Award To Honor Exemplary Leadership By A College Player
DALLAS (Dec. 15, 2022) – The three finalists for the sixth annual Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year were announced today. In line for the award, which recognizes exemplary leadership both on and off the field, are Deslin Alexandre of Pittsburgh, Sean Clifford of Penn State and Alex Forsyth of Oregon.
Selected from a group of 20 semifinalists by a subset of the Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Board of Directors, the three finalists have all demonstrated an outstanding record of leadership by exhibiting exceptional courage, integrity, and sportsmanship. The winner will be announced at an award ceremony in Frisco, Texas, on February 23, 2023.
“I am excited to announce these three outstanding young men as the finalists for the sixth annual Collegiate Man of the Year,” said Witten. “Deslin Alexandre, Sean Clifford and Alex Forsyth have all demonstrated exceptional leadership on and off the field and set the standard for what being a student-athlete is all about. It’s nearly impossible to choose just three from all of the great players nominated. There are so many great representatives for college football, and I commend all of the nominees for the tremendous example of leadership they set on the field, on campus and in the community.”
Deslin Alexandre, Pittsburgh (Sr., DE) – Alexandre has highly distinguished himself on and off the field at the University of Pittsburgh. He is a two-time captain and three-year starter for the Panthers’ nationally ranked defense. In the classroom, Alexandre is a perennial Honor Roll student pursuing an MBA in Pitt’s Katz Graduate School of Business. In the community, Alexandre sets the pace for Pitt’s entire athletic department, passionately dedicating time to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, literacy promotion and Divine Mercy Parish’s historic “Red Door” program that provides meals and clothing for the homeless. Using his NIL opportunities for the greater good, he recently launched the “5th Down Campaign” to build awareness and mobilize resources for the impoverished children of Haiti, where he was born.
Sean Clifford, Penn State (Sr., QB) – One of two Penn State players to reach 9,000 yards of total offense and one of three quarterbacks to eclipse 8,000 career passing yards, Clifford is the current all-time leader at Penn State in completion percentage and ranks second at PSU in career passing touchdowns and passing yardage. He is one of only two four-time team captains in the history of Penn State football. He is an active supporter of Big Brothers Big Sisters program, where he serves a mentor. He has also served as Penn State football’s leadership liaison for volunteer activities. In that role, he is responsible for leading the team and encouraging the team’s student-athletes to participate in volunteer activities around the Penn State community and throughout the state of Pennsylvania.
Alex Forsyth, Oregon (Sr., OL) – A fifth-year senior and third-year starter at center for the Ducks, Forsyth endured the tragic loss of his father as a young boy and has used his football career as a way to honor his dad’s legacy. Forsyth has started 26 games for the Ducks, including each of the last 14, and has played more than 1,800 snaps in his career at Oregon. A two-time selection to the watch list for the Rimington Trophy and a two-time all-Pac-12 second team honoree, Forsyth ranks fifth nationally among centers this season with a 87.5 pass-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus. Off the field, Forsyth is working on a Master’s degree after earning his undergraduate degree in advertising. The West Linn, Ore., native has also been very active in the Eugene community, regularly volunteering for projects like the Eugene Mission homeless shelter, Food for Lane County and KidSports.
The Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year, 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. Last year, Joshua Paschal of Kentucky won the fifth annual award. The first four Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year awards were presented to Shaquem Griffin of UCF in 2017, D’Cota Dixon of Wisconsin in 2018, Trey Smith of Tennessee in 2019 and Sam Ehlinger of Texas in 2020.
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 and the Cowboys’ all-time leading receiver, served as one of football’s most prominent role models during his 17-year pro career. In addition to winning the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award in 2012, Witten has 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.
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 15 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 three states. SCORE has also operated a weekend food backpack program for disadvantaged children in North Texas, opened Jason Witten Learning Centers in five different Boys & Girls Clubs and opened the Jason and Michelle Witten Emergency Waiting Room at the Niswonger Children’s Hospital in Johnson City, Tenn.