Fort Walton Beach, Fla.----- At 6-foot-7, San Jose State University football offensive lineman Nate Velichko towers over most people. But, the imposing 300-plus pound senior is a man among the people. For that reason, he is one of 108 players from the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) named to the Wuerffel Trophy watch list.
The Wuerffel Trophy bills itself as "College Football's Premier Award for Community Service" and is presented annually by the All-Sports Association headquartered in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Named after 1996 Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel of the University of Florida, one FBS player is selected annually who combines exemplary community service with athletics and academic achievement.
Velichhko's community service activities since he became a Spartan in 2013 are continuous, genuine and meaningful. His outlook on participating in a multitude of activities is "There is a lot more to life than sports. It matters whose lives you impact on how you impact them."
On campus, he has a history of working sports clinics at the South Campus for boys and girls of all ages throughout the year and assisting students moving into campus housing facilities prior to the start of the fall semester.
He participates in San Jose State's chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, has had a leadership role since 2014, served as a guest speaker and participated as a camp counselor for summer football camps every year since 2014.
His community service activities go beyond being with boys and girls needing the outlet of athletics activities. Velichko was one of eight San Jose State football representatives selected to visit the Florida Hospital in 2015 during the team's week in Orlando for the AutoNation Cure Bowl. Since February 2017, he has been a mentor to a 10-year old boy diagnosed with autism. The connection was made through the University's speech pathology department. He's also made time to assist special needs adults aged 30 to 50 that are in the job market.
"Nate shows his tremendous value tour program with his initiative in community service and leadership skills. I have been impressed by Nate's desire to organize and lead community outreach in multiple avenues," head coach Brent Brennan wrote in a letter of recommendation for the three-year starter in the offensive line.
Velichko is one of two Spartans on this year's team with at least 30 starting calls. He has starts at left tackle, right guard and right tackle. He was an honorable mention All-Mountain West choice as a sophomore when San Jose State had one of the most balanced offenses in college football with 24 rushing touchdowns and 21 passing six-pointers.
The kinesiology major also is one of the best students in the San Jose State University football program. He is a two-time San Jose State University Dean's Scholar for achieving at least a 3.50 grade-point average in multiple semester, a three-time Academic All-Mountain West honoree and a three-time Mountain West Scholar-Athlete.
Once he is finished playing football, Velichko is interested in an athletic training career. While one can find him in the training room, it's not just for treatment as a football player. He is there learning a discipline that goes along with his community service philosophy of positively impacting lives.
Nate Velichko earned a spot on the Wuerffel Trophy watch list. Semifinalists will be named on November 2 and finalists will be announced on November 22. The 2017 winner of the Wuerffel Trophy will be made public at a National Football Foundation press conference on December 5 in New York City. The 2017 Wuerffel Trophy will be presented on February 16, 2018 at the 49th annual All Sports Association Awards banquet in Fort Walton Beach.
Velichko is the latest San Jose State player named to a preseason watch list that participates in the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA). Cornerback Andre Chachere was named to the Jim Thorpe Award for best defensive back and Bronko Nagurski Trophy for top defensive player watch lists; kicker Bryce Crawford, the Lou Groza Collegiate Placekicker Award; and Keoni Taylor, the Rimington Trophy for best center.