FARGO -- For a change, Easton Stick watched some video this season that wasn’t of a North Dakota State football opponent. After practice on Tuesday, Dec. 4, he and some friends went home, cued up the computer, connected it to the television and watched ESPN3.
It was the awards ceremony for the William V. Campbell Trophy that goes to college football’s best scholar-athlete.
Stick was one of 18 finalists, but because NDSU is playing Colgate Saturday in the quarterfinals of the Division I FCS playoffs, he chose to remain in Fargo. The televised ceremony in New York City was yet another in a line of awards for the senior quarterback.
That hasn’t been a distraction, Stick said.
“Honestly, no, we’re just focused on what we do week to week,” he said. “The coolest thing with some of this stuff is it’s a team deal. If we were not successful and there are not great people in the locker room and on campus, then we’re not talking about any of this stuff. It’s fun to enjoy it with the guys, but at the same time we’re preparing and getting ready to play a good Colgate team.”
The Campbell Trophy winner was Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, who has led the Tigers to an unbeaten season and a No. 2 ranking in the country heading into the College Football Playoffs.
Stick finishing runnerup to Wilkins was no small feat. Wilkins got his undergraduate degree in just two and a half years and will graduate this month with a master’s in athletic leadership. He’s a two-year captain and a finalist for other prominent FBS awards.
Off the field, he’s a certified substitute teacher and has worked with Habitat for Humanity, Clemson Miracle Fundraiser, Colleges against Cancer Relay for Life and “Kicks, Cleats, Kids” initiative.
The Campbell Trophy is considered college football’s premier scholar-athlete honor. As a finalist, Stick will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship. He has other things on his mind first, like preparing for the Raiders.
Stick, who is taking next semester off in preparation for the NFL Draft, is uncertain of his future postgraduate plans. He’s currently working on his MBA at NDSU.
“We still have to learn more on how the scholarship works,” he said.
On Wednesday, it was announced Stick is one of 13 finalists for the STATS FCS Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete Award, named after the late school teacher and wife of legendary football coach Eddie Robinson.
For now, he has the Raiders on his mind.
“They’re fun to watch, they play really hard, that’s the big thing,” Stick said. “Really, really hard. They tackle really well. They’re just an experienced group. They know each other’s fits, you don’t see people miss fits or miss tackles and they force an unbelievable amount of turnovers.”
The Raiders, who lead FCS in scoring defense giving up just 7.0 points per game, picked off James Madison five times last weekend to beat the Dukes 23-20 in the second round.
“You see it throughout the year, they’re forcing fumbles and when the ball is in the air, they’re getting their hands on it. It’s a talented group.”