A 2015 graduate of West Fargo High who went on to play Division II football was named a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.
Zach Mohs, a defensive lineman for Northern State University in South Dakota, was nominated for the award which recognizes an individual for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary leadership. Mohs is one of 19 Division II players to be chosen.
The athletes are nominated by their schools and must have at least a 3.2 GPA, have demonstrated strong leadership and be a significant contributor on the field. Mohs, a senior, boasts a 3.975 GPA.
The former Packer was nominated by Ashley Gauer, the assistant athletic director for communications at Northern State, who thought Mohs would be a good candidate and fit for the award. He’s known amongst his teammates as being the guy who takes his academics seriously.
“It’s really awesome to be in this conversation with all those other great athletes out there that have been nominated for this award before and who are nominated this year,” Mohs said of his semifinalist status. One-hundred-and-85 student-athletes are named semifinalists for the 2019 award.
Beyond the classroom, Mohs has proven his playing ability on the gridiron. He’s recorded 81 career tackles and is a four-year letter winner for the Wolves.
Mohs didn’t know much about the award, which is in its 30th year, at first. But when he started researching it, he quickly realized its prestige.
“It’s a real honor,” he said. “There's some great people that have won and been a part of this award. So it's really cool to be a part of it myself.”
Past award winners include Peyton Manning (1997), Tim Tebow (2009) and most recently, current Miami Dolphin Christian Wilkins.
Division I FBS football teams carry the largest group of semifinalists for the award with 71 nominees.
“It’s a pretty select group when you have 19 guys go up for the award in our division. So just to be part of that with those 18 other guys is something I'm really proud of,” he said. “... It's awesome to be a good face for Northern State University, for the NSIC and for division II.”
The National Football Foundation will announce 12 to 14 finalists on Oct. 30, who will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship. The award winner will have his scholarship increased to $25,000.
However the process plays out, Mohs is just happy to have gotten to this point.
“Obviously, it'd be really, really cool to be one of those finalists. If I make the final cut it’s going to be a surreal experience and I’m going to be really excited for the next step,” he said. “But just to be to this point is something that I will definitely never forget. I’m honored to be representing Northern, the conference and myself, this way.”
Mohs graduates in May, and is in the interview process of applying to medical school. Next fall, he’ll hopefully be attending medical school instead of going back to fall camp.
With a nearly perfect GPA, the nose guard has had to home in on his time management skills — balancing academics with athletics isn’t always easy.
“Football takes up a lot of time, especially in season — you're preparing for that next opponent, trying to get your body back for the next game,” Mohs said. “And at the same time, you’re going to class. I’ve taken some pretty challenging courses at Northern. So it's tested me. But I've enjoyed the ride so far.”
The trophy is named after businessman and former Columbia University football player and head coach Bill Campbell.
The award’s selection committee is comprised of media, college football hall of famers and athletic administrators.
The finalists will travel to New York City for the William V. Campbell Trophy award dinner on Dec. 10.