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Elite Scholar

October 30, 2012

By Kay Hawes, Director of Marketing and Public Relations

Shane Zackery, a senior wide receiver at Saint Xavier University (Ill.), is among only 15 recipients of the 2012 National Football Foundation's National Scholar-Athlete Award in all of college football. Each recipient of this prestigious award, chosen for their combined athletic, academic and leadership abilities, receives an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship.

Zackery has a 3.71 grade-point average in business management with an emphasis in marketing and finance, and he led the Cougars to the 2011 NAIA National Football Championship title, finishing the game with nine receptions for 78 yards and a touchdown. Zackery was named a 2011 CoSIDA First Team Academic All-America in the college division as well as a 2011 Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete.

"First of all, I want to thank our sports information director Rob Huizenga for nominating me for this award and our football coach Mike Feminis for giving me the opportunity to play football at this amazing university," Zackery said.  "When I looked at the list of other finalists, I was speechless, because they are a very impressive group and I want to pass along my congratulations to all of them as well.  Also, I want to thank the National Football Foundation for selecting me for this prestigious honor."

This season, Zackery leads the Cougars in receptions (46), receiving yards (654) and touchdowns (7).  He also has coordinated team activities for Saint Xavier's annual "Service Day" and volunteered his time to help host a free football clinic for underprivileged kids in conjunction with a local Salvation Army Community Center in Chicago. His top two choices for postgraduate study are Northwestern University and DePaul University.

"This is a tremendous honor for Shane, and he is such a deserving person," said Saint Xavier football coach Mike Feminis.  "As good as he is on the field, Shane has always understood the importance of academics and he has obviously excelled in the classroom as well.  From a character standpoint, Shane is one of the nicest and most respectful young men I have ever coached.  Put all of those qualities together and what you have is a really special kid who is going to be a great success in life.  To be one of only 15 players selected from every level of college football is absolutely incredible.   I could not be happier for Shane and his family."

"The 2012 National Scholar-Athlete Class represents all that is right about college football," said NFF Chairman Archie Manning, whose sons Peyton (Campbell winner) and Eli were NFF National Scholar-Athletes in 1997 and 2003, respectively. "They have displayed the same competitive fire to win in the classroom that has distinguished them as some of the best football players in the country. In addition, each has found time to give back with an impressive list of leadership roles in their respective communities.  Ensuring that they continue their education with an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship is a privilege, and we know that they have only begun to reach their potential."

Joining Zackery as members of the 2012 National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete Class are:  University of Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley, Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead, Texas Tech safety Cody Davis, University of Mount Union (Ohio) safety Nick Driskill, Baylor quarterback Nick Florence, Northern Illinois defensive tackle Nabal Jefferson, Alabama center Barrett Jones, West Texas A&M offensive lineman Aaron Mullane, Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib, Robert Morris University (Pa.) defensive end Nolan Nearhoof, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) offensive lineman Ethan Peterson, Duke University quarterback Sean Renfree, University of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o and Northwestern University offensive tackle Patrick Ward.

Nominated by their schools, which are limited to one nominee each, 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. 

Each member of the 2012 National Scholar-Athlete Class will travel to New York City to be honored Tuesday, December 4, during the 55th Annual NFF Awards Dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria.  The 15 National Football Foundation (NFF) honorees also comprise the list of finalists for the 2012 William V. Campbell Trophy, endowed by HealthSouth, which recognizes an individual as the best football scholar-athlete in the nation.  The finalists were selected from a nationwide pool of 147 semifinalists from among all NCAA divisions and the NAIA.  Zackery was the only NAIA player represented in this year's class.

The 147 semifinalists for the award, announced earlier this fall, included nine from the NAIA, including Zackery:  Jouan Cox, Bethel University (Tenn.); Cody McCallister, Cumberland University (Tenn.); John Niesen, Dakota State University (S.D.); Mitchell Thornton, Faulkner University (Ala.); Jacob Snodgrass, McPherson College (Kan.); Joel Woodhead, Peru State College (Neb.); Jay Bright, University of the Cumberlands (Ky.); and Mason Woods, William Penn University (Iowa).