(MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.) - Thomas More College senior defensive back Zach Autenrieb (Cincinnati, Ohio/Elder) has been named one-of-four finalists for the 2012 Gagliardi Trophy given to the most outstanding football player in NCAA Division III by Jostens and the J-Club of St. John's University of Minnesota.
The trophy will be presented on Wednesday, December 12, 2012 in Salem, Virginia at a banquet kicking-off a series of Division III Stagg Bowl championship events.
The Gagliardi Trophy, given annually since 1993, recognizes excellence in athletics, academics and community service. The award is named after John Gagliardi, St. John's legendary Hall of Fame head football coach who retired in November with 489 career victories, the most in college football history.
Autenrieb and the other three finalists will be on hand for the banquet. The announcement of the winner and presentation of the trophy will be made at that time.
Autenrieb was named the 2012 Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC) Player of the Year and first team All-PAC. He 48 tackles (36 solo, 12 assisted), including a half tackle for a loss, Division III-leading eight interceptions, five pass break-ups, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. Two of his interceptions were returned for a touchdown. With his eight interceptions he finished his career with 32 interceptions, which is the new NCAA Division III career interception record. While at Thomas More he played on three teams that won the Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC) title and played in the NCAA Division III Championship Playoffs three times.
Off the field, Autenrieb carries a 3.33 grade point average in accounting and was named to the Capital One Academic All-District II team. He has participated in Thomas More's efforts with Special Olympics and the school's Relay for Life fundraising. Autenrieb has also been involved with the Friends of Jacyln Foundation.
Gagliardi Trophy nominations were submitted by the college president at 21 institutions from Vermont to California and Minnesota to Texas. Finalists were determined by a national selection committee composed of 38 former small college football players, business leaders, academicians and sports writers from around the country. Each committee member casts a ballot ranking the ten finalists.