Spencer Blackburn was in elite company.
Wearing a bow tie and tuxedo, Eastern Washington All-American offensive lineman Blackburn sat alongside some of football’s most recognizable figures at an awards dinner Tuesday night in New York City. He earned his spot at the College Football Hall of Fame induction banquet.
Blackburn was one of 12 William V. Campbell Trophy finalists recognized during the induction ceremony, which saw retired stars such as Vince Young, Jake Plummer, Troy Polamalu and Dennis Erickson accept their honor.
The William V. Campbell Trophy – also known as the “academic Heisman” – is given to the top scholar-athlete in college football.
Also nominated were Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, Ohio State safety Jordan Fuller, Minnesota State’s Alex Goettl, Kansas State’s Adam Holtorf, Carnegie Mellon’s Michael Lohmeier, Virginia’s Jordan Mack, Montana’s Dante Olson, Cornell’s Jelani Taylor, Stanford’s Casey Toohill, Georgia’s Rodrigo Blankenship and Western Michigan’s Jon Wassink.
Herbert, who has a 4.0 grade-point average and is expected to be a first-round NFL draft pick next spring, won the award.
Blackburn, a two-time team captain who recently completed his senior season, already has an economics major and plans to finish his second major – accounting – this fall. He has a 3.69 GPA.
“It’s a huge honor,” Blackburn said. “Being one of 12 people in all of college football and to be from a small school. It’s huge.
“Eastern Washington isn’t really a big-time academic school. It’s a cheaper education school. But it doesn’t make a difference in the end. A degree is a degree.”
For being a Campbell finalist, Blackburn was awarded an $18,000 graduate school scholarship.
The awards dinner also recognized former UCLA quarterback and actor Mark Harmon of “NCIS” fame with the 2019 Gold Medal, the National Football Foundation’s highest honor.
Blackburn was pictured with Harmon, Herbert, former NFL star quarterback Peyton Manning and other celebrities at the banquet. He also proposed to his longtime girlfriend in New York City.
Blackburn said he begins an internship with a local auditing firm in January and is training for a shot at professional football.
“He’s a great friend to others, he’s a great student and he’s a great athlete, and when you put those things together, great things happen,” EWU head coach Aaron Best said. “For him to be in that group of 12 is prestigious and we’re proud to be a part of such an honor. It speaks volumes to what he’s done off the field, and he brings that to the field as well.”
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