By Cybele Zhang
The National Football Foundation (NFF) named fifth-year outside linebacker and co-captain Casey Toohill one of 12 finalists for the 30th William V. Campbell Trophy on Wednesday. The trophy recognizes the best scholar-athlete in all of collegiate football and honors academic success, football performance and exemplary leadership. The award, which was formerly known as the Vincent dePaul Draddy Trophy, is considered by many to be the “Academic Heisman.”
The winner of the prestigious award will be announced on Dec. 10 at the 62nd Annual Awards Dinner in New York. Toohill will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship, and the winner of the Trophy will have his postgraduate scholarship increased to $25,000.
Each school may only nominate one senior or graduate student in their final year of playing eligibility for the award.
“These young men have an unrelenting commitment to excellence in all aspects of their lives, and they represent all that is right in college football,” said NFF President and CEO Steve Hatchell in the press release announcing the finalists. “They serve as living examples that Football Matters, and we are excited to honor their hard work and accomplishments with postgraduate scholarships.”
Toohill is the 13th Cardinal to earn NFF National Scholar-Athlete honors and the first since strong safety Jordan Richards ’14 in 2014. Richards now plays in the NFL for the Baltimore Ravens. A Stanford player has never won the trophy.
“This is the most prestigious honor I could have imagined receiving at Stanford,” Toohill said. “I am so honored to represent Stanford and to honor the legacy of Bill Campbell.”
The award is named in honor of the late Campbell, a business executive and former player, captain and head coach at Columbia University. Campbell died of cancer on April 18, 2016 at the age of 75 in Palo Alto, where he resided.
Toohill, a graduate of Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego, is set to graduate in December with a degree in political science and currently holds a 3.71 grade-point average. He intends to attend business school following his playing career. Among other honors, Toohil is three-time Pac-12 All-Academic member and 2017 CoSIDA Academic All-District.
“My parents have always stressed the importance of academic pursuits and have been crucial in my development as a Stanford student-athlete,” Toohil said. “I owe it to my family and the structure they provided to help me succeed.”
Outside the classroom, Toohill shines on the field. He leads the Cardinal with 45 total tackles, including 7.5 tackles for loss and five sacks. Toohill also forced a fumble and nine quarterback hurries. Currently, he is tied for fifth in the Pac-12 in tackles for loss, and his sack total ranks third in the conference.
Toohill recorded a career-high 2.0 sacks and eight tackles versus Oregon earlier this season, pressuring senior quarterback and fellow Campbell Trophy nominee Justin Herbert.
In the last three seasons, Toohill has helped Stanford to the 2017 Pac-12 North title and two top 20 finishes (No. 12 in 2016, No. 20 in 2017). Toohill also guided the Cardinal to three consecutive bowl games, including the 2016 and 2018 Sun Bowls and the 2017 Alamo Bowl.
Toohill’s leadership can also be found off campus, and he regularly volunteers at the Stanford Children’s Hospital and has participated in reading programs at schools in East Palo Alto. He also works with the football team’s “Set the Expectation” program to combat domestic violence and is a member of Team IMPACT, which sponsored a 13-year-old pediatric cancer patient. Additionally, Toohill helped San Francisco non-profit Hospitality House receive a grant and is active within Stanford’s Catholic community.
The most recent recipient of the trophy was defensive end Christian Wilkins from Clemson, who currently plays for the Miami Dolphins. The most recent time a Pac-12 school has claimed the trophy was center Alex Mack from California in 2008; he now plays for the Atlanta Falcons.
Contact Cybele Zhang at cybelez ‘at’ stanford.edu.