Hope quarterback Michael Atwell is one of 170 candidates from colleges across the country for the National Football Foundation (NFF) National Scholar-Athlete Awards.

The senior from Geneseo, Ill. (Geneseo HS), also is among the semifinalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy, endowed by HealthSouth, which recognizes an individual as the absolute best scholar-athlete in the nation.

The class is selected each year by the NFF Awards Committee, which is comprised of a nationally recognized group of media, College Football Hall of Famers and athletics administrators.

Atwell, who is a majoring in chemistry and minoring in biology, plans to attend medical school after he graduates from Hope.

Hope coach Dean Kreps said it has been a pleasure to coach and work with Atwell.

“He is a quality student and person, not to mention that he is a great quarterback,” Kreps said. “He is a tireless worker and true student of the game. I will hate to lose him to graduation, but know that he is going to be a great physician after he attends medical school. Wherever he lands or whatever he does, I know that he will be successful.”

As a junior, Atwell was recognized as the top quarterback academically among all NCAA Division III teams in the Midwest Region. The honor was part of the Capital One Academic All-America program sponsored by the College Sports Information Directors Association of America (CoSIDA).

Nominated by their schools, which are limited to one nominee each, candidates for the awards must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of eligibility, have a GPA of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first team player or significant contributor, and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship.

Atwell is one of 39 candidates from NCAA Division III schools. Other candidates come from Football Bowl Subdivision, Football Championship Subdivision, NCAA Division II and NAIA.

The 170 semifinalists represent the most ever since 2006 when the NFF increased the nomination standards to require a minimum cumulative 3.2 GPA.

“We take great pride in the record participation by the number of schools in the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards program this year,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning. “It is important for us to showcase that success on the football field starts with winners in the classroom and the community. This year’s record-breaking number of nominations further illustrates the power of our great sport in developing the next generation of influential leaders.”

Named in honor of Bill Campbell, the chairman of Intuit, former player and head coach at Columbia University and the 2004 recipient of the NFF’s Gold Medal, the award comes with a 25-pound bronze trophy and increases the amount of the recipient’s grant by $7,000 for a total post-graduate scholarship of $25,000. A total distribution of $300,000 in scholarships will be awarded at the NFF Annual Awards Dinner, pushing the program’s all-time distributions to more than $10.4 million.

Launched in 1959, the NFF scholar-athlete program became the first initiative in history to award post-graduate scholarships based on both a player’s academic and athletic accomplishments. The William V. Campbell Trophy, first awarded in 1990, adds to the program’s mystique, having previously honored two Rhodes Scholars, a Rhodes Scholar finalist, two Heisman Trophy winners and five first-round NFL draft picks.