Award To Honor Exemplary Leadership By A College Player
DALLAS (Dec. 14, 2023) – The three finalists for the seventh 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 Tony Bradford, Jr., of Texas Tech, Blake Corum of Michigan and Mike Hollins of Virginia.
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 15, 2024.
“I am excited to announce these three outstanding young men as the finalists for the seventh annual Collegiate Man of the Year,” said Witten. “Tony Bradford, Jr., Blake Corum and Mike Hollins 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.”
Tony Bradford, Jr., Texas Tech (Sr., DL) – A four-year starter at Texas Tech, Bradford is a two-time All-Big 12 honorable mention honoree who has registered 27.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks in his outstanding career. Nicknamed “The Mayor” for his consistent presence in the West Texas community, he was named to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team last season. He was in fact named “honorary mayor” of Lubbock by the city’s actual mayor last year, and he is a longtime member of the Texas Tech Student-Advisory Committee. He was previously selected as one of two Big 12 representatives on the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee Student-Athlete Connection Group, and the aspiring police chief has served as a campus security guard for the Texas Tech Police Department the last three years.
Blake Corum, Michigan (Sr., RB) – Corum is one of the most decorated players in college football, and the top contributor to Michigan’s high-powered rushing attack. Though he’s a force on the field, where he was a unanimous All-American choice in 2022 and where has scored more than 50 rushing TDs in his storied career, his generous spirit has made him even more impactful in the community. Corum has dedicated countless hours to feeding, clothing, educating, and providing opportunities for folks in nearby Ypsilanti and Detroit, Michigan, the local Ann Arbor community, and near his home in Virginia. Using NIL earnings, he has given away over 1,000 Thanksgiving meals, provided Christmas toys and school supplies to those without, and cherished his opportunity to be a role model to children as a coach and educator through speeches and spending time reading to kids. He has famously made “Football is my passion, but giving back is my purpose” his mantra.
Mike Hollins, Virginia (Sr., RB) – As a victim of the tragic shooting that took place at UVA in November of 2022, where Hollins lost three of his teammates while they were returning from a school field trip, his battle to come back to the field has inspired his teammates, the University and the community for his strength, determination and will. After being shot in the back while trying to help his teammates, Hollins was in critical condition, but has since completed an amazing journey back to the playing field. He now participates in visits to area schools, the Blue Ridge Juvenile Detention Center, the UVA Children’s Hospital and other team community service opportunities, and he was a member of the 2022 ACC Honor Roll.
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, Deslin Alexandre of Pitt won the sixth annual award. The first five 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, Sam Ehlinger of Texas in 2020 and Joshua Paschal of Kentucky in 2021.
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 summer camp for kids with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas, 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.