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Standout scholar-athlete from Chattanooga, Tenn., becomes first Blue Devil to win college football's premier scholar-athlete award
NEW YORK (NFF) – Duke University linebacker David Helton has been named the 25th recipient of the William V. Campbell Trophy, presented by Fidelity Investments, at the 57th National Football Foundation Annual Awards Dinner in New York City tonight.
“David Helton’s exceptional accomplishments rank him among the best student-athletes in the history of our sport, making him the ideal Campbell Trophy recipient,” said NFF President & CEO Steven J. Hatchell. “He truly embodies the NFF’s mission of building leaders through football, and we are proud to have him as a member of this elite fraternity. We look forward to watching the future unfold for this incredible young man.”
The Campbell Trophy, prominently displayed at its official home inside the New York Athletic Club, stands as one of college football's most sought after and competitive awards, recognizing an individual as the absolute best in the country for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary community leadership. The award comes with a 24-inch, 25-pound bronze trophy and a $25,000 postgraduate scholarship. A total of $313,000 was awarded tonight to Helton and the 17 other members of the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class, presented by Fidelity Investments, who comprised the list of Campbell Trophy finalists. Each member of the class claimed an $18,000 scholarship for their postgraduate educations.
“David and his fellow members of the 2014 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class represent more than just the standout athletic ability one sees on the field,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning, whose sons Peyton (Campbell winner) and Eli were NFF National Scholar-Athletes in 1997 and 2003, respectively. “Their academic achievements and their contributions as leaders in the community sends a powerful message about the young men who play our sport. They have taken full advantage of the educational opportunities created by college football, and they have created a powerful legacy for others to follow.”
Helton boasts an impressive academic resume as a 2014 First Team Academic All-American and two-time First Team Academic All-District selection. He has maintained a 3.64 GPA while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in theater, and he plans to study sales/marketing following his graduation in May 2015. His numerous ACC accolades include the 2014 Jim Tatum Award as the top senior football student-athlete in the conference, a three-time Academic All-ACC selection and a three-time member of the ACC Academic Honor Roll.
The Chattanooga, Tenn., native has played a key role in Duke’s defense, collecting honors as a First Team All-ACC selection in 2014 and leading the conference in tackles in both his junior and senior seasons. In 2014, he has amassed 125 tackles, including 5 tackles for loss. In 2013, he totaled 133 tackles, including 4 tackles for loss. He now ranks 10th in Duke history with 338 career tackles, and he has four career sacks and 14 career tackles for loss.
A finalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy, Helton led Duke to an 8-3 record in the 2014 regular season and the Blue Devils’ third consecutive bowl appearance. He also recorded six double-digit tackle performances, including a season-team-high with 18 against Pittsburgh.
In 2013, he helped lead Duke to a school-record 10 wins, an ACC Coastal Division title and the school’s first-ever Dr. Pepper ACC Championship Game appearance, and he posted 19 tackles in a win over then-No. 16 Virginia Tech for the 16th-highest single-game total in Duke history. He finished the 2013 season with a streak of 14 consecutive games with seven or more tackles.
Helton’s commitment to excellence extends to his work as a leader in the community, and his extensive volunteer work includes the Durham Rescue Mission; wrapping Christmas presents for underprivileged children; and participating in an annual trash clean-up initiative on the Duke campus. In 2012, following his roommate’s tragic jet-skiing accident, Helton founded the Blair Holliday Fund, a non-profit T-shirt company that has raised more than $45,000 for his roommate’s recovery.
Following tonight’s Annual Awards Dinner, Helton will receive several additional honors. On Wednesday, the New York Athletic Club (NYAC) will host a luncheon reception in his honor at the organization’s Hall of Fame Room. From there, he head directly to Orlando for Thursday’s ESPN Home Depot College Football Awards Show where he will be interviewed live during the red carpet pre-show. Finally, he will be honored on-field at the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship Game on Jan. 12.
Helton becomes Duke’s first Campbell Trophy winner and the school’s fifth NFF National Scholar-Athlete, following Perry Simmons (2013), Sean Renfree (2012), Michael Diminick (1988) and William Obremsky (1983). He becomes the ACC’s first Campbell Trophy recipient since 2001.
Launched in 1959, the NFF scholar-athlete program became the first initiative in history to award post graduate scholarships based on a player’s combined academic, athletic and community accomplishments, and the program has awarded $10.7 million to 804 top athletes since its inception. Candidates must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of eligibility, have a grade point average of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first team player and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship.
The centerpiece to the NFF's scholar-athlete program, the Campbell Trophy was first awarded in 1990. It is named in honor of Bill Campbell, the chairman of Intuit, former player and head coach at Columbia University and the 2004 recipient of the NFF's Gold Medal. In 2011, Fidelity Investments, became the first presenting sponsor of the organization’s prestigious NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards program and it became the presenting sponsor of the William V. Campbell Trophy at the start of the 2014 season.