DALLAS (Oct. 18, 2023) – The semifinalists for the seventh annual Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year were announced today, a group that includes 20 of the nation’s top leaders in college football.
Compiled by a subset of the Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Selection Committee, the semifinalists have all demonstrated a record of leadership by exhibiting exceptional courage, integrity and sportsmanship both on and off the field.
Seventeen seniors and three juniors make up the list. Among conferences, the ACC led the way with five selections, while the Big Ten had four. The SEC and Big 12 had three each, while the PAC 12 had two. The American Athletic and MAC each had one semifinalist, as did independent Notre Dame.
The full list of semifinalists includes: DeWayne Carter (Duke), Matthew Cindric (California), Brian Dooley (Eastern Michigan), Jordan Travis (Florida State), Dylan Leonard (Georgia Tech), Jack Freeman (Houston), Isaiah Williams (Illinois), J.J. Weaver (Kentucky), Josh Williams (LSU), Blake Corum (Michigan), Xavier McDonald (Navy), Joe Shimko (North Carolina State), Sam Hartman (Notre Dame), Cade Stover (Ohio State), Caleb Williams (Southern Cal), Joe Milton III (Tennessee), Tony Bradford, Jr. (Texas Tech), Mike Hollins (Virginia), Zach Frazier (West Virginia) and Chimere Dike (Wisconsin).
Three finalists will be named for the award on Wednesday, December 13. The winner will be announced at the award ceremony in Frisco, Texas, on February 15, 2024.
Last year, Deslin Alexandre of Pittsburgh won the sixth annual award. The first five Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year awards were presented to Shaquem Griffin of UCF in 2017, D’Cota Dixon of Wisconsin in 2018, Trey Smith of Tennessee in 2019, Sam Ehlinger of Texas in 2020 and Joshua Paschal of Kentucky in 2021.
The award, presented by Albertsons and Tom Thumb, is the first college football honor to focus primarily on a player’s leadership, both on and off the field. Leadership is a term synonymous with Jason Witten, who, in addition to becoming one of the best tight ends in the history of the sport, served as one of football’s most prominent role models during his 16-year pro career. In addition to winning the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award in 2012, Witten also received the Bart Starr Award, Pro Football Weekly’s Humanitarian of the Year Award, Home Depot NFL Neighborhood MVP and the Bob Lilly Award, among many others. All of those honors have recognized his work in the community, achievements on the field and dedication to his teammates and family.
“It’s an honor to announce the semifinalists for the Collegiate Man of the Year,” said Witten. “This fantastic group of twenty young men are great student-athletes and perfect examples of what makes college football so great. They have demonstrated exceptional character and leadership, often while facing large challenges. They are great representatives for their schools and the game of football, and I commend all nominees for getting to this point.”
The winner of the Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year will also receive a $10,000 contribution in his name to his school’s athletic scholarship fund. The contribution will be made by Jason Witten’s SCORE Foundation, the official charity of Jason and his wife Michelle. The SCORE Foundation, founded in 2007, has positively impacted tens of thousands of children and families in Texas and Tennessee over the last 16 years. The foundation operates its nationally-recognized SCOREkeepers program, which places trained male mentors on staff to work with children at family violence shelters, at nine shelters in the two states.
2023 JASON WITTEN COLLEGIATE MAN OF THE YEAR SEMIFINALISTS
Josh Williams, LSU (Sr., RB) – A former walk-on who rose all the way through the program to earn LSU’s offensive player of the year award last season, Williams’s legendary work ethic has made him an unquestioned leader in the Tigers locker room. Graduating with a 3.4 GPA, Williams is a three-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll. He spent time learning abroad in Senegal and is a volunteer at the Baton Rouge Food Bank. His story as a former scout team player who is now a starter in the SEC is an inspiration to many who are told they are too small or slow to play college football.