|In addition to D3football.com Offensive Player of the Year, Jackson Erdmann will take home some Johnnie-themed hardware.
Photo by Wade Gardner, d3photography.com
All-time Gagliardi Trophy winners
Mount Union players have won the Gagliardi Trophy seven times, while St. John's has won four times and Wesley twice. Here's the full list:
|2018||Jackson Erdmann||QB||St. John's|
|2016||Carter Hanson||LB||St. John's|
|2014||Kevin Burke||QB||Mount Union|
|2013||Kevin Burke||QB||Mount Union|
|2008||Greg Micheli||QB||Mount Union|
|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|
|1997||Bill Borchert||QB||Mount Union|
|1996||Lon Erickson||QB||Illinois Wesleyan|
|1995||Chris Palmer||WR||St. John's|
|1993||Jim Ballard||QB||Mount Union|
Saint John's junior quarterback Jackson Erdmann was named the 2018 recipient of the Gagliardi Trophy, as the most outstanding football player in NCAA Division III this fall, on Friday, Dec. 14, prior to the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl in Shenandoah, Texas.
Given annually since 1993 and sponsored by Jostens and the J-Club of Saint John's, the Gagliardi Trophy 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 in 2012 with 489 career victories, the most in college football history. Gagliardi passed away Oct. 7 at the age of 91.
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 2018 Player of the Year" and "Honoring Excellence in Football, Academics and Community Service" are etched on two panels below the figures.
Nominations were submitted by colleges across the country, and 13 semifinalists were selected by the J-Club Board of Directors. The semifinalists then moved on to the Gagliardi Trophy national-selection committee, which is comprised of 39 former small college football players, former Gagliardi Trophy recipients, business leaders, academicians and sports writers from around the country. Each cast a ballot ranking the semifinalists from 13 (top pick) to 1. A fan ballot, which served as the 40th committee member was operated on D3football.com and had nearly 17,000 votes cast.
The other three finalists were Shenandoah senior quarterback Hayden Bauserman, Trine senior running back Lamar Carswell and Wartburg senior quarterback Matt Sacia.
SJU is planning an award presentation for Erdmann at a later date.
“I am beyond honored to receive this award,” Erdmann said. “I want to thank my coaches, teammates, family and most importantly, God, for I am nothing without them. We really have the best offensive line, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends in the nation. It might not appear that way statistically, but it's because we have so many guys that play and we spread the ball around. They all make me look good and I wouldn't have this without them, so this is for all of us.
“I want to thank everyone that has contributed to our success this year, whether it's the scout team busting their butts every day at practice, the coaches putting in an insane amount of time creating a game plan, the endless support from our students, fans, parents and alumni, the training staff for keeping us healthy, our professors for being flexible or the equipment staff and janitors that make sure we have everything we need to succeed. This is a team effort, and I am honored to be a part of such a special program,” Erdmann added.
The 2018 D3football.com Offensive Player of the Year, Erdmann played only five of the 13 games to completion and leads NCAA Division III in three statistical categories: passing efficiency (189.8), passing touchdowns (47) and points responsible for (290). He is also third in yards per pass attempt (10.03), fourth in passing yardage (3,450) and ninth in yards per completion (15.40). The 2018 MIAC Most Valuable Player, Erdmann set single-game program records this fall for passing yards (470 on Oct. 13 vs. St. Thomas) and passing touchdowns (seven on Nov. 10 vs. Thomas More). Erdmann also set a single-season school record for passing touchdowns and fell 39 passing yards short of Tom Linnemann's school record of 3,489 set in 2000 (15 games).
“On behalf of our coaches, players and everyone associated with the Saint John’s football program, I want to congratulate Jackson Erdmann on being selected as the winner of the 2018 Gagliardi Trophy,” SJU head coach Gary Fasching said. “Jackson had an incredible year and is very deserving of the award. The Gagliardi Trophy means a tremendous amount to this program with it being named after our Hall of Fame coach John Gagliardi.
“Jackson epitomizes what this trophy is all about. He is a young man who is great in the classroom, exceptionally great in the community and great on the field. He is the ultimate team player, and I know he will want to share this award with all of his teammates. We are very proud of Jackson, and excited as he joins Chris Palmer, Blake Elliott and Carter Hanson as the other Gagliardi Trophy recipients here at SJU,” Fasching added.
Erdmann led the MIAC in completion percentage (65.1 percent), yards per attempt (10.1), touchdown passes (23) and passing efficiency (185.4) in conference play en route to his second consecutive All-MIAC first-team honor this fall. His 1,942 yards were good for second in the conference, despite playing only three full MIAC games.
He begins his senior season next fall second in SJU history in career passing touchdowns (92), fourth in passing yards (6,599), fifth in passing yards (5,876) and sixth in pass attempts (699). Erdmann has eight games of four passing touchdowns or more in his career and a 25-5 career record as a starter.
Erdmann was named to the 22-man Allstate AFCA Good Works Team in September and will be honored Jan. 1 during the halftime of the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. He started teaching an ESL class one night (1.5 hours) per week this fall and volunteered with SJU's Kids Fighting Hunger meal-packing event each of the last three years. He also helped the SJU football team raise money for Tackle Cancer and the "Up Till Dawn" campaign, collecting donations for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the last two seasons.
Last winter, Erdmann participated in an 18-day service trip to northern Thailand, where he worked with various organizations that fight child sex trafficking. He spent a week with Courageous Love, which is an organization that rescues victims of sex trafficking or children that are a high risk of being trafficked. During the week, Erdmann and others cleared and worked on new land to build new safe houses for the children. The group also built a playground and interacted with the children.
Erdmann also spent a day with Project Justice in an impoverished, mountain village. The village's children are frequently trafficked and/or use drugs. The group ended the service trip by spending five days with The Little Farm Thailand. Tasks included building fences and a goat house, gardening and chopping wood. He spent 2017's spring break working at the Breaking Free House in the Twin Cities, which is a safe place for victims of sex trafficking and prostitution to recover from their experiences.
Closer to home, Erdmann ran a church youth group last summer and served as a residential assistant in a freshman dormitory during the 2017-18 academic year.
He volunteered weekly at the Dream Center in St. Cloud during 2016's spring semester, serving meals and interacting with the men in the house. The Dream Center provides services for men, ages 18 and older, that need care, are struggling with mental health issues, chemical dependency issues, traumatic brain injury, learning disabilities and/or physical disabilities.