JONESBORO, Ark. (11/2/17) – Arkansas State senior cornerback and return specialist Blaise Taylor was named Thursday one of 11 semifinalists for the Wuerffel Trophy, making him the first player in school history to earn the designation for the award that combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement.
Taylor was tabbed a semifinalist for the Wuerffel Trophy, known as “College Football’s Premier Award for Community Service,” one day after finding a place on the finalists list for the National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame’s William V. Campbell Trophy. He is the only student-athlete in the nation to be named to the finalist or semifinalist list for both of the major college football awards.
Voting for the Wuerffel Trophy is performed by a National Selection Committee that includes college football television and print media, industry notables, former head coaches and prior Wuerffel Trophy recipients. Three finalists will be announced on Nov. 22, 2017, and the formal announcement of the 2017 Wuerffel Trophy recipient will be on Dec. 5, 2017, at the National Football Foundation’s press conference in New York City.
The 2017 Wuerffel Trophy winner will be invited to attend “The Home Depot College Football Awards Red Carpet Show” on ESPNU and ESPN3 on Dec. 7, 2017, airing at 5 p.m. CST, featuring interviews with award winners and finalists as they approach The Home Depot College Football Awards Show, the College Football Hall of Fame and Chick-fil-A Fan Experience in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. The presentation of the 2017 Wuerffel Trophy will occur at the 49th Annual All Sports Association Awards Banquet on Feb. 16, 2018, in Fort Walton Beach.
The Wuerffel Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association, which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. The 23 awards boast more than 700 years of tradition-selection excellence.
Taylor was also a 2017 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team nominee and is currently a Senior CLASS Award candidate, a member of the 2017 Hornung Watch List and Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award nominee. A two-time All-Sun Belt Conference selection, Taylor is the only current FBS player in the nation to earn both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees before the start of his true senior season.
The Waco, Texas, native earned his Master of Business Administration in August 2017 with a 3.82 GPA, and he also graduated Magna Cum Laude in August 2016 with his bachelor’s degree in business administration. A member of the Arkansas State University Chancellor’s List, Dean’s List, Athletics Director’s Honor Roll and Sun Belt Conference Commissioner’s List, Taylor earned both degrees in less than four years.
A two-time Wuerffel Trophy Watch List member, Taylor has been heavily involved in community service while also spending time on the Arkansas State Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. He recently created a non-profit organization with his sister, sophomore A-State women’s basketball guard Starr Taylor, titled “The Power of 1 and 2.” The organization is designed to work with underprivileged at-risk children. He is highly invested in working with at-risk youth, including participating at a local alternative school called Success Academy.
Taylor is a 2017 Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference selection as both a return specialist (first team) and defensive back (second team). His football career has seen him pile up 88 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, five interceptions, 23 pass break-ups, a forced fumble and a blocked kick while earning all-conference recognition in both 2014 and 2016.
He is the A-State career record holder for career punt return yards (1,089), which is also the second most ever by a Sun Belt Conference player. The senior standout holds four of the top-10 marks in school history for punt return yards in a game, as well as in a season. He is the second all-time leader in Sun Belt Conference history for punt returns for a touchdown (4), while his 1,089 career punt return yards are the second most in the nation among active players.
The 2017 Wuerffel Trophy Semifinalists, listed alphabetically by university, are:
Blaise Taylor, Arkansas State University, senior, defensive back/return specialist
Daniel Carlson, Auburn University, senior, kicker
Gabe Brandner, Duke University, senior, offensive line
Brent Stockstill, Middle Tennessee State University, junior, quarterback
A.J. Cole, III, North Carolina State University, junior, punter
Harrison Phillips, Stanford University, senior, defensive line
Frank Ragnow, University of Arkansas, senior, offensive line
Courtney Love, University of Kentucky, senior, linebacker
Drue Tranquill, University of Notre Dame, senior, linebacker
Brian O’Neill, University of Pittsburgh, junior, offensive line
Tommy Openshaw, Vanderbilt University, senior, kicker