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[Pacific Lutheran Scene]

Leadership and Service

Gagliardi Trophy caps Johnsonís storied PLU career

By Nick Dawson

[image] Chad Johnson
Award-winning PLU quarterback Chad Johnson.

Pacific Lutheran quarterback Chad Johnson received one of the nationís two major awards given to a NCAA Division III football player when he was named the winner of the prestigious Gagliardi Trophy. Johnson received the trophy in December at a luncheon in Salem, Va. The criteria for the award include excellence in athletics, academics and community service.

Johnson had been PLUís starting quarterback for three national playoff teams, including the 1999 squad that won the NCAA Division III cham-pionship. This past season, he led the Lutes to the second round of the Division III football playoffs, where they lost a 28-21 overtime contest to even-tual national runner-up Saint Johnís. The left-handed senior finished the season completing nearly 65 percent of his passes for 3,304 yards and 26 touchdowns, ranking him fourth nationally in passing efficiency. Johnson also gained 279 rushing yards for the season and averaged 325.7 yards of total offense per game, also ranking him fourth among Division III football players. Johnson, who played for his grandfather, PLU head coach Frosty Westering, was named Northwest Conference Offensive Player of the Year for the second straight season (he shared the 1999 honor with teammate Anthony Hicks) and was a first team all conference pick for the third time.

During his outstanding Pacific Lutheran ca-reer, Johnson passed for 8,081 yards and established a new school record by completing almost 62 percent of his career pass attempts (569-of-922). In addition, the 6-3, 225-pounder set a school record with at least one touchdown pass in 22 consecutive games. Pacific Lutheran compiled a 30-5 record in the last three years.

While his athletic accomplishments are note-worthy, Johnson made a similarly significant impact in the classroom. As a business administration major, Johnson graduated with a 3.5 GPA.

Earlier in the fall, Johnson was selected to the 2000 American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team, which honors collegiate football players who show exceptional dedication to community service. He was one of 11 players selected to the NCAA Divisions I-AA, II, III and NAIA team. Johnson participated for five years in the Lister-McIlvaigh mentoring program that brings Pacific Lutheran football players into role model relation-ships with grade and middle school students in two Tacoma area schools. Johnson was one of the team leaders in the program.

In addition, he volunteered for programs feeding inner city homeless, participated in two short-term mission projects to Los Angeles, and was a frequent speaker for church youth groups, Special Olympics and various civic organizations such as Kiwanis and Rotary in the Tacoma area. Johnson also served four years as a supervisor and counselor for the four-day Rotary Youth Leaders workshop in the Pacific Northwest.

ďWe all coach many players during our career, and every so often we have the honor of coaching a special kind of player, not only an outstanding athlete but an outstanding student and person with a strong Christian faith,Ē says Coach Westering of his grandson. ďChad is one of those special guys.Ē

The Gagliardi Trophy is named in honor of long time Saint Johnís (Minn.) head coach John Gagliardi, the winningest active coach in college football. The trophy, sponsored by Jostens, Inc., and by the J-Club of Saint Johnís University, has been presented annually since 1991. Last yearís winner was University of Redlands (Calif.) quarterback Danny Ragsdale. Johnson was selected from a list of nine finalists.

The Gagliardi Trophy, which stands nearly two feet tall and weighs 64 pounds, features a sculpture of Gagliardi and a player in a classic one-on-one sideline meeting. The sculpture is hand-cast in bronze and mounted on a polished wood base. Copies of the trophy were presented to Johnson and to Pacific Lutheran University.

The 2000 postseason has been full of honors for Johnson, who was also named AFCA Division III First Team All-America quarterback and Lutheran Brotherhood Lutheran College Player of the Year.

FOR THE LATEST INFORMATION IN PLU SPORTS, LINK DIRECTLY TO THE ATHLETICS DEPARTMENT THROUGH www.plu.edu/encore.



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