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Columbia's Gross Named 2010 NFF National Scholar-Athlete

Columbia's Alex Gross

Courtesy of the National Football Foundation

DALLAS -- Columbia senior linebacker Alex Gross was one of the 16 student-athletes named as a 2010 recipient of the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Award, announced by The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF).

Recognized by the organization as one of the strongest classes in the history of the storied NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards Program, the 16 recipients were selected from a nationwide pool of 121 semifinalists from among all NCAA divisions and the NAIA. Brown senior quarterback Kyle Newhall-Caballero, Dartmouth senior wide receiver Tanner Scott and Yale senior linebacker Jesse Reising were among the semifinalists.

"We are ecstatic about the quality of this year's remarkable National Scholar-Athlete Class. They stand as a testament to our mission of building leaders through football," said NFF President & CEO Steven J. Hatchell. "From top to bottom, this group has established itself as one of the greatest in the 50-plus years of this program, boasting an impressive array of academic and athletic achievements. We look forward to presenting each of them an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship to further their education, as there are no limits to what these young men will accomplish following their football careers."

One of the best defenders in the Ivy League, Gross is described as "one of the finest young men and student-athletes we've had at Columbia" by athletics director Dr. Dianne Murphy. Gross is the 48th Ivy player to be honored as a NFF National Scholar-Athlete and the fourth in Columbia history, following Richard Sandler (1968), Jeff Selcik (1971) and Michael Quarshie (2004). It marks the third straight year and sixth time in seven years the Ivy League has had a football student-athlete honored with this award.

Gross, a sociology major, has earned a spot on the Dean's List three times. In 2008, the Kettering, Ohio native was an Academic All-Ivy League selection.

As an All-Ivy League selection in 2008, Gross led the league in tackles with 101 stops. He ranked 20th in the FCS with 10.1 tackles per game. As a freshman in 2007, Gross was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week four times en route to earning Ivy League Rookie of the Year honors. Gross's four Rookie of the Week honors rank second in Ivy League history. For his career, Gross has totaled 206 stops, including 12.5 tackles for loss, five sacks and two interceptions. In 2010, Gross leads the Lions and the Ivy League with 75 tackles. The two-time team captain was named the Ivy League's Defensive Player of the Week for Oct. 11 when he claimed 11 tackles, a forced fumble and an interception return for a 69-yard score in Columbia's 42-28 win over Lafayette.

An active volunteer at St. Francis Youth Center, Gross took part in the center's Christmas party and spring sports clinic. He also collected items for Toys for Tots and delivered meals to Padre Pio Homeless Shelter. Additionally, Gross helped support youth literacy and female empowerment through Shakespeare's Sister Company.

The NFF's National Scholar-Athlete program, launched in 1959, is the first initiative in the history to award scholar-athletes postgraduate scholarships for their combined athletic, academic and leadership abilities. This year's class members finds themselves in good company, as past National Scholar-Athletes include former NFL standout Derrick Brooks (Florida State); actor Mark Harmon (UCLA); NASA astronaut Leland Melvin (Richmond); former Dateline NBC anchor Stone Phillips (Yale); chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament, Billy Payne (Georgia); famed NFL quarterback Steve Young (BYU); and Heisman Trophy winners Terry Baker (Oregon State), Gary Beban (UCLA), Doug Flutie (Boston College) and Danny Wuerffel (Florida).

"The 2010 National Scholar-Athlete Class represents all that is right about college football," said NFF Chairman Archie Manning, whose sons Peyton (Campbell winner) and Eli were NFF National Scholar-Athletes in 1997 and 2003, respectively. "They have balanced practice with difficult majors like mechanical engineering and biology. They've also taken their passion for helping others beyond their local communities, taking medical and mission trips overseas to help those less fortunate than themselves. They are prime role models for future generations of young men in this country."

Each finalist will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship, and one of the 16 will be announced as the recipient of the 21st William V. Campbell Trophy, endowed by HealthSouth, which recognizes an individual as the absolute best scholar-athlete in the nation. Renamed last fall in honor of Bill Campbell, the chairman of Intuit, former player and head coach at Columbia University and the 2004 recipient of the NFF's Gold Medal, the award comes with a 25-pound bronze trophy and a $25,000 post-graduate scholarship. A total distribution of $300,000 in scholarships will be awarded that evening.