Eason-Riddle Named Semifinalist for the Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award
University of South Carolina senior linebacker Spencer Eason-Riddle has been named as one of 20 semifinalists for the fourth annual Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award, it was announced today.
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 SEC led the way with six selections, while the Pac 12 and ACC had three each. The Big Ten and Big 12 each had two semifinalists, while the American Athletic Conference, MAC and Mountain West each had one selection. There is also one semifinalist from an FBS Independent program.
A fifth-year senior linebacker who overcame a torn ACL late in the 2019 season, Eason-Riddle is the first Gamecock to make the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. He was named the Male Gamecock Leadership Award winner at the school’s 2020 all-sports gala, and the former walk-on puts in extensive hours each year in volunteer work. Most notably, he has been a regular at both the Dorn VA Medical Center and at the oncology center of the Prisma Health Children’s Hospital.
The full list of semifinalists includes: Najee Harris (Alabama), Amadeo West (Army), Elijah Hicks (California), Michael Carter II (Duke), Harry Crider (Indiana), Skylar Thompson (Kansas State), Joshua Paschal (Kentucky), Adam Shibley (Michigan), Nick Bolton (Missouri), Cameron Kinley (Navy), Lawson Hall (Nevada), Daelin Hayes (Notre Dame), Spencer Eason-Riddle (South Carolina), Talanoa Hufanga (Southern California), Kingsley Jonathan (Syracuse), Sam Ehlinger (Texas), Kellen Mond (Texas A&M), Andre Mintze (Vanderbilt), Elijah Molden (Washington) and Mike Caliendo (Western Michigan).
Three finalists will be named for the award on Wednesday, December 16. The winner will be announced at the award ceremony on February 16, 2021.
Last year, Tennessee’s Trey Smith won the award. The first two Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year awards were presented to Shaquem Griffin of UCF in 2017 and D’Cota Dixon of Wisconsin in 2018.
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, has 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 my honor to announce this impressive group of student-athletes as semifinalists for the fourth annual Collegiate Man of the Year,” said Witten. “With all of the challenges this year has given us, these young men are shining examples of what makes college football great. They have demonstrated exceptional character and leadership, often while facing large challenges. They are great representatives for 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 13 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.