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BEA grad Franta up for national trophies, awards

By Staff | Oct 1, 2017

The National Football Foundation (NFF) and College Hall of Fame today named Saint John’s University senior linebacker David Franta (Winnebago/Blue Earth Area) as one of the 181 semifinalists for the 2017 William V. Campbell Trophy (formerly known as the Draddy Trophy), endowed by Fidelity Investments, and is a candidate for the 2017 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards.

Franta is one of 33 football student-athletes from NCAA Division III and one of three from the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) to be honored by the NFF (Bethel linebacker Josh Dalki and St. Thomas defensive back Isaac Seering).

The award recognizes an individual as the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation, and up to 16 of the candidates will be named recipients of a prestigious NFF National Scholar-Athlete Award. Launched in 1959, the NFF National Scholar-Athlete program awards $18,000 scholarships that can be used for the honorees’ postgraduate education.

This year’s 12-14 finalists will be announced Nov. 1, and one will be declared the winner of the Campbell Trophy Dec. 5 at the 60th NFF Annual Awards Dinner in New York City. The postgraduate scholarship for the Campbell Trophy’s recipient is increased to $25,000.

Franta’s long-time friend and teammate from Blue Earth and SJU, Carter Hanson ’17, was selected as one of the 12 finalists for the Campbell Trophy last fall.

Nominated by their schools, which are limited to one nominee each, candidates for the awards must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of eligibility, have a GPA of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first-team player or significant contributor and demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship. The class is selected each year by the NFF Awards Committee, which is comprised of a nationally recognized group of media, members of the College Football Hall of Fame and athletics administrators.

A two-time Academic All-MIAC and three-time dean’s list (minimum 3.80 GPA) honoree, Franta is a nursing major with a 3.80 GPA. He is expected to earn his third Academic All-MIAC honor in January and is a recipient of the Trustees Scholarship at SJU, which is the highest merit-based scholarship offered and is awarded based on the highest levels of academic achievement, involvement in extracurricular activities, leadership and service. Franta intends to pursue a master’s degree in nursing or continue his education in the field of anesthesiology.

In the community, Franta volunteered with Kids Against Hunger in March 2017, where he helped pack over 82,400 meals to benefit Somalia and the local food shelves. He has 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 three seasons.

He conducted clinicals (four hours once a week during fall semester 2016, four hours twice a week during spring semester 2017) at St. Cloud Hospital, where he was paired with a veteran from the local VA Hospital. Franta also volunteered a total of 16 hours, providing educational, community outreach at Prince of Peace Lutheran School in Sartell. He interned at the Mayo Clinic’s Progressive Care unit during summer 2017 and will work with Stearns County Public Health in 2017-18.

Franta has started all four games this season and leads the team in all three tackle categories: solo (16), assisted (13) and total (29). He returned his second career interception 39 yards for a touchdown Sept. 2 in the season opener against St. Scholastica and has 103 tackles (52 solo), 4.5 tackles for a loss and two fumble recoveries in 37 career games.

No. 9/12 SJU (3-1, 1-1 MIAC) plays host to face Bethel (1-3, 1-1 MIAC) for Family Weekend and the program’s Tackle Cancer game at 1 p.m. this Saturday, Sept. 30, in Collegeville.