Hope College placekicker Evan Finch is garnering national recognition this preseason for his successes on the football field and community contributions off of it.
The senior from Ann Arbor (Pioneer HS) is one of 34 placekickers nationally and 11 from NCAA Division III on the preseason watch list for the Fred Mitchell Outstanding Placekicker Award. Finch was a Mitchell Award finalist in 2012.
“He does extremely well in the classroom and on the field,” Hope football coach Dean Kreps said of Finch, who is majoring in physical education and minoring in health education. “He’s the real deal student-athlete.”
The Mitchell Award is provided to the nation's top collegiate placekicker among more than 750 Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), NCAA Division II and III, NAIA and junior college football teams. It is named for Fred Mitchell, the record-setting place-kicker, Wittenberg (Ohio) University Athletic Hall of Famer, author, philanthropist and Chicago Tribune sports columnist. The award recipient is chosen by a committee based on excellence on the football field and in the community.
“It is a pleasure to include these fine young men on the watch list for this award,” Mitchell said. “We are delighted to recognize them based on outstanding performance in the community and expectations going into the 2013 college football season. It is also a thrill to see so many familiar names on the watch list, including 17 finalists and three placekickers that were among the 10 for the award last season.”
Top performers are recognized monthly during the college football season, while the winner is announced in mid-December. The school of the award winner receives scholarship funds. The Fred Mitchell Award trophy will be presented each February at the National Football Foundation Chicago Metro Chapter Awards Ceremony at Halas Hall.
Finch led Hope in scoring during his junior season, totaling 45 points. He converted 33-of-35 PATs and all four field-goal attempts. Finch has 108 career points, including 72-of-76 PATs and 12-of-16 field-goal attempts.
Finch works with Special Education students as a swimming teacher. He is a bible study leader on campus at Hope. He volunteers to help his track team at his high school alma mater.
Several members of the Pro and/or College Football Hall of Fame are on the selection committee. The group includes former Chicago Bears kicker Kevin Butler, Green Bay Packers great Paul Hornung, Buffalo Bills coach Marv Levy and Chicago Bears legend Gale Sayers. There are 11 former college or NFL placekickers on the selection committee as well.
The award winner is not required to be on the preseason watch list.