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Michael Saffell named semifinalist for NFF William V. Campbell Trophy

Saffell was nominated as Cal’s best scholar-athlete and landed on the semifinalist list by the National Football Foundation

NCAA Football: Arizona State at California Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

California Golden Bears senior offensive lineman Michael Saffell has officially been named a semifinalist for the National Football Foundation’s William V. Campbell Trophy.

Nominated as Cal’s best scholar-athlete, Saffell lands on the semifinalist list for the award bestowed by the National Football Foundation for the nation’s top football scholar-athlete.

As a semifinalist, Saffell now has qualified for the following benefits, in addition to the trophy:

  • An opportunity to receive an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship, which is awarded to each of the 12-to-14 finalists for the Campbell Trophy® Presented by Mazda.
  • An opportunity to be the winner of the coveted 24-pound bronze Campbell Trophy, which comes with a $25,000 post-graduate scholarship and an appearance (virtual this year) on the Home Depot College Football Awards Show on ESPN.
  • An opportunity to win a $5,000 donation from Fidelity Investments to support the school’s academic services department.

Saffell is one of 199 semifinalists this season, a record-setting number, and that number will dwindle down to between 12 and 14 finalists.

The Campbell Trophy will be celebrating its 31st season and awards student-athletes based on academic success, football performance and exemplary leadership. The 12-14 finalists will ultimately give way to one winner of the trophy during the Home Depot Awards show.

To be nominated originally, a student-athlete must be a senior or graduate student and in their final year of eligibility. They must have a GPA of at least 3.2, outstanding football ability as a first-team player or contributor while also demonstrating outstanding leadership and citizenship.

“It is wonderful to see a record number of semifinalists for the Campbell Trophy® during such a turbulent year, proving the Future for Football is bright,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “We are extremely proud to highlight each semifinalist’s achievements, showcasing their ability to balance academics and athletics at the highest level. The NFF Awards Committee will have an incredibly difficult task in selecting the finalists from this outstanding group of candidates.”

The award is named in honor of the late Bill Campbell, an All-Ivy League player and captain of Columbia’s 1961 Ivy League championship team.

Saffell could join the likes of former Cal great Alex Mack as winners of the award as Mack won the Campbell Trophy in 2008. Former Oregon Ducks QB Justin Herbert was the award recipient in 2019.

Among his off-field endeavors, Saffell took over for Patrick Laird as the lead ambassador for the Cal Athletics Summer Reading Challenge last year. Along with teammates, he visited nearly 25 organizations and spoke to over 5,000 kids that summer to promote reading and combat summer learning loss with kids who completed the challenge. Those kids also received tickets to the 2019 season opener.

He now leads the Cal Athletics Summer Reading Challenge virtually this year.

Saffell also started 11 games last season, and according to PFF, he allowed just nine total pressures in pass protection and was one of the team’s top-graded players overall.

Congratulations, Michael! Way to represent Berkeley on one of the highest levels.