Five Louisiana college football players are among the 114 players on the Wuerffel Trophy Preseason Watch List announced Thursday by the All Sports Association in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
LSU safety Jacoby Stevens, UL Lafayette receiver Jalen Williams, Tulane receiver Sorrell Brown and Louisiana Tech offensive lineman Joshua Mote and long snapper Reeves Blankenship were named to the watch list on Thursday.
The Wuerffel Trophy, known as “College Football’s Premier Award for Community Service,” is presented each February in Fort Walton Beach. Named after 1996 Heisman Trophy winning quarterback from the University of Florida, Danny Wuerffel, the Wuerffel Trophy exists to honor college football players who serve others, celebrate their positive impact on society, and inspire greater service in the world, according to a statement.
“It is so inspiring to see this record number of athletes being submitted for the award,” Wuerffel said in the statement. “These young men truly represent college football’s most impactful community service leaders. We are proud to honor them.”
Notable returnees to the Watch List include 2019 finalist Isaiah Sanders of Stanford (transferring for senior season of eligibility from USAF Academy) and semifinalists Teton Saltes of New Mexico and Sam Ehlinger of Texas.
Stevens, a senior from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, earned second team All-SEC honors in 2019 and was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week three times during LSU’s College Football Playoff championship season. He’s LSU’s top returning tackler from a year ago with 92 tackles and had 9.0 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks and three interceptions.
In the classroom, Stevens is scheduled to graduate in December with a degree in sports administration.
Off the field, Stevens has been active in many community service events in the Baton Rouge area and most recently initiated and organized the register to vote campaign for the LSU football team that saw 100 percent of the Tigers register to vote as a result of this campaign.
He’s also participated in Strong Men Academy, an organization that works with middle school and high school at-risk kids in Baton Rouge area and he helped prepare for the arrival of Tropical Storm Cristobal in spring of 2020 by spending a day filling sand bags.
Former Tiger Rudy Niswanger was the first winner of the Wuerffel Trophy in 2005.
Williams, a redshirt senior, has been active around the Lafayette community, most recently spending time at the St. Joseph Diner and assisting with the Ragin’ Cajuns Athletics Foundation’s Thank-A-Thon. He has also participated in activities with the Boys and Girls Club, The New Way Residential Treatment Home and Our Lady of Fatima’s Morning Welcome.
On the field, Williams appeared in 13 games and made two starts at wide receiver in 2019. In those contests, he hauled in 21 passes for 279 yards and a touchdown while also throwing one pass for 16 yards.
The Opelousas native finished the year ranked fifth on the team in receiving yards (279) and total receptions (21) and enters 2020 ranked third on the team in both categories.
His top performance of the season came at Coastal Carolina on Nov. 7 when he made three receptions for 36 yards and his 10-yard touchdown reception.
Brown, a sophomore, has been a member on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, serving as the football team’s liaison between administration and student-athletes.
The Arlington, Texas, native has served at the New Orleans Center for Public Service where he regularly engages with community leaders on social justice topics. In addition, Brown has been a member of the New Orleans Waste Warriors where he has evoked policy change, educational campaigns and events centered on reducing and reusing Tulane’s campus waste.
Brown also has been an active member in the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, St. Bernard Project and Excite All-Stars organizations.
Nominations for the Wuerffel Trophy are made by the respective universities’ Sports Information Departments and will close on October 15.
A current list of nominees can be found at www.wuerffeltrophy.org beginning on August 1.
Semifinalists for the award will be announced on November 3 and finalists will be announced on November 23.
The formal announcement of the 2020 recipient will be made at the National Football Foundation’s festivities in New York City on December 8. The presentation of the 2020 Wuerffel Trophy will occur at the 52nd All Sports Association Awards Banquet on February 19, 2021 in Fort Walton Beach.
Past recipients of the award are: Rudy Niswanger — LSU — 2005; Joel Penton — Ohio State — 2006; Paul Smith — Tulsa — 2008; Tim Tebow — Florida — 2008; Tim Hiller — Western Michigan — 2009; Sam Acho — Texas — 2010; Barrett Jones — Alabama — 2011; Matt Barkley — USC — 2012; Gabe Ikard — Oklahoma — 2013; Deterrian Shackelford — Ole Miss — 2014; Ty Darlington — Oklahoma — 2015; Trevor Knight — Texas A&M — 2016; Courtney Love — Kentucky — 2017; Drue Tranquill — Notre Dame — 2018; Jon Wassink — Western Michigan — 2019.
The Wuerffel Trophy is presented by Chick-fil-A® and is also supported by its corporate partners Dart Container Corporation/Solo Cup and Herff Jones.
The Wuerffel Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 25 awards now boast more than 800 recipients, dating back to 1935. Visit www.ncfaa.org to learn more about the association.