Ethan Williams Van Wert class of ‘15 has become a semi-finalist for the Campbell Trophy. Williams is a senior captain on the Bluffton University football team. (Bluffton University)
Ethan Williams Van Wert class of ‘15 has become a semi-finalist for the Campbell Trophy. Williams is a senior captain on the Bluffton University football team. (Bluffton University)
BLUFFTON — Few words are as synonymous with college football

as Heisman is. It is the most prestigious award given out to amateur football players for their on-field play alone. The Campbell Trophy, dubbed the “academic Heisman” is perhaps an even more honorable award— and a Van Wert native has been nominated for it.

Ethan Williams, who graduated from Van Wert high school and currently attends Bluffton University, is one of 179 collegiate football players currently being nominated for the award. The standards put forth in order to win the award are challenging, yet Williams excels in every category; on-field play, academics and community service.

On the field Williams has been honored twice as an All-conference offensive line man in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference. He also aided an offense that was 37th in the country in passing yards per game last season. Williams was even chosen by his teammates to lead as captain this season. Even more impressive than his performance in the trenches every Saturday afternoon for the Beavers is the roles he plays off the turf.

It goes with out saying that playing athletics at any level requires time, and that goes double for the athletics at the college level. Lifting, practices, film sessions, individual work all while devoting hours to homework, class time and studying is no easy task. In fact every fall college freshman show up to campus with shiny dreams of being that all-conference athlete, but fall trough the cracks because of academics. Not Williams though.

“There is always something to do,” commented Williams on how he excels with the workload of being a student-athlete. “It’s a lot of time management, I have to schedule out my day. Time management is important because I have to keep myself on task.”

To even be considered for Campbell Trophy a student must keep a GPA above a 3.2, something Williams has excelled at. As for community service, Bluffton football has given Williams plenty of opportunities to give back.

Williams has served the community in ranging ways as he has helped locally at nursing homes, has donated water to Flint, Michigan, has helped raise money with the HCAC to donate to under privileged kids and as even traveled across the Atlantic Ocean last summer for a class trip to Iceland where he helped clean the streets.

Williams is studying math, he plans to become a teacher upon graduating from Bluffton.

“It was probably when I was in high school when I decided that a teacher is what I wanted to be” said Williams. “Teaching is a great career that helps build the future. Educating the youth on what they need to know and helping make the future generations better is what made me decide to be a teacher.”

Williams wasn’t sold on playing college football till he was late in high school campaign. In fact it was the summer going into his senior year when he decided he wanted to play.

“I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to play [in college],” said the former Cougar. “The time lined up for my senior season and it hit me that I wanted to keep playing and I didn’t want to stop. So I decided to start looking for schools to play and Bluffton was near by and it was a great school so I decided to go there.”

Most people can look back in their life at one teacher that make a tremendous impact on their life, and one coach that drove their love of the game. For Williams that person is one in the same— Van Wert head football coach Keith Recker.

“[Recker] definitely pushed me to play college football,” continued Williams. “He would bring in college coaches after football season was done to come into school and talk to me. He really thought I should go play.”

Regardless of what you’re doing in life, recognition for all the hard work you do is always welcomed. To be nominated for one of the most prestigious awards in the nation has to make all hours of work, all the sacrifices you’ve made and all the sweat you’ve poured into the things you do, worth it.

“It just feels great to be nominated for such a great award like that,” said the Bluffton lineman. “There is a lot of people that have been nominated for the award, and it pretty tough to get in with all the great student athletes out there— it feels great.”

Legends of the sport like Peyton Manning and Tim Tebow have gone on to win the award when they were in college. Williams mentioned how humbling and awesome it is to even be nominated for an award that the likes of those two have won.

If Ethan is selected as a finalist he will get to travel to New York City next month when the winner is selected. That’s for later, as for right now Williams is gearing up to defend “the Hammer.” The trophy awarded to the winner of the annual Bluffton University/ Defiance College game, which will be played this Saturday at Bluffton University.