Big Rapids, Mich. - Ferris State University senior quarterback Travis Russell (Grand Rapids/West Catholic), a member of the nation's preseason #2 Bulldog football squad, has been chosen as one of the nominees for the 2019 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, one of the most prestigious off-the-field honors in college football.
The list of 137 nominees was announced by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA). Russell played in 11 games last fall under head coach Tony Annese as the Bulldogs advanced to the NCAA Division II National Championship Game for the first time in school history and he is also a three-time Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) All-Academic Team selection.
This year marks the second consecutive year in which Russell has been tabbed among the nominees for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. Two years ago, former teammate and three-time All-America center Jake Daugherty (Big Rapids) was eventually chosen as one of the members of the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team and invited to be honored at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
Russell is one of only a handful of Division II players and among four student-athletes from a GLIAC member school to be nominated for the prestigious honor along with Ashland's Clay Shreve, Wayne State's Luke Bevilacqua and Jacob Wenzlick of Michigan Tech.
Since 1992, the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team® has brought together a select group of college football players from across the country to honor their dedication to volunteerism and enriching the lives of others. While players are often recognized for their accomplishments and achievements on game day, these student-athletes have made significant contributions to the greater good of society, inspiring future generations of young athletes and the larger college football community.
Last fall, Russell appeared in 11 games for the Bulldogs and completed 64% of his passes for 286 yards and two scores. He also ran for 321 yards and two scores on the ground as the top backup behind Harlon Hill Trophy winner Jayru Campbell. In 2017, Russell played a key role in the Bulldogs' success while splitting time with then senior Reggie Bell at the quarterback position. He completed 50% of his throws for 1,242 yards and nine touchdowns in his 13 appearances as a sophomore signal caller. He also ranked as the team's third-leading rusher with 447 yards on 123 carries while scoring six times. His play helped FSU compile an 11-2 overall mark in 2017 followed by a historic 15-1 finish in 2018.
Along with his success on the field, the three-year letterwinner has also played a lead role in the Bulldogs' efforts off the field. He's been highly-active in the team's various charitable community service efforts and has worked as a marketing intern for Bulldog Athletics in addition to his success in the classroom.
The Allstate AFCA Good Works Team® has been one of the most esteemed honors in college football for more than 25 years. The student-athletes who are nominated for this award not only demonstrate a unique dedication to community service and desire to make a positive impact on the lives around them, but they also show tremendous perseverance as well as the ability to overcome personal struggles and come out victorious against all odds.
"It's truly inspiring to see these young men dedicating their time and energy outside of their already busy schedules to leave a lasting impact in their communities," said John O'Donnell, Allstate's Western Territory president and member of the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team selection committee. "As a longtime college football sponsor, Allstate takes great pride in our partnership with the AFCA, and we are honored to celebrate the successes of these players and highlight their stories as an inspiration to all who love the sport."
The college football players who have been nominated make it a priority to find time in their busy schedules to volunteer in meaningful ways. Of the nominees, many players dedicate time to reading, mentoring and playing sports with disadvantaged children when they are not in the classroom or on the field. Other players make frequent visits to hospitals to spend one-on-one time with ill patients. One student-athlete even went as far as donating bone marrow in order to save the life of a child in need.
A special voting panel consisting of former Allstate AFCA Good Works Team® members and prominent college football media members will review submissions from sports directors across the nation to select the 2019 Good Works Team®. Tim Tebow, two-time national champion, Heisman Trophy winner and 2009 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team® member, will once again headline the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team® voting panel.
"To be named to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team is no small feat and goes above and beyond sportsmanship and leadership in the classroom or on the field," said Tebow. "These student-athletes believe in the power of giving back and enriching the lives of others, while also helping to shape the lives of future young athletes. Each year, I am struck by the caliber of these nominees and humbled to be a part of telling their stories."
The Allstate AFCA Good Works Team® is comprised of 11 players from the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision and 11 players from the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, Divisions II, III and the NAIA and one honorary head coach. To be in consideration by Allstate and the AFCA for a nomination, each player must be actively involved with a charitable organization or service group while maintaining a strong academic standing.
The final roster of 22 award recipients and honorary head coach will be unveiled in September.
"For 12 straight years, the AFCA has been proud to partner with Allstate to honor football student-athletes who volunteer their time and energy to give back to their local communities and other countries around the world," AFCA Executive Director Todd Berry said. "These 137 nominees are examples to not only their fellow student-athletes, but to everyone in this great nation that selfless acts of giving back will enrich the lives of people they know, and don't know, who benefit from their generosity."
In addition to Tebow and O'Donnell, the 2019 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team® selection panel members include: Zaid Abdul-Aleem (Duke, 1994 team); Matt Stinchcomb (Georgia, 1997, 1998 teams); Brian Brenberg (St. Thomas, 2001 team); Mike Proman (Amherst, 2002 team); Wes Counts (Middle Tennessee State, 1999 team); media members Kirk Herbstreit (ESPN), Blair Kerkhoff (Kansas City Star), and Paul Myerberg (USA TODAY); 2019 AFCA President and Ohio University Head Coach, Frank Solich; and 2001 AFCA President and current athletic director at Virginia Union University, Joe Taylor.
After the final team members are announced in September, college football fans can visit the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team® official page on ESPN.com to view profiles and images of the players and honorary head coach, and vote for the 2019 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team® Captain. Fans are also encouraged to follow along and join in on the conversation by searching and using #GoodWorksTeam on their social media channels throughout the season.
The AFCA was founded in 1922 and currently has more than 11,000 members around the world ranging from the high school level to the professional ranks. According to its constitution, the AFCA was formed, in part, to "maintain the highest possible standards in football and in the coaching profession" and to "provide a forum for the discussion and study of all matters pertaining to football."
The Bulldogs will begin their 111th season of varsity competition this coming fall with their sights set on making a sixth consecutive trip to the NCAA Division II Playoffs. FSU returns 18 starters from last fall's historic campaign as is the preseason #2 team in the country by multiple sources.
Along with reaching the national title game last fall, the Bulldogs captured the GLIAC Championship in 2018 and won the Super Region Three title by winning their first four NCAA Playoff games en route to a historic run. The four playoff wins included FSU's first-ever National Semifinal victory at Minnesota State. Recently, SB Nation labeled FSU as Michigan's best football team of 2018 regardless of division.
Ferris State will open the 2019 season at home under the lights on Thursday, Sept. 5, against the Findlay Oilers in non-league action at Top Taggart Field. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. (ET).