Above photo of Jefferson Fritz (No. 2) by CJ Halloran/@cjhall_photography
RICHARDSON, Texas-For the second consecutive year, the ASC’s Male Athlete of the Year Award belongs to a Crusader.
Jefferson Fritz, who wrapped up a storied collegiate career with the UMHB football program in December, rightfully earned this year’s honor, succeeding men’s basketball player Josiah Johnson, who claimed the award in 2021.
Fritz did it all for the Crusaders in his fifth year in Belton, starting at safety, and punter, while also seeing action as a punt returner, en route to being named a finalist for the Gagliardi Trophy, D-III football’s equivalent to the Heisman Trophy. He won the fan vote, with 29.5% of the nation selecting him out of the five finalists, and that came after he was selected as the ASC’s Defensive Player of the Year for the third time.
As a team captain, and part of the core of UMHB’s defensive unit, Fritz was voted a First-Team All-American by both D3football.com and the American Football Coaches Association, while also earning Dave Campbell’s Texas Football’s All-Small College Defensive Player of the Year award. During the 2021 season, he tallied 44 solo tackles, and 64 total, with two interceptions and a pair of fumble recoveries. With the special teams unit, he punted 37 times for 1,436 yards, with 19 of those ending up inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. Six punts went for 50 yards or more.
“Jefferson Fritz is truly an exemplary young man who is a very deserving recipient of ASC Male Athlete of the Year,” Vice President for Athletics Mickey Kerr said in a statement from the UMHB Athletics Department. “His preparation, character, work ethic and respect for the game were evident every time he stepped on the football field. Without question, Jefferson had exceptional athletic ability; but he was also a team leader and the consummate team player.”
Fritz etches his name in the UMHB record books once again, becoming the 10th male athlete in Crusader athletics history to win the award, which recognizes a student-athlete “whose athletic accomplishments best contributed to their sport, their institution’s overall athletic program and to the conference.”
Not only did he bring recognition to UMHB, but through Fritz’s accomplishments he represented the ASC plenty of times on All-Region and All-America teams in his five years in Belton. The native of Kaufman, Texas is the first Cru football player since Haston Adams in 2018 to be named Male Athlete of the Year. Belhaven softball’s Kennedy Carruth earned the ASC’s Female Athlete of the Year award.