COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. - Guilford College senior Matt Pawlowski is a semifinalist for the 2015 Gagliardi Trophy, awarded to NCAA Division III's most outstanding football player. The J-Club of Saint John's University of Minnesota, which presents the annual prize along with Jostens, announced the 10 semifinalists Monday.
The honorees were chosen by the J-Club's Board of Directors and advance to a national ballot. A selection committee comprised of media, coaches and former Division III football standouts will choose the winner. The recipient which will be announced Dec. 16 in Salem, Virginia, prior to the 2015 Stagg Bowl, NCAA Division III's Championship game. Division III football fans can also participate in on-line voting at www.d3football.com. On Dec. 8, the J-Club will identify four finalists invited to the announcement ceremony.
Pawlowski recently completed one of the finest football seasons in Guilford history. The 6-2, 205-pound quarterback completed a school-record 39 touchdown passes, which ranks third in Division III and is the second-highest total in Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) history. He connected on 227-of-350 passes (64.9%) for 3,333 yards with just two interceptions. Through games of Nov. 23, Pawlowski stands fifth in Division III in passing yards, passing yards per game (333.3), and sixth in total offense per game (344.1). He was responsible for 236 of Guilford's points this season, which matched his school record of a year ago. His 64.9 completion percentage is second in school history and his 354.1 total offensive yards per game stand fourth.
A three-time ODAC Offensive Player of the Week this season, Pawlowski had six 300-yard passing games and seven tilts with at least four passing scores. He won 11 of the league's weekly awards in his career. His first of 2015 came after throwing for 251 yards and five scores in the Quakers' 41-21 win over Randolph-Macon College. His school- and league-record 611-yard, seven-touchdown passing effort the following week against Catholic University of America netted his second league prize, as well as D3football.com/Scoutware Team of the Week honors. Pawlowski completed 36-of-47 passes for 411 yards and four scores in Guilford's season finale, a 41-30 victory versus Emory & Henry College. The win helped Guilford set the school-record for wins (9) in a season.
Pawlowski finished second to former Division III passing yardage leader Josh Vogelbach '09 in most of Guilford's career passing categories. The four-year starter completed 872-of-1,369 passes for a school-record 63.7 completion percentage, 11,625 yards and 116 scores with 16 interceptions. In his final two years, Pawlowski threw for 6,809 yards with 74 touchdowns with only five interceptions. The Quakers won 17 of 20 games in that stretch. Through games of Nov. 18, Pawlowski ranked eighth in Division III history with 116 career touchdown passes. He stood 10th among the national career leaders in total offense (12,456) and passing yards (11,625).
In addition to his athletic prowess, Pawlowski is an honor roll student at Guilford and majors in sport management. He has also participated in a number of Guilford's community service initiatives, including the team's New Student Move-In Day. Pawlowski has also mentored students at Guilford Middle School for each of the past three seasons and served as a motivational speaker to local high school and middle school students. He and teammate Mitch Ferrick own and operate the Air Raid Training Academy, a program established to train youth and high school quarterbacks.
Coach Chris Rusiewicz's Quakers capped the best season in school history with a 9-1 overall record (6-1 ODAC). The Quakers set 27 team and individual records this fall, including wins, league wins and points scored (452). Guilford could return as many as 17 starters next fall.
Sponsored by Jostens and the J-Club, the Gagliardi Trophy recognizes excellence in athletics, academics and community service. Launched in 1993, the award is named after John Gagliardi, Saint John's legendary Hall of Fame head football coach who retired in November 2012 with 489 career victories, the most in college football history. The trophy design features a sculpture of Gagliardi and a player representing the teacher-coach and the student-athlete in a classic one-on-one sideline consultation. Hand-cast in bronze on a polished wood base, the trophy stands nearly two feet tall and weighs 64 pounds. The words "Division III Player of the Year" and "Honoring Excellence in Football, Academics and Community Service" are etched in glass on two panels flanking the figures. Quarterback Kevin Burke from the University of Mount Union won his unprecedented second straight Gagliardi Trophy in 2014.