Luke Fortner Named 2021 William V. Campbell Trophy Semifinalist

Luke Fortner Named 2021 William V. Campbell Trophy Semifinalist

by Susan Lax

University of Kentucky “super senior” and center Luke Fortner has been named a semifinalist for the 2021 William V. Campbell Trophy®, the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) announced today. He is one 176 semifinalists for the coveted award.
Celebrating its 32nd year, the Campbell Trophy® recognizes an individual as the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary leadership.
Nominated by their schools, which are limited to one nominee each, a candidate for the award must be a senior or graduate student in his final year of playing eligibility, have a GPA of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first-team player or significant contributor and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship. The class is selected each year by the NFF Awards Committee, which is comprised of a nationally recognized group of media, College Football Hall of Famers and athletics administrators.
Fortner, of Sylvania, Ohio, has been a standout in all three categories of the award throughout his Wildcat career.
In the community, Fortner put his mechanical engineering degree to good use when he, along with other UK engineering students, played a significant role in helping a team of Toyota Manufacturing engineers design, test and manufacture a specially-built push cart vehicle through a project called “Lift Them Up.” The push cart vehicle provides a Kentucky Children’s Hospital patient the chance to both accompany the Wildcats on the Cat Walk and attend a game at Kroger Field.
Because of his experience with project “Lift Them Up,” Fortner was compelled to continue making an impact at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital. He began visiting the kids in September of 2019 as part of the “Tuesdays with the Wildcats” program, created by former Wildcat C.J. Conrad in 2018.
When COVID-19 hit, Fortner didn’t want to stop interaction with the kids so, along with former teammate Max Duffy, he has Zoomed with the kids at Kentucky Children’s Hospital almost weekly from September of 2019 until April of 2021, only pausing briefly while working on two master’s degrees at the same time.
More of Fortner’s community service projects:

  • Volunteered with other engineering students at UK’s 2020 “Engineers Day” to celebrate engineering and showcase the “Lift Them Up” cart
  • Volunteered at Urban Impact at the Woodhill Community Center, an organization that strives to enable youth to grow, succeed and lead
  • Volunteer reader at Athens-Chilesburg Elementary
  • Volunteer for Read Across America at Fayette County public schools
  • Volunteered with Habitat for Humanity

On the field, Fortner has been an integral part of the “Big Blue Wall,” playing in 46 career games with 27 starting assignments. The 6-foot-6, 297-pounder moved from guard to center in 2021 and has shined in his new role. He’s already been named the Southeastern Conference Offensive Lineman of the Week twice in helping lead UK to a 4-0 overall record, including a 2-0 start in league play.
In the classroom is where Fortner might be the most impressive. He graduated in 2019 with a degree in mechanical engineering and finished his master’s degree in mechanical engineering just one year later. While finishing his master’s in June, he began working on a second master’s degree in business administration from UK’s prestigious Gatton School of Business and Economics. He currently holds a 3.86 grade point average and is set to graduate with his MBA in May of 2022.
Fortner is a four-time member of the SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll and a three-time member of the Dean’s List. Early this year, he was named to the 2021 CoSIDA Academic All-District Team.
The NFF will announce 12-14 finalists on Oct. 27, and each of them will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship as a member of the 2021 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class Presented by Fidelity Investments. The finalists will travel to the ARIA Resort & Casino Las Vegas for the 63rd NFF Annual Awards Dinner Presented by Las Vegas on Dec. 7, where their accomplishments will be highlighted in front of one of the most powerful audiences in all of sports. Live during the event, one member of the class will be declared as the winner of the 32nd Campbell Trophy® and have his postgraduate scholarship increased to $25,000.

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