Despite missing two games due to injury this season, Soza has completed 104 of 179 (58.1 percent) passes for 1,391 yards and 15 touchdowns, including a program-record four last Saturday at No. 22 Louisiana Tech. Those numbers translate to a 149.9 passing efficiency rating, which ranks 27th nationally and fourth in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). He also is averaging four yards on his 43 rushes (170 yards) and had a 33-yard score in the WAC-opening victory at New Mexico State (Sept. 29).
The Beeville native has a 3.95 GPA in physical education and is a three-time UTSA President’s List honoree (perfect 4.00 GPA). An active member of the Roadrunners’ community service program, he serves as the school’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) President and WAC SAAC representative.
Joining Soza as finalists this year are USC QB Matt Barkley, Nebraska RB Rex Burkhead, Wyoming C Nick Carlson, Memphis LB Akeem Davis, Rutgers S Duron Harmon, Alabama OL Barrett Jones, Kansas State QB Collin Klein, Indiana DT Adam Replogle and Notre Dame LB Manti Te’o. Jones won last year’s award.
Now in its eighth year, the award is given annually to the outstanding NCAA Division I collegiate football player who best personifies the spirit of sportsmanship.
To qualify for the award, a player must be a starter or significant contributor, be in good academic standing, demonstrate respect in every aspect of school and competition, convey a high degree of humility and integrity and demonstrate commitment in the classroom and to the community.
“This is our eighth year recognizing excellence among college football players, and we once again reviewed submissions from a plethora of positive role-model athletes,” selection committee chair and former BYU head coach LaVell Edwards said.
“This is a rock solid group of impressive young men who live and breathe positive sportsmanship on and off the field,” ARA President Lori Warren said. “As the only national award that recognizes an athlete’s character and leadership as it translates to sportsmanship, the Awards and Recognition Association Sportsmanship Award was created seven years ago to shed light on these important traits.”
Previous ARA Award recipients are Jones (2011), Texas DE Sam Acho (2010); Kansas State TE Jeron Mastrud (2009), Northwestern University WR Eric Peterman (2008), Washington State QB Alex Brink (2007), Rutgers University RB Brian Leonard (2006) and Memphis RB DeAngelo Williams (2005).