UW-Oshkosh senior quarterback Brett Kasper is one of four finalists for the 2017 Gagliardi Trophy.
The Gagliardi Trophy, given annually since 1993, recognizes excellence in athletics, academics and community service. The NCAA Division III award is named after John Gagliardi, Saint John's University's (Minn.) legendary Hall of Fame head football coach who retired in 2012 with 489 career victories, the most in college football history.
The 25th Gagliardi Trophy will be presented on Wednesday, Dec. 13, in Salem, Va., at a banquet kicking off the Division III championship weekend, which culminates in the Stagg Bowl on Friday, Dec. 15. The four finalists will be on hand for the announcement of the winner and presentation of the trophy at the banquet.
Kasper, a two-time WIAC Offensive Player of the Year, is the second UW-Oshkosh finalist for the Gagliardi Trophy. UW-Oshkosh quarterback Nate Wara was among the final four candidates for the award in 2012.
The other finalists for the 2017 Gagliardi Trophy are UW-La Crosse senior wide receiver Nick Holcomb, Wartburg College (Iowa) junior quarterback Matt Sacia and Springfield College (Mass.) senior fullback Jordan Wilcox.
Kasper has rewritten the record books during his senior season, eclipsing school career marks with 9,489 passing yards and 87 touchdown passes while also setting the single-season mark by throwing for 32 scores.
This season, Kasper has helped UW-Oshkosh to the Division III semifinals for the second straight year as the Titans reached the national championship game a year ago after advancing to the quarterfinal round during Kasper's sophomore campaign in 2015.
Kasper has completed 169 of 254 passes for 2,728 yards on the year. He ranks second in the country with a 195.2 passing efficiency rating and third with 10.74 yards per pass attempt. The Two Rivers High School graduate also ranks sixth nationally with 16.14 yards per completion, 10th in touchdown passes and 13th with a .665 completion percentage.
Kasper, who owns a 40-5 record as a starter, has passed for multiple touchdowns in nine games this season, including a school record-tying six during the Titans' NCAA postseason second-round win over North Central College (Ill.). He also threw four touchdown passes against both UW-La Crosse and UW-Stevens Point, and recorded three touchdown tosses in four contests this year.
Among active Division III career leaders, Kasper ranks second in yards per pass attempt (8.98), third in passing yards, fourth in passing touchdowns and offensive yards per play (7.83), sixth in total offensive yards (9,697), seventh in completion percentage (.640) and passing efficiency rating (162.36), and eighth in completions (676).
In January 2017, Kasper became the first Division III captain of the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team for his volunteering efforts with Be the Match. Kasper's bone marrow matched a girl in need of a transplant, and he underwent the life-saving procedure in spring 2016.
Kasper, who owns a 3.375 cumulative grade point average as a supply chain management major, volunteers regularly with organizations, including Feeding America and Special Olympics.
Nominations were submitted by colleges across the country, and 10 semifinalists were selected by the J-Club Board of Directors. The Gagliardi Trophy national-selection committee is comprised of 40 former college football players, former Gagliardi Trophy recipients, business leaders, academicians and sports writers from around the country. Each casts a ballot ranking the finalists.
Fans also voted online, and their tally, totaling 17,507 votes, represented the 41st committee member. Senior quarterback Evan Wyse from Trine University (Ind.) received the highest number of online fan votes with 3,877.
The public is invited to attend the Gagliardi Trophy presentation at the Salem Civic Center. Tickets to the banquet, which includes a ceremony and dinner, are $25.
Kasper and the Titans (12-0) will host University of Mount Union (Ohio) (13-0) in the Division III semifinals on Saturday (Dec. 9) at J. J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium. Kickoff is set for 12:05 p.m. UW-Oshkosh enters the contest ranked third in the country by D3football.com while University of Mount Union lists second.
Saturday's winner moves on to the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl – the Division III title game – on Dec. 15 in Salem, Va.