Cal Offensive Lineman Michael Saffell Named 2020 William V. Campbell Trophy Semifinalist

Saffell has made football Pac-12 All-Academic honors since 2017

Michael Saffell has done it again: California senior offensive lineman earned yet another academic honor Thursday.

The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame selected Saffell as a semifinalist for the 2020 William V. Campbell Trophy. The award, sometimes nicknamed the “Academic Heisman,” seeks to recognize the “absolute best” football student-athlete.

Since joining the Golden Bears in 2017, Saffell made the first-team football Pac-12 All-Academic team every year. According to his Cal Athletics biography, he is “on track” to graduate in December 2020, three-and-a-half years since enrolling at Cal, with a bachelor's degree in business administration.

Saffell is also the lead ambassador of the Cal Athletics Summer Reading Challenge, which he stepped into in 2019 after Patrick Laird graduated the previous year.

Schools around the country can nominate one first-team football player each year. Candidates must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of playing eligibility and have a GPA of at least a 3.2 “B” average on a 4.0 scale. The National Football Foundation Awards Committee, made up of media, College Football Hall of Fame members and college athletics administrators, then choose semifinalists for “outstanding football ability” and “strong leadership and citizenship.”

“We have worked hard to expand the profile of the award, and it's extremely gratifying to have so many schools participate this year with nominations,” said National Football Foundation Chairman Archie Manning on the record number of semifinalists this year in a prepared statement.

The average GPA among the 199 semifinalists is a 3.67, with 72 nominees earning a 3.47 “B+” or better average, including nine semifinalists with a perfect 4.0 average.

As a Campbell Trophy semifinalist, Saffell can win an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship if he is among the 12 to 14 finalists. A win would also earn Cal's academic services department a potential $5,000 donation from Fidelity Investments.

The last Golden Bear to win the Campbell Trophy is Alex Mack, the first-round-pick NFL center, in 2008. Only seven universities have had multiple Campbell Trophy winners since the award's start in 1990: Florida with three and Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia each with two.

Other notable award winners include Justin Herbert of Oregon in 2019, Tim Tebow of Florida in 2009 and Peyton Manning of Tennessee in 1997.

The Campbell Trophy winner earns a $25,000 post-graduate scholarship and appears on the Home Depot College Football Awards Show on ESPN.

Congratulations to Michael!