, always outside, always with a ball, any ball, always looking for someone to play catch with, anyone to play catch with, kind of like a golden retriever. I was never the strongest, never the tallest, the fastest or the smartest in anything I tried to do, but I loved to compete and I loved sports. Always loved sports, any sport. I had big dreams, but that's really all they were. Sometimes people doubting you or telling you that you can't do something becomes incentive to prove them wrong.
"I paid specific attention to the little things, those small parts of anything that some people with more talent either ignored or took for granted."

The festivities began with Oregon's Justin Herbert being declared the recipient of the 30th William V. Campbell Trophy Presented by Mazda as the top football scholar-athlete in the nation and receiving a $25,000 postgraduate scholarship. 

Maintaining a remarkable 4.01 GPA, Herbert has been selected as the back-to-back Football Academic All-American of the Year while ranking in the top two in nearly every Oregon passing category. Herbert is set to graduate this December with a degree in science, and he plans to attend medical school one day. This season, he became the first Oregon player to earn the Pac-12 Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year award. The Academic All-American of the Year in both 2018 and 2019, he has been named a First Team Academic All-American three times.

This season, Herbert has guided the Ducks to an 11-2 record and the 2019 Pac-12 title after a win over then-No. 5 Utah in the Pac-12 Championship Game this past weekend. Herbert and the No. 6 Ducks will play No. 8 Wisconsin in the 106th Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual on New Year's Day. The game will kick off at 5 p.m. ET and air on ESPN.
The two-year captain's 32 passing touchdowns rank second in the Pac-12 and are tied for 10th nationally while his 3,333 passing yards are the second most in the Pac-12. For his career, Herbert is one of just two Oregon quarterbacks to surpass 10,000 passing yards, as the senior now boasts 10,403 in second place all-time in school annals behind Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota. Herbert owns school career records for completions (813) and pass attempts (1,273) while ranking second in completion percentage (.641) and 300-yard passing games (9).
Active off the field, Herbert participated in the O Heroes "Court for Kids" service trip to Uganda in 2018, and he has helped prepare Thanksgiving baskets for disadvantaged families for multiple years.

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