Clifford Named a Finalist for 2021 William V. Campbell Trophy


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame announced on Wednesday that Penn State redshirt senior quarterback Sean Clifford has been selected as one of 13 finalists for the 2021 William V. Campbell Trophy®, college football’s premier scholar-athlete award that annually recognizes an individual as the absolute best in the nation for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary leadership.

Clifford will each receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship as a member of the 2021 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class Presented by Fidelity Investments. He was selected from an impressive list of 176 semifinalists nationwide from among all NCAA divisions and the NAIA.

Clifford will all travel to the 63rd NFF Annual Awards Dinner Presented by Las Vegas on Dec. 7, where one of 13 finalists will be named the winner of the 32nd Campbell Trophy® and have his postgraduate scholarship increased to $25,000. The event will take place at the ARIA Resort & Casino Las Vegas and will be streamed live, with specific broadcast information to be announced at a later date.

The quarterback is Penn State’s 19th all-time member of the Scholar-Athlete Class and the first since Trace McSorley in 2018. John Urschel won the Campbell Trophy in 2013.

Sean Clifford Notes

    • Clifford is in his third season as Penn State’s starting signal caller, having played in 31 career games, making 26 starts.


    • Clifford began the 2021 season on the watch lists for the Manning Award, Reese’s Senior Bowl and Wuerffel Trophy.


    • Clifford is one of 25 quarterbacks being considered for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.


    • Clifford is on the Allstate Good Works Team.


    • The QB, who owns a 3.45 cumulative GPA, graduated with a degree in public relations in December 2020 and is pursuing a second degree in journalism.



    • Against   Indiana, Clifford   threw   three   touchdown   passes, connecting with TE Brenton Strange (10 yards) and WR Jahan Dotson (8 yards, 30 yards).


    • Clifford became the fifth Penn State quarterback to reach 6,000 passing yards, against Indiana. He currently has 6,379 passing yards.


    • Against   Villanova, Clifford    became    the    first    Penn    State quarterback to throw for at least 400 passing yards and four passing touchdowns in a game.


    • Clifford threw for a career-high 401 passing yards and tied a career high with four passing touchdowns to earn Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors.


    • Clifford was 12-of-12 for 265 yards on the day when targeting Dotson (seven catches for 117 yards) and Parker Washington (five catches for 148 yards).


    • With three touchdown passes of 52 or more yards against Villanova, Clifford brought his career TD pass total of 40-plus yards to 12.


    • Against Auburn, Clifford completed a career-high 28 passes, on 32 attempts.


    • Per   ESPN, Clifford’s   87.5   completion   percentage, against Auburn, is the highest by a Penn State quarterback in the last 25 years.


    • Since 2000, Clifford’s 64.6 completion percentage is the second- highest through seven games (minimum 200 attempts) by a Penn State quarterback, trailing only Trace McSorley (66.8% in 2017).


    • Clifford ranks fourth in the conference in completions per game (19.57) and passing touchdowns (12), and fifth in completion percentage (64.6), passing yards (1,647), passing yards per game (235.3) and total offense (256.0).


    • Clifford   has   at   least   1,647   passing   yards   and   12   passing touchdowns through the first seven games of a season for the second time in his career. Clifford also accomplished it in 2019 (1,742 yards, 16 touchdowns).


    • Since 2000, Clifford’s 1,647 passing yards are the seventh-most through the first seven games of a season by a Penn State quarterback.


    • Clifford is just one of four Penn State players all-time to reach 7,000-plus yards of total offense and one of five quarterbacks to reach 6,000 career passing yards.


    • Clifford is one of 14 current FBS quarterbacks with 6,000 passing yards and over 875 rushing yards in his career.


    • Clifford owns 24 career games with multi-TD passes, including nine with three or more TDs and three with four or more.


    • The redshirt senior has tossed multiple touchdowns in a half on 14 occasions and nine different times has thrown multiple touchdowns in a quarter.


    • Clifford owns six career games with at least 250 passing yards and three passing touchdowns.


“We are extremely proud to announce the finalists for this year’s Campbell Trophy®,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning, whose sons Peyton (Campbell Trophy® recipient) and Eli were NFF National Scholar-Athletes in 1997 and 2003, respectively. “These young men have an unrelenting commitment to excellence in all aspects of their lives, and they represent all that is right in college football. As strong leaders in the vein of the trophy’s namesake Bill Campbell, they all serve as living examples that the Future for Football is bright. We are excited to honor their hard work and outstanding leadership with postgraduate scholarships.”

