By Gene McGivern
Sports Information Director
St. Thomas wide receiver Andrew Hilliard, a senior from Woodbury, is one of 14 players named to the elite 2002 National Scholar Athlete Team. Hilliard is also the recipient of an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship by the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame.
Players from NCAA Divisons I, I-AA, II, III and NAIA were eligible, and 152 players were nominated. The award honors exceptional performance in academics, athletics and community service.
Hilliard is one of three Division III players to receive the 2002 award. He’s just the second player from the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) to receive the honor since the award was first presented in 1959. St. John’s Chris Palmer (1995) was the MIAC’s first recipient.
According to National Football Foundation Chairman Jon F. Hanson, Since 1959, these highly sought awards have recognized only a chosen few who have excelled above all in the areas of scholarship, citizenship and athletic performance. We are pleased to have this opportunity to honor these outstanding young men for all of their achievements with an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship.
St. Thomas football coach Don Roney calls Hilliard "an exceptional person and leader" and predicts that he’ll continue to be an excellent role model as a coach and teacher after college.
Andrew Hilliard tears it up on the field as well as off the field.
St. Thomas athletic director Steve Fritz added, "Andrew Hilliard represents the best of Division III athletics. He’s an unselfish player who’s team oriented. He leads by example. He works hard and sets his goals high. He’s been a joy to watch in football and track and field."
Hilliard will be flown to New York City in December for a black-tie awards dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. The 2002 College Football Hall of Fame inductions are part of the ceremony, with Dan Marino, Reggie White and Kellen Winslow leading this year’s honorees.
A co-captain in football and a captain and four-time All-American in track and field, Hilliard has a 3.98 GPA in mathematics and secondary education with a minor in Spanish. He’s a three-time Verizon Academic All-American in both football and track and field.
A four-year starter in football, Hilliard has 137 catches for 2,367 yards and 21 touchdowns in his career. With three regular-season left to go, he needs 286 yards to pass Ryan Davis (2,652 yards) and become the Tommies’ career leader in receiving yards. Twice last season he caught three touchdown passes in one game as he finished with 52 catches for 977 yards and 13 TDs in nine games. He had 12 catches of 34 or more yards. The Tommies are 24-8 in conference games in his era and are still in the 2002 MIAC championship race.
In track and field, Hilliard ran on the Tommies’ 4 x 400 relay team in 2001 that set the all-time MIAC record. He’s won 11 firsts in individual and relay events in the MIAC Indoor and Outdoor track meets, and helped St. Thomas win all six team championships in those meets in his era.
In September, Hilliard was named to the "Good Works" team by the American Football Coaches’ Association for exceptional community service. Only three Division III players in the nation were recognized for that honor. It was the fifth year in a row that St. Thomas has had a player on the Good Works team.
Hilliard’s community and campus service projects include:
- Volunteer weightlifting coach for Special Olympics team (West Metro/Twin Cities Team) (spring 2001 semester)
- Volunteer for National Youth Sports Program (NYSP) coaching FB, basketball, softball, track & field (summer 2002)
- Volunteer for Beaver Lake Church Vacation Bible School, in charge of recreational activities (summer 2002)
- Volunteer for hometown Woodbury Athletic Association at track, football camps (summer 1999, 2000, 2001)
- Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity — helped on homebuilding projects in St. Pauls Frogtown neighborhood (spring 2002)
- Volunteer for Loaves & Fishes Foodshelf (spring 1998)
- Volunteer at neighborhood cleanup day in St. Paul (spring 2000)
- Volunteer at annual on-campus Faculty/Staff Family Christmas party (1999, 2000, 2001)
- Volunteer at Bailey Elementary School P.E. classes Ultimate Dodgeball Day (last three years)
- Campus Fellowship of Christian Athletes (three years)
To see the full list of 2002 scholar-athletes and more related stories, see the Tommie Sports Information Web site.