FT. LAUDERDALE, FLA. - The Discover BCS National Championship Game, set to take place Jan. 7 in Miami Lakes, Fla., will feature two of the finest college football scholar-athletes to ever set foot on the gridiron. Earning recognition as NFF National Scholar-Athletes this past December, Alabama All-American Center Barrett Jones and Notre Dame All-American Linebacker Manti Te'o have established themselves as the definition of excellence.
"Barrett Jones and Manti Te'o are magnificent examples of the ability of football to build leadership qualities in America's young people," said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. "When they take the national stage on Monday night, we know that they'll display the same competitive fire that led them to the national championship game as well as excellence in the classroom. We hope the national media will shine a light on their accomplishments, inspiring future generations to follow in their footsteps of achieving excellence in all aspects of their lives."
Jones, who also claimed the NFF William V. Campbell Trophy as the top scholar-athlete in the nation, and Te'o, who claimed an endowed NFF post-graduate scholarship, had the opportunity to meet December 4 at the 55th NFF Annual Awards Dinner in New York City, and the two have mutual respect for each other.
"I met Barrett, and those guys are just real good guys," said Te'o during the press conference this week in Ft. Lauderdale. "Guys that if they were on our team, we would enjoy having them on our team, as well. They're competitive, and it's just great to know them."
Beyond their All-American accolades and numerous post-season honors, Jones boasts a 4.0 GPA with a degree in accounting, and Te'o holds a 3.32 GPA with a degree in graphic design. Both are team captains on the field and graciously give of their time in the community.
Jones has participated in two mission trips to Haiti and one to Nicaragua where he distributed food, worked at schools and orphanages and helped with construction projects. A volunteer tutor at a local elementary school, he is a member of Campus Crusade for Christ and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Te'o volunteers for the South Bend Center for the Homeless and for the Tackle the Arts initiative. He participated in numerous events for children at local hospitals in addition to reading to patients in the hematology/oncology unit. He also helped with the Irish Experience League, a Sunday camp that allows local kids to play sports with Notre Dame student-athletes.
Players who have appeared in the BCS National Championship Game after being named NFF National Scholar-Athletes include Florida State's Chris Weinke (2000), Nebraska's Tracey Wistrom (2001), Campbell Trophy Winner and Miami's Joaquin Gonzalez (2001), LSU's Rodney Reed (2003), Oklahoma's Renaldo Works (2003), Florida's Chris Leak (2006), and Texas' Colt McCoy (2009). Other recent NFF National Scholar-Athletes who played in the title game before being honored by the NFF include Campbell Trophy Winner and Florida's Tim Tebow (2009), Campbell Trophy Winner and Ohio State's Craig Krenzel (2003) and Alabama's Greg McElroy (2010).