Wartman finalist for academic Heisman

More news about: St. Thomas
Ben Wartman has had his struggles on the field this year but has always excelled in the classroom.
Photo by Ryan Coleman, d3photography.com

St. Thomas running back Ben Wartman is among 16 college seniors announced today as recipients of the National Football Foundation's 2010 National Scholar-Athlete Awards.

The award comes with an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship and will be presented Dec. 7 at a black-tie dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. One of the 16 honorees will be selected to receive the William V. Campbell Trophy (formerly known as the Draddy Award or "Academic Heisman").

Wartman is the lone Division III athlete to receive the honor in 2010, and Minnesota-Duluth running back Isaac Odim is the lone Division II recipient. The other 14 players come from FBS teams Stanford, Notre Dame, Alabama, Penn State, Florida State, Wisconsin, Texas, Boston College, Cal, Indiana, Columbia, Colorado, Mississippi State and Bucknell.

The elite group was chosen from 121 semifinalists in FBS, FCS, NAIA, NCAA Diviison II and III.

Just four MIAC players have previously received the elite postgraduate scholarship, including St. Thomas' Andrew Hilliard (2002) and P.J. Theisen (2006).

“Ben personifies all that is right with college football as well as the University of St. Thomas," said coach Glenn Caruso. "The beauty of this school is that it consistently attracts young men like Ben who feel strongly about their pursuit of excellence both in the classroom as well as on the field, and allows for that balance to occur.  Ben has worked tirelessly at his studies as well as being the best teammate he can be.  As a coach, I am elated with the well-rounded man he has become and could not be prouder of Ben’s representation of our University and our program.”

Wartman, a Prior Lake native with a 3.90 GPA in Business, has an impressive resume in athletics, academics and service.

On the field, he was one of two Division III players in 2009 named first-team All-America and first-team CoSIDA All-America. He helped UST to an 11-2 finish and its first NCAA playoff berth in 19 seasons. He ranked third among all NCAA players and closed with 1,827 rushing yards, which ranks second in conference and UST history behind Gary Trettel's 1,861 yards in 1990. Wartman also had 2,118 all-purpose yards. His 24 touchdowns in 2009 broke a 19-year-old school record, tied for second most in Division III, and tied for third most in MIAC history.

He’s surpassed 100 rushing yards 22 of his last 27 outings, and the Toms are 20-2 in those games. (He had 300 yards in a 2008 loss to Augsburg; 143 yards in the 2009 playoff loss at Linfield; and 324 yards in three games against St. John’s.) In 29 career games at running back, Wartman has 3,703 rushing yards and 44 touchdowns. He's helped St. Thoams post a 26-5 record in his era and build an 8-0 record and No. 4 national ranking thus far in 2010.

Last January he coordinated the UST Football for Haiti collection drive that raised $1,419 in less than one week. He also spent a week in Costa Rica on a mission trip at Camp Penuel, a church-affiliated camp for underprivileged kids. Wartman is also active with St. Thomas' Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and coordinated a Kicking for Special Olympics drive last spring and helped with the campus Toys for Tots drive last December. He's also been active at his former high school, Prior Lake, with volunteer duties with their sports teams. 

He played baseball in 2009 and played all 12 innings at catcher with two hits and threw two runners out stealing in a 3-2 NCAA championship game victory over Wooster.