Submitted by their schools, which are limited to one nominee each, candidates for the Campbell Trophy® must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of playing eligibility, have a GPA of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first team player or significant contributor and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship.

“The NFF Awards Committee did an excellent job in selecting this year’s National Scholar-Athletes,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “Chosen from an extremely impressive list of semifinalists, the finalists have undoubtedly distinguished themselves as some of the best student-athletes in the country. Each of these men is a leader on and off the field, and we know that they have only begun to reach their potential.”

Launched in 1959, the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards Presented by Fidelity Investments celebrate their 63rd year in 2021. The awards were the first initiative in history to grant postgraduate scholarships based on both a player’s academic and athletic accomplishments. Since 2011, Fidelity Investments, a leading provider of workplace savings plans in higher education, has served as the presenting sponsor of the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards.

As part of its support of the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards, Fidelity Investments helped launch the NFF Faculty Salutes, which recognize the contributions of the faculty athletics representatives at each of the institutions with a finalist for the Campbell Trophy®. The NFF presents each of the faculty athletics representatives with a plaque and Fidelity donates $5,000 for the academic support services at each school. The salutes have recognized 152 FARs since the program’s inception, and Fidelity has made a total of $755,000 (including $65,000 this year) in donations.

Including the 2021 Campbell Trophy® finalists, the NFF has honored 891 individuals with National Scholar-Athlete Awards, and this year’s postgraduate scholarships will push the program’s all-time distribution to more than $12.1 million. The honorees have used the financial support to earn more than 150 medical degrees, 100 law degrees, 80 MBAs and 43 PhDs. Continuing their excellence on the field, more than 250 recipients have played in the NFL with an average career of six seasons or double the length of a typical NFL player. Past recipients also include 13 Rhodes Scholars and six Heisman Trophy winners.

The members of this year’s class find themselves among some of the most elite student-athletes in the history of the game, including NFL standout and current NBC Sports broadcaster Drew Brees (Purdue); celebrated actor and 2019 NFF Gold Medal recipient Mark Harmon (UCLA); Robert Morris University President Chris Howard (Air Force); Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury (Texas Tech); NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins (Illinois) and Leland Melvin (Richmond); and 41 College Football Hall of Famers, including 2020 electees Jason Hanson (Washington State) and Bob Stein (Minnesota) and 2021 electee Harris Barton (North Carolina). Click here for a database of all the past NFF National Scholar-Athletes.

The Campbell Trophy® was first awarded in 1990, adding to the program’s prestige. Past recipients include two Rhodes Scholars, a Rhodes Scholar finalist, two Heisman Trophy winners and seven first-round NFL draft picks.

The trophy is named in honor of the late Bill Campbell, an All-Ivy League player and the captain of Columbia’s 1961 Ivy League championship team who found his true calling after an unlikely career change at age 39 from Columbia football coach to advertising executive. His ability to recruit, develop and manage talented executives – all lessons learned on the gridiron – proved to be a critical component of his ability to inspire his business teams to the highest levels of success.

As the CEO and chairman of Intuit, Campbell’s strong leadership and unique talent in building teams allowed him to become one of the most influential individuals in Silicon Valley. Using the lessons of the gridiron he mentored Steve Jobs of Apple, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Sundar Pichai and Eric Schmidt of Google, Scott Cook and Brad Smith of Intuit, John Doerr of Kleiner-Perkins, Dick Costolo at Twitter, Diane Greene of VMWare and countless others. His contributions have been captured in a book titled “The Trillion Dollar Coach,” and during his lifetime, he affectionally became known as the “Coach of Silicon Valley.”

Campbell joined the NFF Board in 1978 while he was still a coach at Columbia, and he continued to serve with distinction until his passing in 2016. In 2004, the NFF recognized Campbell’s contributions and accomplishments by presenting him with the NFF Gold Medal, the organization’s highest honor. In 2009, the NFF renamed college football’s premier scholar-athlete award as The William V. Campbell Trophy® as an inspiration to future generations.

For information on joining the Nittany Lion Club and ticket information for the 2021 Penn State Football season presented by PSECU, as well as club seating in Beaver Stadium, fans can visit, or call 1-800-NITTANY weekdays from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m.

The 2021 Penn State football season is presented by PSECU.


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