Rehfeld Selected as Finalist for Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete Award


The decade may be coming to a close, but it’s been a year to remember for Western Illinois linebacker Tom Rehfeld.  2019 saw the Chicago native graduate with a bachelor’s degree in nursing, pass his licensing examination on the first try, and receive the honor of team captain for the Leatherneck football team. 

Rehfeld was recently recognized as an honorable mention on the Missouri Valley Football Conference’s All-Academic list and will wrap the week as Western’s first finalist for the 2019 STATS FCS Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete Award, the organization announced Thursday (December 5).  He is one of 13 FCS players selected – one from each conference in college football’s Division I subdivision – for the fifth annual award named after the late school teacher and wife of legendary coach Grambling State coach Eddie Robinson. The honor is presented to an FCS student-athlete who excels not only in the classroom but in the community and beyond.

“Tom has been a model student-athlete in his time here at Western Illinois and has excelled in every aspect of his life. He has demonstrated the powerful combination of athletic and academic excellence,” said head coach Jared Elliott. “Tom is a selfless leader that has made an impact within our program and our community. There is no one more deserving of the very prestigious Doris Robinson Award.”

“To be chosen as a finalist for this award is an incredible honor,” added Rehfeld. “Playing at Western Illinois has given me the opportunity to be a part of something more than just football. I can’t thank my family, professors, teammates, and coaches enough that have helped put me in this position.”

Rehfeld left the 2019 season as possibly one in a handful, if not the only, Division I football student-athlete suiting up with RN credentials. He finished second on the team, and 13th in the MVFC, with 84 tackles while leading Western in tackles for loss (11.0). 

Off the field, he wrapped his undergraduate studies this past May and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in health sciences. 

The winner of the Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete Award will be announced Monday, December 16. Sitting amongst the STATS winners for the Walter Payton Award (FCS Offensive Player of the Year), Buck Buchanan Award (FCS Defensive Player of the Year), Jerry Rice Award (FCS Freshman Player of the Year) and Eddie Robinson Award (FCS Coach of the Year), the scholar-athlete awardee will also be honored at the FCS Awards Banquet in Frisco, Texas on Thursday, January 16 – the eve of the national championship game.

Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete Finalists:
Big Sky Conference: Dante Olson, Montana, LB, R-Sr. (major: business administration/management, GPA: 3.91)
Big South Conference: K.J. Smith, North Alabama, S, Sr. (interdisciplinary studies/emphasis on health, 4.00)
CAA Football: Chucky Smith, Villanova, S, R-Sr. (biology with minors in economics and naval science, 3.62)
Ivy League: Jelani Taylor, Cornell, S, Sr. (hotel administration, 3.94)
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference: Ian McBorrough, Morgan State, LB, Sr. (business management, 3.29)
Missouri Valley Football Conference: Tom Rehfeld, Western Illinois, LB, R-Sr. (nursing degree. 3.50; in grad school)
Northeast Conference: Spencer DeMedal, Duquesne, S, Sr. (biology, 3.98)
Ohio Valley Conference: Joe Caputo, Eastern Illinois, LB, R-Sr. (accounting and finance with minors in data analytics and supply chain management, 3.89)
Patriot League:Alex Pechin, Bucknell, P, 5th Year. (biomedical engineering and management for engineers double major, 3.90)
Pioneer Football League: Jacob Bacon, Drake, OL, Sr. (actuarial science and finance, 3.93; business administration in grad school, 4.0)
Southern Conference:Dorian Kithcart, Mercer, DL, R-Sr. (mechanical engineering degree, 3.54 GPA; mechanical engineering in grad school, 3.63)
Southland Conference:Chris Zirkle, Northwestern State, OL, R-Sr. (business degree, 3.83; homeland security in grad school, 4.00)
Southwestern Athletic Conference: Carl Thompson, Alabama State, OL, R-Jr. (computer information system, 3.6) 

***Report Courtesy of Western Illinois University Athletics***

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