Clifford Named a Semifinalist for 2021 William V. Campbell Trophy

Clifford Named a Semifinalist for 2021 William V. Campbell Trophy

Redshirt senior quarterback is one of 176 semifinalists

Credit Source: Penn State University Athletics

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) announced Sean Clifford as a 2021 William V. Campbell Trophy® semifinalist, college football’s premier scholar-athlete award.


Celebrating its 32nd year, the Campbell Trophy® recognizes an individual as the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary leadership.


The NFF will announce 12-14 finalists on Oct. 27, and each of them will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship as a member of the 2021 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class Presented by Fidelity Investments. The finalists will travel to the ARIA Resort & Casino Las Vegas for the 63rd NFF Annual Awards Dinner Presented by Las Vegas on Dec. 7, where their accomplishments will be highlighted in front of one of the most powerful audiences in all of sports. Live during the event, one member of the class will be declared as the winner of the 32nd Campbell Trophy® and have his postgraduate scholarship increased to $25,000.


Sean Clifford


  • Clifford is in his third season as Penn State’s starting signal caller, having played in 28 career games, making 23 starts.
  • The QB, who owns a 3.45 cumulative GPA, graduated with a degree in public relations in December 2020 and is pursuing a second degree in journalism.
  • Against Villanova, Clifford became the first Penn State quarterback to throw for at least 400 passing yards and four passing touchdowns in a game.
  • Clifford threw for a career-high 401 passing yards and tied a career high with four passing touchdowns to earn Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors.
  • Clifford was 12-of-12 for 265 yards on the day when targeting Jahan Dotson (seven catches for 117 yards) and Parker Washington (five catches for 148 yards).
  • With three touchdown passes of 52 or more yards against villanova, Clifford brought his career TD pass total of 40-plus yards to 12.
  • Against Auburn, Clifford completed a career-high 28 passes, on 32 attempts.
  • Per ESPN, Clifford’s 87.5 completion percentage is the highest by a Penn State quarterback in the last 25 years.
  • Since 2000, Clifford’s 71.7 completion percentage is the highest through four games by a Penn State quarterback and the fourth-highest by a Big Ten quarterback .
  • Clifford leads the Big Ten in yards per pass attempt (9.65), ranking 12th in the country.
  • Clifford sits second in the Big Ten in completion percentage (.717; 14th nationally), completions per game (21.5; 23rd), passing efficiency (171.4; 14th), third in passing yards (1,158; 16th), passing yards per game (289.5; 17th) and fourth in total offense per game (309.2; 20th).
  • Since 2000, Clifford is the only Penn State quarterback with at least 1,150 passing yards and eight passing touchdowns through the first four games of a season. He also accomplished it in 2019 (1,261 yards, nine touchdowns).
  • Since 2000, Clifford’s 1,158 passing yards are the third-most through the first four games of a season by a Penn State quarterback behind only Christian Hackenberg’s 1,261 yards in 2014 and Clifford’s 1,179 yards in 2019.
  • Clifford is just one of four Penn State players all-time to reach 6,500-plus yards of total offense and one of seven quarterbacks to reach 5,000 career passing yards.
  • Clifford is one of 12 current FBS quarterbacks with over 6,000 total yards and over 5,000 passing yards in his career.
  • He currently sits fourth all-time in program history in career total yards (6,713) and third in touchdowns responsible for (58).
  • The Cincinnati, Ohio native is Penn State’s current all-time leader in passing efficiency rating (151.0) and completion percentage (62.0).
  • Additionally, the three-time captain ranks second in passing touchdowns (49), third in yards per attempt (8.4), fourth in touchdown percentage (7.03), seventh in completions (432), fifth in passing yardage (5,890), eighth in attempts (697) and 17th in yards per completion (13.6).
  • Clifford owns 23 career games with multi-TD passes, including nine with three or more TDs and three with four or more.
  • The redshirt senior has tossed multiple touchdowns in a half on 13 occasions and nine different times has thrown multiple touchdowns in a quarter.
  • He is tied fourth in school history for 300-yard passing games (4) and ranks sixth for 200-yard games (15).
  • Clifford owns six career games with at least 250 passing yards and three passing touchdowns.
  • The quarterback has tossed five career touchdowns of 70-plus yards and has completed 80 career passes of 20 or more yards.
  • Among Penn State quarterbacks, he is third all-time in rushing



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 playing 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. 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.


“The NFF would like to personally congratulate each of the nominees as well as their schools and coaches on their tremendous accomplishments,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “We are extremely proud to highlight each semifinalist’s achievements, showcasing their ability to balance academics and athletics at the highest level. The NFF Awards Committee will have an incredibly difficult task in selecting the finalists from this outstanding group of candidates.”


Launched in 1959, the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards Presented by Fidelity Investments celebrate their 63rd year in 2021. The awards were the first initiative in history to grant postgraduate scholarships based on both a player’s academic and athletic accomplishments, and the NFF has recognized 878 outstanding individuals since the program’s inception. This year’s postgraduate scholarships will push the program’s all-time distribution to more than $12.1 million.


The Campbell Trophy® was first awarded in 1990, adding to the program’s prestige. Past recipients include two Rhodes Scholars, a Rhodes Scholar finalist, two Heisman Trophy winners and seven first-round NFL draft picks. Named in honor of the late Bill Campbell, the trophy has been prominently displayed inside its official home at the New York Athletic Club since 2013, and the winner is honored each year during a special luncheon at the venue.


An All-Ivy League player and the captain of Columbia’s 1961 Ivy League championship team, Bill Campbell found his true calling after an unlikely career change at age 39 from Columbia football coach to advertising executive. His ability to recruit, develop and manage talented executives – all lessons learned on the gridiron – proved to be a critical component of his ability to inspire his business teams to the highest levels of success.


As the CEO and chairman of Intuit, Campbell’s unique talent in building teams earned him the affectionate title of the “Coach of Silicon Valley,” and he used the lessons of the gridiron to mentor Steve Jobs of Apple, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Sundar Pichai and Eric Schmidt of Google, Scott Cook and Brad Smith of Intuit, John Doerr of Kleiner-Perkins, Dick Costolo at Twitter, Diane Greene of VMWare and countless others.


Campbell joined the NFF Board in 1978 while he was still a coach at Columbia, and he continued to serve with distinction until his passing in 2016. In 2004, the NFF recognized Campbell’s contributions and accomplishments by presenting him with the NFF Gold Medal, the organization’s highest honor. In 2009, the NFF renamed college football’s premier scholar-athlete award as The William V. Campbell Trophy® in his honor.


As part of its support of the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards, Fidelity Investments helped launch the NFF Faculty Salutes, which recognize the contributions of the faculty athletics representatives at each of the institutions with a finalist for the Campbell Trophy®. Once the finalists are selected, the NFF will present each of their faculty athletics representatives with a plaque and Fidelity will donate $5,000 for the academic support services at each school. The salutes have recognized 139 FARs since the program’s inception, and Fidelity has made a total of $690,000 in donations.


Penn State hosts Indiana this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on ABC.


For information on joining the Nittany Lion Club and ticket information for the 2021 Penn State Football season presented by PSECU, as well as club seating in Beaver Stadium, fans can visit, or call 1-800-NITTANY weekdays from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m.

The 2021 Penn State Football Season is presented by PSECU.

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