Duke's Helton Earns NFF National Scholar-Athlete Award

DURHAM, N.C. (GoDuke.com) – The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Football Hall of Fame announced on Thursday that Duke University senior linebacker David Helton has been named one of 17 recipients of the 2014 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Award, presented by Fidelity Investments.

The 17 honorees also comprise the list of finalists for the 2014 William V. Campbell Trophy, presented by Fidelity Investments and prominently displayed at its official home inside the New York Athletic Club, which recognizes an individual as the absolute best scholar-athlete in the nation. Selected from a nationwide pool of 169 exceptional semifinalists from among all NCAA divisions and the NAIA, Helton is joined in the class by Terry Baggett (Army), Austin Damaschke (Concordia [Wis.]), Austin Hasquet (Northern Arizona), Taylor Kelly (Arizona State), Nate Leonard (Texas-San Antonio), Tyler Lockett (Kansas State), Mike Mancini (Trinity [Conn.]), Charles Moore (Tarleton State [Texas]), Mark Murphy (Indiana), Jordan Richards (Stanford), Kevin Rodgers (Henderson State [Ark.]), Mike Sadler (Michigan State), Caleb Schaffitzel (Missouri State), Tyler Varga (Yale), Brandon Vitabile (Northwestern) and Zach Zenner (South Dakota State).

While leading the 24th-ranked Blue Devils to a 6-1 start to the 2014 season, Helton has recorded a team-high 69 tackles as Duke ranks first in the ACC and fifth nationally in scoring defense by allowing just 15.1 points per game.  He also ranks third in the ACC in tackles per contest (9.86).

In 42 career games at Duke, Helton has compiled 282 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 quarterback sacks.  In 2013, he led the ACC in total tackles (133) while helping the Blue Devils to a school single-season record 10 wins, the ACC Coastal Division championship and an appearance in the 46th annual Chick-fil-A Bowl.
In the classroom, Helton holds a cumulative grade point average of 3.64 while majoring in psychology.  He is three-time Academic All-ACC selection and last year earned Academic All-District accolades.

Helton becomes the fifth Duke player to earn the honor, joining Mike Diminick (1988), Bill Obremskey (1983), Sean Renfree (2012) and Perry Simmons (2013).
“We are extremely proud to announce this year’s National Scholar-Athlete Class,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “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. They members serve as living examples of our mission of building leaders through football, and they create an exceptionally worthy pool of candidates for the Campbell Trophy.”

Each member of the 2014 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class will travel to New York City to be honored Dec. 9 during the 57th NFF Annual Awards Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria where their accomplishments will be highlighted in front of one of the most powerful audiences in all of sports. They each will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship, and one member of the class will also be announced live at the event as the 25th recipient of the William V. Campbell Trophy, which recognizes an individual as the absolute best scholar-athlete in the nation. The recipient of the Campbell Trophy will also be honored at the NFF Board of Directors meeting and at a reception hosted by the New York Athletic Club on Wednesday, Dec. 10.

Named in honor of Bill Campbell  (the chairman of Intuit, a former player and head coach at Columbia University, and the 2004 recipient of the NFF’s Gold Medal), the award comes with a 25-pound bronze trophy and a $7,000 increase in postgraduate funds for a total scholarship of $25,000. A total distribution of $300,000 in scholarships will be awarded that evening, pushing the program’s all-time distributions to more than $10.7 million.

“Jack Ford and the NFF Awards Committee did an excellent job in selecting this year’s National Scholar-Athletes,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning, whose sons Peyton (Campbell winner) and Eli were NFF National Scholar-Athletes in 1997 and 2003, respectively. “Selected from an impressive group of semifinalists, they should be extremely proud of their accomplishments, as they have undoubtedly distinguished themselves as some of the best student-athletes in the country. Each of these men is also a leader in his respective community, and we know that they have only begun to reach their potential.”

The NFF National Scholar-Athlete program, launched in 1959, became the first initiative in history to award scholar-athletes postgraduate scholarships for their combined athletic, academic and leadership abilities. Including the 2014 recipients, the NFF has honored 804 individuals with National Scholar-Athlete Awards. The members of this year’s class find themselves among some of the most elite student-athletes in the history of the game. Past National Scholar-Athletes include former NFL standout Derrick Brooks (Florida State); Southern California Athletics Director Pat Haden (USC); actor Mark  Harmon (UCLA); Hampden-Sydney College (Va.) President Chris Howard (Air Force); West Virginia Athletics Director Oliver Luck (West Virginia); NASA astronaut Leland Melvin (Richmond); chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament, Billy Payne (Georgia); famed NFL quarterback Steve Young (BYU); and Heisman Trophy winners Doug Flutie (Boston College) and Tim Tebow (Florida).

In 2011, the NFF and Fidelity launched a multi-year initiative between the two organizations to celebrate the scholar-athlete ideal and a joint commitment to higher education. As part of the initiative, Fidelity became the first presenting sponsor ever in the history of the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards program. In 2014, Fidelity expanded its support, becoming the presenting sponsor of the William V. Campbell Trophy. Fidelity’s support also includes the NFF Faculty Salutes, which recognizes the contributions of the faculty athletics representatives at each of the institutions with an NFF National Scholar-Athlete. As part of the initiative, the NFF presents each of the faculty representatives with a plaque and a $5,000 check from Fidelity Investments, which is used to support the academic support services for student-athletes at each school.