College football award to be named in Jason Witten's honor

OXNARD, Calif. -- For the last 14 years, Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten has been recognized for his success on the field (10 Pro Bowls) as well as his success off the field (2012 Walter Payton Award winner).

This year, Witten will have an award named after him at the college level.

The Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year award will be presented after the 2017 college football season to a player from the FBS level who has “demonstrated a record of leadership by exhibiting exceptional courage, integrity and sportsmanship both on and off the field.” Three finalists will be selected in November and the winner will be announced in December with a banquet at The Star in Frisco, Texas, in February.

“When you think about Walter Payton and what that is at the NFL level and then to think about transferring that over to these young student athletes in college, it’ll be great for the kids that are up for it and honored to get it,” said Witten, who played in college at Tennessee. “I was just so honored to be a part of that group. You hope how you play and go about it pays off and I guess my quest was to have a legacy like that off the field as well.”

The winner will receive a $10,000 contribution in his name to his school’s athletic scholarship fund from Witten’s SCORE Foundation, which the tight end founded with his wife, Michelle, in 2007.

“I will say it again, Jason Witten is in the top five of people that I have met -- commissioners, owners, coaches, players -- since I have been in the NFL,” Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. “He is in my top five and (the award) is very appropriate. They couldn’t miss having that award named after him for a well-deserved collegiate player.”