Tennessee’s Trey Smith was named one of 20 semifinalists for the Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award, the organization’s selection committee announced on Wednesday.
Smith is one of just three juniors recognized and one of four players from the SEC on the list that selects a student-athlete who has demonstrated a record of leadership by exhibiting exceptional courage, integrity and sportsmanship both on and off the field.
Three finalists will be named for the award on Monday, December 16.
The winner will be announced at the award ceremony on February 18, 2020, at The Star in Frisco, Texas.
One of the most dominant linemen in football, Smith was a Freshman All-American who has had to fight his way back on the field after being diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs before the start of his sophomore season. His return to the field and excellent play this season has been an inspiration to his team.
A member of the 2018 SEC Community Service Team and Wuerffel Trophy nominee, Smith spearheaded a coat drive for the Knoxville Area Rescue Ministry and was selected as a member of the 2018 VOLeaders Class, a group of leaders chosen across all sports.
Smith has started nine games this season at left guard and has played a key role in the Vols’ upward trajectory with the team currently on a three-game win streak. As one of the most experienced offensive linemen on the team, the Jackson, Tenn., Smith has been a vocal leader for the Vols and mentor to younger linemen.
The award, presented by Albertsons and Tom Thumb, is the first college football honor to focus primarily on a player’s leadership, both on and off the field. Leadership is a term synonymous with Tennessee alum Jason Witten, who, in addition to becoming one of the best tight ends in the history of the sport and the Cowboys’ all-time leading receiver, has served as one of football’s most prominent role models during his 16-year pro career. In addition to winning the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award in 2012, Witten also received the Bart Starr Award, Pro Football Weekly’s Humanitarian of the Year Award, Home Depot NFL Neighborhood MVP and the Bob Lilly Award, among many others. All of those honors have recognized his work in the community, achievements on the field and dedication to his teammates and family.
The winner of the Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year will also receive a $10,000 contribution in his name to his school’s athletic scholarship fund. The contribution will be made by Jason Witten’s SCORE Foundation, the official charity of Jason and his wife Michelle.