National Football Foundation Announces Area College Scholar-Athletes
NFF Gridiron Club of Dallas Announces
2012 College Scholar-Athlete Class
Nine College Stars to be Honored April 16 at Marriott Quorum
IRVING, April 12, 2012 – The National Football Foundation (NFF) Gridiron Club of Dallas announced today the nine college scholar-athletes who will be honored at the club’s fourth annual banquet April 16 at the Marriott Quorum in Addison, Texas. The nine college scholar-athletes will join the 58 high school scholars previously announced.
“These college scholars represent the absolute cream of the crop in college athletics. Their will to succeed is clear in all areas of their lives, and this recognition is a direct spotlight on their incredible hard work and leadership skills,” said Gerald Brence, president of the NFF Gridiron Club of Dallas and athletics director for the Plano Independent School District.
With doors opening at 6 p.m. and the ceremony starting at 7 p.m., the event will showcase the stories of excellence in football, academics and leadership in North Texas that will inspire future student-athletes to succeed in the classroom and become more involved in their communities. The event will also pay tribute to several outstanding individuals for their contributions to the game and the North Texas region. Longtime Dallas Cowboys vice president of player personnel Gil Brandt will accept the Distinguished Texan Award, the gridiron club’s most prestigious award. Other awards remaining to be announced include the Legends Award, the Athletics Director of the Year, the Steve Storie Official of the Year, and the high school coaches and assistant coaches of the year.
The nine scholar-athletes were selected as the best from the entire region at the collegiate level for their combined achievements as students, athletes and leaders in their respective communities. The selection committee included coaches, teachers, administrators and business leaders from the North Texas area.
Kelvin Beachum, SMU – Beachum started all 52 career games at left tackle upon his arrival to the Hilltop in 2008, and he helped lead an offensive renaissance under head coach June Jones. A three-time All-Conference USA honoree, he helped SMU set single-season school records in total offense, passing offense, rushing offense and scoring. The Mexia, Texas, native was a member of the Watch List for both the Outland and Lombardi trophies, made the Dave Campbell’s Texas Football All-Texas College Team three times, was one of 12 student-athletes to receive the C-USA Spirit of Service Award in 2009, made the C-USA All-Academic Team in 2011 and served as SMU SAAC President. After enduring a 1-11 season in 2008, Beachum helped SMU post a 23-17 record during his final three seasons, which included three bowl appearances, the Mustangs’ first bowl victory in 25 years and a C-USA West Division championship.
Lance Dunbar, North Texas – The most-accomplished rusher in North Texas history, Dunbar holds Mean Green career records for rushing yards (4,224), all-purpose yardage (5,375), touchdowns scored (49), rushing touchdowns (41), points scored (294) and shares the school record with 21 career 100-yard rushing games. The only player in school history with three consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons, the Haltom City, Texas, native holds two of the top four single-season rushing touchdown marks and two of the top five single-season rushing yardage records. A two-time First Team All-Sun Belt honoree, the 2009 Sports Illustrated Honorable Mention All-American capped his career with a 40-carry, 313-yard (a single-game school record), four-touchdown performance in a 59-7 win over Middle Tennessee.
Nick Florence, Baylor – Carrying a 3.79 grade-point average as an economics major, Florence has qualified for the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor List four times and was twice named to the Dean’s List. The Garland, Texas, product spent the 2010 and 2011 seasons as Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III’s backup, appearing in a total of eight games and posting 206 passing yards and two touchdowns. As a true freshman in 2009, Florence stepped in for an injured Griffin III and started seven of the team’s final nine games, completing 165-of-266 passes for 1,786 yards with six touchdowns and nine interceptions while adding for 62 rushing yards and three scores. The 2009 Academic All-Big 12 First Team honoree set a single-game school record by passing for 427 yards on 32-of-43 passing with three touchdowns and no picks in a 40-32 upset of two-time defending Big 12 North champion Missouri. Florence is expected to battle for the starting quarterback spot for the 2012 season.
Taylor Fore, Texas A&M – Commerce – Named the Lone Star Conference Academic Player of the Year, Fore joined his brother Marcus on the Capital One Academic All-District IV team in 2011. The Fort Worth, Texas, product tied the school’s single-season receptions record as a senior, hauling in 58 catches for 561 yards and two touchdowns while earning Honorable Mention All-Lone Star Conference honors. He also served as the team’s punt returner, taking back 17 punts for 149 yards. For his career, Fore ranks fourth in school history with 125 catches for 1,549 yards with six touchdowns.
Seth Hubbard, East Texas Baptist – A three-year letterman at quarterback, Hubbard earned All-American Southwest Conference honors and Academic All-ASC accolades three times. He also holds the school’s single-game touchdown passes record. In 2011, Hubbard connected on 48-of-96 passes for 728 yards with eight touchdowns and four interceptions. A native of Beckville, Texas, Hubbard was valedictorian of his high school class while playing for his father, Donald Hubbard. He has earned a bachelor’s degree education and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in the same field.
Levi Kirkland, Tarleton State – In 2011, Kirkland appeared in all 11 games for Tarleton State at linebacker, registering 17 tackles, three TFL, one sack, one forced fumble and one quarterback hit. The Robinson, Texas, product helped Tarleton State rebound from a 1-5 start to close the year on a five-game winning streak. As a sophomore, Kirkland earned Lone Star Conference Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll honors while helping the Texans share the LSC title and appear in the Division II playoffs. He has also been an active member of Rocky Point Baptist Church, participating in numerous mission trips and service projects.
Braydon MaQuar, Austin College – Pacing the Kangaroos with 45 receptions for 307 yards and one touchdown, MaQuar also rushed 36 times for 89 yards to finish fourth on the team in all-purpose yardage in 2011. The two time All-Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference honoree finished second on the club in 2010 with 44 grabs for 423 yards and four touchdowns, and caught 13 passes for 161 yards as a sophomore in 2009. The Forney, Texas, product is also a two-time Dean’s List honoree as a business administration major and qualified for the Academic All-SCAC team three times.
Spencer Thompson, TCU – A native of Plainview, Texas, Thompson appeared 36 games during his career all across the offensive line. Most importantly, he earned the distinction of being one of just three players across the nation to complete his master’s degree before playing his final game. He received a bachelor’s degree in finance with minors in accounting and communications in December 2010, and earned a master’s degree in liberal arts in December 2011. Additionally, Thompson won the team’s Grassy Hinton Most Conscientious Award and the Abe Martin Leadership Award in 2011. Thompson contributed to a golden era of TCU football, helping TCU achieve a 47-5 overall record with three Mountain West Conference championships, a victory in the 2011 Rose Bowl and four finishes in the top-15 of the final AP poll, peaking at No. 2 following the 2010 season.
Travis Veitenheimer, Midwestern State – Veitenheimer helped Midwestern State achieve enormous offensive success in 2011. The Mustangs ranked second in Division II in scoring with an average of 48.6 points per game, while also ranking first in total offense (531.9 yards per game), second in rushing offense (323.5), sixth in passing efficiency (161.19) and fifth in sacks allowed (.82). The Windthorst, Texas, native aided Midwestern State to a 10-0 regular season and their second Lone Star Conference championship in three years. He is a pre-med student who majored in biology and minored in chemistry, carrying a 3.86 GPA while making the President’s List every semester of his college career. He was also named MSU’s top biology student in 2011, and volunteered significant hours with the Boys and Girls Club, YMCA and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
The 2011 event attracted a sellout crowd of 700 people. For more information on 2012 tickets and/or banquet sponsorship opportunities, please contact club president Gerald Brence at 469-878-5370 or via e-mail at Gerald.Brence@pisd.edu.