JONESBORO, Ark. – Arkansas State senior cornerback and return specialist Blaise Taylor was named Monday as one of three finalists for the Wuerffel Trophy, known as “College Football’s Premier Award for Community Service,” which is presented annually in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.
With today’s announcement, Taylor becomes the first student-athlete in Arkansas State history to be named a finalist for at least two of the 23 prestigious awards comprising the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which includes both the Wuerffel Trophy and William V. Campbell Trophy. He is the only student-athlete in the nation this year to be named to the finalist list for both of the major college football awards.
Taylor is also the first A-State player to be named a finalist for one of the awards making up the NCFAA since former place kicker Josh Arauco earned the recognition for the Lou Groza Award in 2008.
The Wuerffel Trophy, named after Wuerffel, the 1996 Heisman Trophy winning quarterback from the University of Florida, is awarded to the Football Bowl Subdivision player who best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement.
Joining Taylor as the finalists for the award are Kentucky senior linebacker Courtney Love and Notre Dame senior linebacker Drue Tranquill.
Voting for the Wuerffel Trophy is performed by a National Selection Committee that includes college football television and print media, industry notables, former head coaches and prior Wuerffel Trophy recipients. The formal announcement of the 2017 Wuerffel Trophy recipient will be on Dec. 5, 2017, at the National Football Foundation’s press conference in New York City.
The 2017 Wuerffel Trophy recipient will be interviewed at "The Home Depot College Football Awards Red Carpet Show" on ESPNU and ESPN3 on Dec. 7, 2017, airing at 5 p.m. CST, featuring interviews with award winners and finalists as they approach The Home Depot College Football Awards Show at the College Football Hall of Fame in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. The presentation of the 2017 Wuerffel Trophy will occur at the 49th Annual All Sports Association Awards Banquet on Feb. 16, 2018, in Fort Walton Beach.
Past winners of the Wuerffel Trophy are: 2016 Trevor Knight, Texas A&M University; 2015 Ty Darlington, University of Oklahoma; 2014 Deterrian Shackelford, University of Mississippi; 2013 Gabe Ikard, University of Oklahoma; 2012 Matt Barkley, University of Southern California; 2011 Barrett Jones, University of Alabama; 2010 Sam Acho, University of Texas; 2009 Tim Hiller, Western Michigan University; 2008 Tim Tebow, University of Florida; 2007 Paul Smith, University of Tulsa; 2006 Joel Penton, Ohio State University; and 2005 Rudy Niswanger, Louisiana State University.
Taylor is a semifinalist for the inaugural Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award as well, while he was also a 2017 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team nominee, a Senior CLASS Award candidate, and a member of the 2017 Hornung Watch List.
A two-time All-Sun Belt Conference selection, Taylor is the only current FBS player in the nation to earn both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees before the start of his true senior season. Taylor has been heavily involved in community service and recently created a non-profit organization with his sister, sophomore A-State women’s basketball guard Starr Taylor, titled “The Power of 1 or 2.”
Taylor is a 2017 Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference selection as both a return specialist (first team) and defensive back (second team). His football career has seen him pile up 96 tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss, five interceptions, 27 pass break-ups, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and a blocked kick while earning all-conference recognition in both 2014 and 2016.
He is the Sun Belt Conference’s second all-time leader in career punt return yards (1,105) and needs just two passes defended to break the league’s career record (33). The senior standout holds four of the top-10 marks in school history for punt return yards in a game, as well as in a season. He is the second all-time leader in Sun Belt Conference history for punt returns for a touchdown (4), while his 1,105 career punt return yards are the second most in the nation among active players.