NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Vanderbilt tight end Cody Markel was among an impressive list of 185 student-athletes named Thursday as semifinalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy. The annual award is sponsored by the National Football Foundation (NFF) and College Football Hall of Fame.
Markel, a senior from Middleton, Wisconsin, has earned national recognition recently as the founder of Turner’s Heroes organization that aims to uplift pediatric patients and fund cancer research grants. Earlier this week, the organization raised nearly $70,000 for a pediatric oncology discovery grant in honor of former Vanderbilt teammate Turner Cockrell.
A 2017-18 Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll recipient, Markel is scheduled to earn a double major this year in political science and medicine, health and society. Markel has a 3.93 cumulative grade-point average and has been a six-time dean’s list honoree since arriving on campus four years ago.
On the field, Markel has earned an important role in the Commodores’ tight end corps as a non-scholarship student-athlete. He has four starts in 23 career appearances, and has been used primarily as an interior blocker. Markel’s only collegiate reception resulted in a touchdown catch against Tennessee in the 2018 regular-season finale.
“Cody is a great example of how to live life to the fullest,” Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason said. “He has the utmost respect of his teammates, the Vanderbilt coaching staff and our entire university community. I talk to our student-athletes a great deal about being limitless in their life, making the most of each day. Cody truly embodies that idea.”
For the past year, Markel has devoted the last year to the memory of Turner Cockrell, a Vanderbilt tight end who died Dec. 28, 2018 after an extended battle against melanoma. In creating Turner’s Heroes, Markel aims to uplift spirits of pediatric patients by hosting personalized superhero cape activities. The organization’s initial events have enjoyed great success at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.
Markel and Turner’s Heroes organized a successful 82-hour fundraiser in mid-September to fund an upcoming $50,000 pediatric cancer research grant at Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital. The “Be A Hero for Turner” effort, which ended Sept. 24, eclipsed its goal by nearly $20,000.
In addition, Markel is a three-year member of the Vanderbilt Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, captained the football team’s Dance Marathon fundraising effort last February that generated more than $10,000 and served as a team representative to the SEC Football Leadership Council. He also volunteered on weekly basis during the 2018-19 academic year at Alive Hospice in Nashville, working on an individual basis with ailing patients.
The Campbell Trophy, which is housed at the New York Athletic Club, recognizes an individual as the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation. The NFF will announce up to 14 Campbell Trophy finalists on Oct. 30, with each receiving an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship as a member of the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class presented by Fidelity Investments. The finalists will travel to New York City for the 62nd NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 10, where their accomplishments will be highlighted in front of one of the most powerful audiences in all of sports. The 2019 Campbell Trophy recipient will be announced at the December banquet.
Campbell Trophy nominees must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of playing eligibility, have a GPA of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first team player or significant contributor and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship. The class is selected each year by the NFF Awards Committee, which is comprised of a nationally recognized group of media, College Football Hall of Famers and athletics administrators.
Named in honor of the late Bill Campbell, former chairman of Intuit, former player and head coach at Columbia University and the 2004 recipient of the NFF’s Gold Medal, the Campbell Trophy is a 25-pound bronze trophy and increases the amount of the recipient’s grant by $7,000 for a total postgraduate scholarship of $25,000. This year’s postgraduate scholarships will push the program’s all-time distribution to more than $11.7 million.