Above photo by Russell Marwitz/True To The Cru
BELTON, Texas- UMHB senior safety/punter/punt returner Jefferson Fritz has been named a finalist for D-III football’s most prestigious honor, the Gagliardi Trophy, as the selection was announced Thursday afternoon.
Fritz, who was named Region 3’s Defensive Player of the Year by D3football.com on Wednesday, was the only defensive player to be named one of the five finalists. The annual honor is presented to the nation’s most outstanding D-III football player, recognizing excellence in athletics, academics and community service.
The fifth-year senior was just the fifth Crusader in program history to be selected as a semifinalist and the first to be named a finalist under the trophy’s new format. Cody Fredenburg (2003) and Quincy Daniels (2010) were both finalists when 10+ finalists were announced.
Fritz was also selected by D3football.com as a First-Team All-Region honoree on defense, having tallied 59 tackles, 41 of those solo, this season. The Kaufman, Texas native also tallied an interception against Birmingham-Southern, and has recovered two fumbles this season, in addition to forcing one.
As a punter, he averages 40.64 yards per punt, with 18 of his 33 punts having been downed inside the 20-yard line. He earned Second-Team All-Region honors for his play as UMHB’s starting punter.
He was also named the ASC’s Defensive Player of the Year for the third time in his career in November. Fritz is also a sport management major at UMHB.
A five-time All-American, Fritz is joined by Aurora’s Gavin Zimbelman, Linfield’s Wyatt Smith, North Central’s Andrew Kamienski, and Central’s Blaine Hawkins, as a finalist for the Gagliardi Trophy. The presentation of the award will be announced on December 17.