Willamette University running back Dylan Jones '15 has been selected as one of 10 semifinalists for the Gagliardi Trophy, which is presented each year to the most outstanding player in NCAA Division III. The award has been given out annually since 1993.
The Gagliardi Trophy is sponsored by Jostens and the J-Club of St. John's University of Minnesota. The award is named after John Gagliardi, long-time head coach at St. John's, who achieved 489 career victories, the most in college football history. The award honors football excellence as well as academics and community service.
A total of 16 players were nominated for this year's trophy. The overall list included 10 quarterbacks, three running backs, two offensive linemen and one cornerback. The J-Club Board of Directors selected the 10 semifinalists.
The national-selection committee, which will reduce the 10 semifinalists to the final four nominees, includes 40 former small college football players, former Gagliardi Trophy recipients, business leaders, academicians and sports writers from throughout the country.
Fans will provide the 41st vote through on-line voting at D3football.com between now and Monday, Dec. 8. The final four nominees will be announced on Tuesday, Dec. 9.
The 2014 Gagliardi Trophy will be presented on Wednesday, Dec. 17, in Salem, Va., during a banquet to kick off the NCAA Division III Championship weekend, which culminates with the Stagg Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 20. The four finalists will be flown to Salem for the banquet.
Jones is one of five semifinalists who are seniors. The other seniors are Michael Bates, quarterback at Illinois College; Kevn Burke, quarterback at University of Mount Union (Ohio); Brady Grayvold, cornerback at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater; and Dominique Hayden, running back from Thomas More College (Ky.). Burke received the Gagliardi Trophy last year.
Five juniors also were named semifinalists. They are Joe Callahan, quarterback at Wesley College (Del.); Matt Pawlowski, quarterback at Guilford College (N.C.); Logan Schrader, quarterback at Wartburg College (Iowa); Sam Sura, running back at St. John's; and Josh Warbington, East Texas Baptist University quarterback.
Jones carried the ball 237 times this season and rushed for a school record 1,599 yards. He led NCAA Division III with 177.7 rushing yards per game. He also finished fifth in Division III in scoring with 12.0 points per game. He scored 18 rushing touchdowns.
During his Willamette career, Jones rushed 484 times for 2,857 yards, just two yards short of the school record. He scored 34 career rushing touchdowns, and also scored twice on pass receptions, giving him 36 touchdowns overall. He scored 216 career points.
He rushed for more than 120 yards in all nine games this season. He set a Willamette record by rushing for 350 yards against Whitworth University and set another record with a 98-yard rushing touchdown against Linfield College.
Jones was named Northwest Conference Football Offensive Student-Athlete of the Week three times this season. He was chosen for the award following games against Whitworth on Oct. 11, Linfield on Nov. 1 and University of Puget Sound on Nov. 15.
Willamette concluded the year with a 5-4 record, including 3-4 in the NWC. Jones helped the Bearcats average 258.9 rushing yards and 413.4 total yards per game. WU ranked 15th in NCAA Division III in rushing yards per game. The Bearcats averaged 31.9 points per game.