Kansas City, Mo. – Four of the best and brightest players on the Saint Xavier University football roster were recognized late Tuesday when the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) released the names of its 2012 Daktronics-NAIA Football Scholar-Athletes. Seniors Michael Bushnell (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew), Spencer Nolen (Columbia, Tenn./UT-Chattanooga/Columbia Central) and Shane Zackery (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic) as well as junior Brian Studnicka (Palos Hills, Ill./Stagg) represented SXU and joined 255 other NAIA football players from around the nation on this year's list of recipients for the prestigious academic honor. In order to be nominated, a student-athlete must maintain a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale and achieved junior academic status. Cumberland University (Tenn.) led all NAIA institutions with 16 players on the list.
"These four guys are simply amazing and should be an inspiration to everyone," said Saint Xavier University football coach Mike Feminis. "They each have the ability to not only balance their responsibilities in the classroom with their duties as collegiate football players, but also excel in both areas. I applaud them for their tremendous work ethic and know that each of them have bright futures ahead."
Bushnell, a linebacker for the Cougars, was one of the team leaders in tackles (80) and tackles for losses (8.5) this season. He is a biology (pre-medicine) major with a cumulative GPA of 3.57. Nolen, SXU's starting kicker/punter in 2012, led the team in scoring (91 points) and punting (1,054 yards) this fall. He is a mathematics major with a concentration in secondary education and owns a 3.62 GPA. Zackery was Saint Xavier's top wide receiver with 80 receptions for a team-leading 1,122 yards and 13 touchdowns. He was recently named a National Scholar-Athlete Finalist by the National Football Foundation (NFF) and possesses a 3.71 GPA majoring in business administration. Studnicka was a regular contributor on the offensive line for the Cougars this year and carries a 3.89 GPA pursuing a biology (pre-medicine) major.
Saint Xavier had another amazing season finishing with an 11-2 overall record and making its fourth straight appearance in the semifinals of the NAIA Football Championship Series. The Cougars carried the NAIA's No. 1 ranking for the first five weeks of the 2012 season and later went on to defeat then No. 1 ranked Marian University (Ind.), 23-6, on November 1 in Chicago. SXU claimed the No. 4 spot in the NAIA's final regular season top 25 poll.
Click here to see the complete list of the 259 Daktronics-NAIA Football Scholar-Athletes.