MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – The honors keep coming in for Concordia University Wisconsin quarterback Austin Damaschke after an impressive junior season. On the same day he was named the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference Offensive Player of the Year, Damaschke has been named one of 10 finalists for the Gagliardi Trophy, awarded to the nation's most outstanding player.
For fans not familiar with the Gagliardi Trophy, consider it the Heisman of Division III Football. Damaschke was one of just three juniors to be named a finalist, the others being quarterbacks as well. Kevin Burke of national powerhouse University of Mount Union and Graham Craig of LaGrange College were the other two juniors.
It is believed that Damaschke is the first player in CUW history to be named a finalist for the award, which has been presented to the most outstanding player since 1993. He is also the first player in the history of the NACC to be named a finalist since the league was formed prior to the 2008 season.
Damaschke was dominant throughout his junior season as he finished with 3,171 passing yards, 24 touchdowns and a 62.8 completion percentage. In addition to throwing the ball all over the field, he proved to be a dual-threat quarterback rushing for 61 yards per game and 12 touchdowns.
The unique thing about the Gagliardi Trophy is that it recognizes not only excellence on the football field, but also in academics and community service. Damaschke is a two-time NACC Scholar Athlete, and also volunteers a lot of his time to various events, including church activities and football camps.
Besides the three juniors, seven seniors were also chosen as finalists. Five of the 10 finalists are quarterbacks and seven are offensive players. The seven senior finalists are McCallum Foote (Middlebury College, QB), Cole Klotz (UW-Whitewater, LB), Kyle Linville (Franklin College, WR), Octavias McKoy (Western Connecticut State University, RB), Adham Talaat (Gallaudet University, DE), Keith Welch (Lewis & Clark College, QB) and Erik Westerberg (Augustana College, LB).
The Gagliardi Trophy is named after legendary Saint John's University coach John Gagliardi. He retired in 2012 with 489 career victories, the most in Division III football. For more on all of these candidates and the award, visit the Gagliardi Trophy homepage.
To vote for Damaschke in the Gagliardi Trophy poll on D3Football.com, click here. The fan vote counts for one collective vote, while 38 committee members will also have one vote. The top four vote getters will be invited to the trophy presentation, which is set for December 18 in Salem, Va. as the presentation kicks off Division III Championship weekend.