JONESBORO, Ark. (11/1/17) – Arkansas State senior cornerback and return specialist Blaise Taylor has been named one of just 13 finalists for the prestigious 2017 William V. Campbell Trophy, announced Wednesday by the National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame.
As one of the 13 finalists for the Campbell Trophy, Taylor also becomes the second A-State student-athlete to ever be named an NFF National Scholar-Athlete. Arkansas State University alumnus and current Board of Trustees member Dr. Tim Langford, a 1980-83 A-State letterman and All-Southland Conference quarterback, earned the honor in 1983.
Taylor and Georgia State safety Chandon Sullivan have both been tabbed 2017 Campbell Trophy finalists, making them the first two players in Sun Belt Conference history to be named an NFF National Scholar-Athlete. The trophy, presented by Fidelity Investments, recognizes an individual as the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation.
The 13 finalists will each receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship as a member of the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class. Taylor and the other finalists will travel to New York City for the 60th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 5, where their accomplishments will be highlighted in front of one of the most powerful audiences in all of sports.
One member of the class will be declared the winner of the 28th William V. Campbell Trophy at the event and have his postgraduate scholarship increased to $25,000. The event, which will take place at the New York Hilton Midtown, will be live streamed on ESPN3, starting at 7:30 p.m. CT.
“We are all extremely excited to learn that Blaise has been named an NFF National Scholar-Athlete and a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, two of the most prestigious awards a student-athlete can achieve,” said A-State Director of Athletics Terry Mohajir. “This is a monumental honor for Blaise and his family, the football team and Arkansas State University. This is also another confirmation that student-athletes can have high success in the classroom and on the playing field.”
A two-time All-Sun Belt Conference selection highlighted in a Sports Illustrated article as 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 was selected as a finalist from a nationwide pool of 181 exceptional semifinalists from among all NCAA divisions and the NAIA.
Candidates for the award must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of eligibility, possess a GPA of at least 3.2, have outstanding football ability as a first-team player or significant contributor and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship. The National Scholar-Athlete Class is selected each year by the NFF Awards Committee, which is comprised of a nationally recognized group of media, College Football Hall of Famers and athletics administrators.
“This is obviously a tremendous honor for Blaise, and we couldn’t be more excited that he has earned this extraordinary recognition for his hard work and commitment to academics, community service and our football team,” said A-State head football coach Blake Anderson. “His accomplishments are remarkable and a reflection of the outstanding type of person and leader he is.”
Taylor earned his Master of Business Administration in August 2017 with a 3.82 GPA, and he also graduated Magna Cum Laude in August 2016 with his bachelor’s degree in business administration. A member of the Arkansas State University Chancellor’s List, Dean’s List, Athletics Director’s Honor Roll and Sun Belt Conference Commissioner’s List, Taylor earned both degrees in less than four years.
The Waco, Texas, native has been named a Top 10 junior in the College of Business, and he is a recipient of the Strong-Turner 3.0 Society Award. Taylor was also one of just eight students to receive a prestigious Distinguished Service Award from Arkansas State University in April 2017.
A 2017 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team nominee, Senior CLASS Award candidate and two-time Wuerffel Trophy Watch List member, Taylor has been heavily involved in community service while also spending time on the Arkansas State Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. He recently created a non-profit organization with his sister, sophomore A-State women’s basketball guard Starr Taylor, titled “The Power of 1 and 2.” The organization is designed to work with underprivileged at-risk children. He is highly invested in working with at-risk youth, including participating at a local alternative school called Success Academy.
Taylor is active with Fellowship of Christian Athletes and has organized and coordinated student-athletes’ efforts to sponsor a child at Christmas by collecting monetary donations and purchasing gifts on the children’s Christmas lists.
A speaker at the first ever Annie Camp Junior High School football team’s “Mom’s Night,” Taylor has also been an Autism Walk participant, acted as a Special Olympics volunteer and worked with community health and wellness education activities, as well as alcohol and drug awareness events. He is a Word Campus Church member, where he has also participated in community service events. Additionally, Taylor volunteers at local schools and churches as part of team community service projects, and he participated in the “Feed the Children” event at the 2016 Cure Bowl.
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 88 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, five interceptions, 23 pass break-ups, a forced fumble and a blocked kick while earning all-conference recognition in both 2014 and 2016.
A member of the 2017 Hornung Award Watch List, Taylor is four-time Sun Belt Conference Special Teams Player of the Week and was named the College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) national Punt Returner of the Week on Nov. 17, 2014. He is the A-State career record holder for career punt return yards (1,089), which is also the second most ever by a Sun Belt Conference player.
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 1,089 career punt return yards are the second most in the nation among active players.