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Broc Rutter wins Gagliardi Trophy for most outstanding player in DIII football

Mar 03, 2020

First North Central player to win award caps dream season with Hula Bowl trip

North Central College quarterback Broc Rutter ’20, a graduate of Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, won the 2019 Gagliardi Trophy for the best player in Division III college football, as announced shortly before kickoff of the Division III Football National Championship in Shenandoah, Texas. This marks the first time a North Central student-athlete has won the prestigious award. The Gagliardi Trophy recognizes excellence in academics and service as well as athletics.

“This is a huge honor,” said Rutter. “I just have to give credit to my teammates and coaches.  They’ve done such a great job of putting me in positions to succeed.”

Rutter is only the fourth Gagliardi Trophy winner from the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW), along with Elmhurst College running back Scottie Williams in 2012, Augustana College offensive lineman Blaine Westermeyer in 2009, and Illinois Wesleyan University quarterback Lon Erickson in 1996.

North Central College quarterback Broc Rutter answering questions.

Rutter interviewing with the media before the Stagg Bowl.

Making North Central College football history

The NCAA recognized Rutter's historic season with an invitation to play in the Hula Bowl all-star game, an exhibition featuring top players from all divisions of college football held at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii. Rutter was the only Division III player to appear in the game and threw for the lone touchdown scored by Team Aina, a 28-yard connection with Michael Dean of Idaho State University. Rutter got to play under the guidance of Team Aina head coach Mike Smith, former head coach of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons.

The North Central quarterback was a semifinalist for the Gagliardi Trophy for the second straight season. He ranked second nationwide in passing yards, touchdown passes and passing efficiency while sitting third in completion percentage. He has started every one of the Cardinals’ games the past four seasons and owns a 44-7 career record as starting quarterback.

“He’s really a special soul,” said North Central head football coach Jeff Thorne. “Nobody deserves it more than him. He’s been such a great leader, a great teammate and just a great human being.“

During his career, Rutter has lead North Central to three CCIW championships and four consecutive appearances in the Division III national playoffs. He is the active career leader in all divisions of college football—and the all-time leader in Division III—with a North Central-record 14,258 passing yards. He also owns the Cardinals’ career records for completions and touchdown passes. In North Central’s national quarterfinal victory over Delaware Valley University, Rutter established a new Division III career record by throwing for at least 200 yards for the 44th time.

“He’s really a special soul. Nobody deserves it more than him. He’s been such a great leader, a great teammate and just a great human being.“

Head football coach Jeff Thorne

North Central Collegea home for champions

Rutter led the Cardinals' epic journey to the NCAA Division III National Championship game. North Central dominated the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW) during the regular season and finished 9-1 to earn an at-large bid in the national playoffs.

During the postseason, the Cardinals have defeated three opponents ranked in D3football.com’s national top 10, including the quarterfinal victory over No. 9 Delaware Valley and an upset of 13-time national champions and No. 2-ranked Mount Union University in the second round. A decisive victory over No. 4 Muhlenberg College by a score of 45-14 sent them to their first national championship game in school history.

Rutter and his teammates will return to Naperville from Shenandoah, Texas on Saturday, December 21, between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. The College invites any and all fans to welcome the team back to campus at Merner Field House (450 S. Brainard St.). Follow North Central College on Twitter @northcentralcol for updates on the team’s arrival time.

North Central College provides students with the confidence, instruction, and direction they need to exceed their personal best in athletics, inside and outside of the classroom, and throughout their careers. Founded in 1861, and located just 28 miles west of Chicago in the Historic District of Naperville, Illinois—named among the nation’s “Best Places to Live” by Money magazine—North Central is home to nearly 3,000 students and more than 70 undergraduate majors, 60 additional undergraduate minors and concentrations, and 12 graduate degree programs.

Visit northcentralcollege.edu/dream-bigger to discover why U.S. News & World Report has named North Central a “Best in the Midwest” for 20 years in a row and to learn more about the College’s state-of-the-art facilities and distinctive programs, particularly in the sciences and business.

For more on Broc Rutter's amazing career and the football program, visit northcentralcardinals.com.