MORGANTOWN, W.VA. — The finalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy were announced on Wednesday, and West Virginia safety Sean Mahone earned a spot on the list.

The award recognizes student-athletes for their “combined academic success, football performance and exemplary leadership.” The 13 finalists were selected from the 176 semifinalists. Mahone found that he was a recipient of that prestigious honor when two special guests arrived at practice on Tuesday.

“After practice, (WVU Director of Athletics) Shane Lyons and President Gee came up and talked to us, and at first, I didn’t know anything,” Mahone said in an exclusive interview for this weekend’s edition of The Neal Brown Show. “But then they said something about a prestigious award and then I knew right off the bat, I was like ‘oh this might be me’. When I was announced as a finalist, it caught me off guard because I didn’t think I was going to get selected. After hearing that, I was grateful and appreciative to them for coming up and acknowledging me. It’s a huge honor.”

The redshirt senior has taken full advantage of the opportunities WVU has to offer over the past couple of years. Mahone graduated magna cum laude with a degree in management information systems in 2020. In May of 2021, he earned his MBA and graduated with a 3.7 GPA. He is one of two finalists with a master’s degree. He is also a four-time First-Team Academic All-Big 12 selection and a member the Big 12 Commissioner’s and the WVU Garrett Ford Academic honor rolls.

“My parents always harped on doing good in school and being a good role model. I didn’t want to be that person that messed up in school or had issues. I wanted to be on top of it. Eventually, it paid off and happy to be a finalist for the award,” Mahone said.

From a young age, education was just as important to Mahone as his talent on the field. He’s aware there will come a day when he will have to hang up the cleats, which made having a reliable backup plan even more important. So, what will that career path look like when football has run its course?

“Future wise, I am still trying to figure out what I want to do. I got my two degrees, but Dr. Mahone sounds pretty nice, but that’s like three more years, so,” Mahone said.

Whether or not Mahone does decide to add “Dr.” in front of his name, he’s set himself up for great a future in whatever he chooses. He’s just the seventh Mountaineer to be named to the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Team. The finalists will each receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship and that number increases to $25,000 for whoever earns the award. The winner of the 32nd William V. Campbell Trophy will be announced on December 7.

“A tremendous honor. He will be part of the National Football Foundation’s banquet at the beginning of December, and if you look at who has won that, it’s the who’s who. It’s often spoken it is the Heisman Trophy of academics,” head coach Neal Brown said in an exclusive interview for his television show. “When you get those types of awards, it is really a program award. The sports information department has a big piece in that and obviously our academic staff. Very proud of him and we were able to honor him in front of the whole team. Shane Lyons came, Dr. Gee and our players made a big deal out of it, as well.”

Other Mountaineers to achieve this honor include Oliver Luck, Jeff Hostetler and Reed Williams.

2021 William V. Campbell Trophy finalists:

Troy Andersen, LB – Montana State (3.91 GPA – Agricultural Business)
Thomas Booker, DE – Stanford (3.88 GPA – Economics & Communications)
Mike Caliendo, OL – Western Michigan (3.90 GPA – Biomedical Sciences)
Sean Clifford, QB – Penn State (3.45 GPA – Public Relations)
Cameron Dukes, QB – Lindsey Wilson [KY] (3.89 GPA – Physical Education & Health)
Patrick Fields, DB – Oklahoma (3.82 GPA – Accounting)
Matt Henningsen, DE – Wisconsin (4.00 GPA – Electrical Engineering)
Aidan Hutchinson, DE – Michigan (3.54 GPA – Applied Exercise Science)
Joshua King, LB – U.S. Merchant Marine Academy [NY] (3.73 GPA – Marine Engineering)
Charlie Kolar, TE – Iowa State (3.99 GPA – Mechanical Engineering)
Henry Litwin, WR – Slippery Rock [PA] (3.66 GPA – Safety Management)
Sean Mahone, S – West Virginia (3.60 GPA – Management Information Systems)
Grant Morgan, LB – Arkansas (3.66 GPA – Kinesiology)