Known in many circles as the "Academic" Heisman, the Draddy Trophy continues to
be one of college football's most sought after and competitive awards,
recognizing an individual as the absolute best in the country for his combined
academic success, football performance and exemplary community leadership. The
award comes with a stunning 24-inch, 25-pound bronze trophy and a $25,000
postgraduate scholarship. A total of $320,000 was awarded to Leonard and the
other 16 Draddy Trophy Finalists, who each claimed $18,000 scholarships.
“We are proud to bestow this honor on Brian Leonard,” said NFF President
Steven J. Hatchell. “He represents an unbelievable group. We had 148
nominees of the greatest candidates ever nominated. Brian joins an elite group
of past recipients who serve the perfect role models for all young players to
Highly regarded as one of the nation’s premier fullbacks, Brian Leonard has
helped lead a renaissance with the Rutgers University football program. As the
Scarlet Knights made their rise to national prominence, Leonard also remained a
stellar role model off the field, collecting academic praise and playing a major
role in the community. A Labor & Employment Relations major, Leonard has claimed
Academic All-Conference honors three times and a spot on the ESPN The Magazine
Academic All-District First Team in 2005.
Leonard twice earned First Team All-America honors by Pro Football Weekly. A
two-time First Team All- Conference selection, Sports Illustrated recognized him
as one of the “most underrated players,” contributing as a tenacious blocker and
threat to run or catch the ball from the backfield. Leonard has rushed for
2,731yards and 1,862 receiving yards during his career. A 2006 team captain, he
has been instrumental in teammate Ray Rice’s Heisman Trophy push.
Active in his community, Leonard has participated in the American Cancer
Society’s Relay for Life walk and Read Across America. A volunteer in the
opening ceremonies of the New Jersey Special Olympics, he has traveled to
several local hospitals to visit with children and hand out gifts. Leonard also
serves as a speaker for high school athletics events and football camps. He
becomes Rutgers’ sixth National Scholar- Athlete and the first since Nathaniel
Jones in 2003.
Launched in 1959, the NFF scholar-athlete program became the first initiative in
history to credit a player for both academic and athletic accomplishments. The
centerpiece to the NFF’s scholar-athlete program, which has awarded $8.3 million
to 678 top athletes, the Draddy Trophy, first awarded in 1990, honors Manhattan
College Quarterback and former NFF Chairman Vincent dePaul Draddy.
Candidates must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of
eligibility, have a grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, have
outstanding football ability as a first team player and have demonstrated strong
leadership and citizenship. Leonard edged out 16 other National Scholar-Athlete
Award Winners, who all took home $18,000 scholarships.