Gagliardi finalists: Hanson, Heitland, Riddle, Barnes

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d3photography.com photos by Caleb Williams (Carter Hanson); Ryan Coleman (Trevor Heitland); Joe Fusco (Sam Riddle) and Matt McClure (Matt Barnes)

Linebacker Carter Hanson from Saint John's, Coe running back Trevor Heitland, Linfield quarterback Sam Riddle and Monmouth linebacker Matt Barnes have been named finalists for the 2016 Gagliardi Trophy, given to the most outstanding football player in NCAA Division III by Jostens and the J-Club of Saint John's (Minn.).

The 24th annual Gagliardi Trophy will be presented on Wednesday, Dec. 14, in Salem, Va., at a banquet kicking off the Division III championship weekend, which culminates in the Stagg Bowl on Friday, Dec. 16. The four finalists, all of them seniors, will be on hand for the announcement of the winner and presentation of the trophy at the banquet, which will be video webcast live on D3football.com.

The Gagliardi Trophy, given annually since 1993, recognizes excellence in athletics, academics and community service. The award is named after John Gagliardi, Saint John's legendary Hall of Fame head football coach, who retired after the 2012 season with 489 career victories, the most in college football history. 

Nominations were submitted by schools across the country, and the semifinalists were selected by the J-Club Board of Directors. The Gagliardi Trophy national-selection committee is comprised of 40 former college football players, former Gagliardi Trophy recipients, business leaders, academicians and sports writers from around the country. Each casts a ballot ranking the finalists.

College football fans also voted online through D3football.com, and their tally, totaling 21,852 votes, represented the 41st committee member. Senior linebacker Cory Ward from Hardin-Simmons received the highest number of online fan votes with 7,022.

The other Gagliardi Trophy semifinalists were UW-Whitewater defensive lineman John Flood, Alfred linebacker A.J. LiCata, Mary Hardin-Baylor safety/punter Baylor Mullins, Washington U. quarterback J.J. Tomlin, Ward and Hendrix running back Dayton Winn.

The trophy design features a sculpture of Gagliardi and a player, representing the teacher-coach and the student-athlete in a one-on-one sideline consultation. Hand-cast in bronze on a polished wood base, the trophy stands nearly two feet tall and weighs approximately 64 pounds. The words "The Gagliardi Trophy presented by Jostens & J-Club” are printed on the acrylic panel behind the figures. The words “Division III 2016 Player of the Year" and "Honoring Excellence in Football, Academics and Community Service" are etched on two panels below the figures.

About the finalists (all stats through the end of the regular season): 

Matt Barnes, Monmouth
6-0, 225 | Senior | Linebacker | Spanish and International Business

Is Monmouth’s leader in total tackles (108), solo tackles (38) and assisted tackles (70)…captained a defense that led Division III in both scoring defense (8.4 ppg.) and passing defense (116.4 ypg.), third in total defense (199.0 ypg.), fifth in first downs allowed (107) and fifth in third-down defense (.240)…recipient of Tom Johnson academic scholarship, awarded to college’s top business student…three-time Academic All-Conference…2016 CoSIDA Academic All-District…six-time Dean’s List honoree…assisted with Mortar Board Breast Cancer Awareness fundraiser.

Carter Hanson, Saint John’s
5-10, 195 | Senior | Linebacker | Global Business Leadership

Is the only finalist from Division III for the 2016 NFF Campbell Trophy, which is awarded to the top scholar-athlete in college football…leading tackler (62) on a defense that ranked second in Division III in both total defense (195.6 ypg.) and pass-efficiency defense (84.65), third in both rushing defense (60.0 ypg.) and first downs allowed (106), and fourth in scoring defense (10.7 ppg.)…2015 CoSIDA Academic All-American…helped establish a sustainable food source for a village in Haiti during January 2016…volunteers with Kids Against Hunger, Special Olympics and Tackle Cancer, and raised money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Trevor Heitland, Coe
5-11, 196 | Senior | Running Back | Business Administration and Accounting

IIAC’s Offensive Most Valuable Player…led NCAA Division III in all-purpose yards per game (217.6) and was second in rushing yards (1,619) and ninth in total touchdowns (18)…had four 200-yard rushing games during the regular season…contributes to Meals on Wheels, Hawkeye Area Community Action Program, Read Across America and various youth football camps.
Sam Riddle, Linfield
6-2, 205 | Senior | Quarterback | Business Management

Two-time NWC Offensive Player of the Year…finished sixth in Division III in yards per pass attempt (10.01) and tied for ninth with 31 passing touchdowns in nine games…produced 2,714 yards of total offense…set career records for total offense and touchdowns responsible for at Linfield…helped raise money for the team sponsorship of two young men from Africa and Bolivia through World Vision, and to provide food for a local family over Christmas.

All-time Gagliardi Trophy winners

Mount Union players have won the Gagliardi Trophy seven times, while St. John's and Wesley players have each won twice. Here's the full list:

Year Player Pos. School
2015 Joe Callahan QB Wesley
2014 Kevin Burke QB Mount Union
2013 Kevin Burke QB Mount Union
2012 Scottie Williams RB Elmhurst
2011 Michael Zweifel WR Dubuque
2010 Eric Watt QB Trine 
2009 Blaine Westemeyer OL Augustana
2008 Greg Micheli QB Mount Union
2007 Justin Beaver RB UW-Whitewater
2006 Josh Brehm QB Alma
2005 Brett Elliott QB Linfield
2004 Rocky Myers SS Wesley
2003 Blake Elliott WR/RET St. John's
2002 Dan Pugh RB Mount Union
2001 Chuck Moore RB Mount Union
2000 Chad Johnson QB Pacific Lutheran
1999 Danny Ragsdale QB Redlands
1998 Scott Hvistendahl WR/P Augsburg
1997 Bill Borchert QB Mount Union
1996 Lon Erickson QB Illinois Wesleyan
1995 Chris Palmer WR St. John's
1994 Carey Bender RB Coe
1993 Jim Ballard QB Mount Union
Dec. 14: All times Eastern
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 24, Mount Union 16
@ Woodforest Bank Stadium; Shenandoah, Texas
Box Score Recap Photos
Dec. 8: All times Eastern
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 31, UW-Whitewater 14
Box Score Recap Photos
at Mount Union 28, Johns Hopkins 20
Video Box Score Recap Photos
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