University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh quarterback Nate Wara (Sr. Oshkosh) has been announced as one of the final four candidates for the Gagliardi Trophy, which is presented annually to the most outstanding football player in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III.
The trophy, which is sponsored by the J-Club of St. John's University (Minn.) and Jostens, will be presented at a banquet on Dec. 12 in Salem, Va. The banquet kicks off a series of Stagg Bowl championship events and will be streamed live on D3football.com.
Joining Wara in Salem for the presentation of the Gagliardi Trophy are senior defensive back Zach Autenrieb of Thomas More College (Ky.), running back/kicker Luke Heinsohn of Washington and Lee University (Va.) and running back Scottie Williams of Elmhurst College (Ill.).
Wara has led UW-Oshkosh to its finest season in the program's 118-year history. The fifth-ranked Titans captured the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) championship for the first time in 36 years and will take a 13-0 record into Saturday's (Dec. 8) semifinal-round game of the NCAA Division III Championship against the University of St. Thomas (Minn.).
Wara, the 2012 WIAC and D3football.com West Region Player of the Year, has completed 218-of-332 passes (65.7 percent) for 3,045 yards and 29 touchdowns while rushing the football 170 times for 739 yards and nine scores. He has thrown only four interceptions, including just one during the regular season. Wara ranks sixth in the NCAA Division III in passing efficiency (169.1) and 28th in total offense (291 yards per game).
Wara eclipsed 200 passing yards in 11 games this season, including 369 with four touchdowns in a 41-7 win over UW-La Crosse on Oct. 27 and 279 with three scores in a 56-31 victory over UW-Stevens Point on Nov. 3. He also passed for 187 yards and three touchdowns while adding 128 rushing yards during the Titans' 55-10 playoff win over The College of St. Scholastica (Minn.) on Nov. 17. Wara has thrown three or more touchdown in six of his last eight games.
This year, Wara directs an offense that ranks among the best in the country. The Titans list 11th in total offense and 16th in both scoring and rushing offense.
Starting all 43 games since 2009, Wara ranks among the top players in WIAC history. He has completed 730-of-1127 passes for 8,615 yards and 79 touchdowns while rushing 566 times for 2,320 yards and 22 scores. Wara stands second in WIAC history in total offense (10,935 yards), fifth in pass completions and touchdown passes and eighth in passing yards.
Off the field, Wara carries a 3.03 grade-point average as a physical education major. The Oshkosh North High School graduate has volunteered with the Oshkosh YMCA, Oshkosh Boys & Girls Club, Habitat for Humanity, Old Glory Honor Flights and Feeding America food pantry. On Dec. 21, Wara and his teammates will again raise money and food items for the Feeding America food pantry in Oshkosh.
The Gagliardi Trophy, named after former St. John's University head football coach John Gagliardi, recognizes excellence in athletics, academics and community service. It has been presented to the nation's most outstanding football player since 1993. The 64-pound trophy is bronze with a wood base and has "Division III Player of the Year" etched in glass. University of Dubuque (Iowa) wide receiver Michael Zweifel received the award last season.- Courtesy UW-Oshkosh Athletics