St. Thomas playmaker Fritz Waldvogel has been chosen as the first recipient of the Bobby Bell Impact Player Award by the Minnesota chapter of the National Football Foundation (NFF).
Waldovogel, who completed a record-setting career last December, was selected for the elite 2011 award from players at all 26 Minnesota college teams in Division I, II and III.
Bell, a former Minnesota Gopher and NFL star defensive lineman, will be the keynote speaker and present the award Sunday April 22 when the NFF Minnesota banquet is held at 6 p.m. on the St. Thomas campus. WCCO-TV news personality Frank Vascellaro will return for his fifth year as master of ceremonies. The event is open to the public. To purchase tickets, please visit the Minnesota Chapter website (www.nffmn.org).
Bell was a member of the Gophers' 1960 national championship squad, played with Minnesota in two Rose Bowls, and was later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He won a Super Bowl ring in 1969 with Kansas City, racked up multiple Pro Bowl appearances, and had his number retired by the Chiefs.
An Academic All-America, two-time All-America and two-time MIAC Player of the Year, Waldvogel led UST to back-to-back conference championships in 2010 and 2011 -- the school’s first since 1948 and 1949. St. Thomas became the first conference football team to post back-to-back 10-0 regular-season finishes.
The elite WR-KR started a school-record 50 games and led the Tommies to a 43-7 overall record. He recorded 46 touchdowns (10 on kick returns), 300 receptions, 4,289 receiving yards and 7,433 all-purpose yards.
Waldvogel was one of four national finalists for the 2011 Gagliardi Trophy as Division III's best player, scholar and citizen. In 2009, he became the first sophomore in history named Conference Player of the Year, and won the same honor in 2011 to become just the second two-time recipient. He received MIAC Player of the Week honors six times in his career.
He caught at least one pass in all 50 career games, and tied an NCAA D-III record with at least one reception in all 40 regular-season games of his career.
In 2009 he led all NCAA D-I, II or III players in kick/punt return touchdowns with six. His 10 career kick/punt-return touchdowns rank first in conference history and second most in Division III history. Waldvogel also returned two other kicks inside the opponents six-yard line, and returned three kicks for TDs as a prep senior at St. Thomas Academy. He also tied an NCAA record with two punt returns for TDs in one quarter in 2009 win over Macalester. He had the rare feat of returning the opening kickoffs for touchdowns in back-to-back 2009 games (Carleton, Augsburg). He also had a 71-yard kickoff return in 2009 NCAA playoff road win at Monmouth, and 100-yard kickoff return to the end zone in the 2011 playoff win over Monmouth.
In all, he recorded 43 career gains of 38 or more yards on receptions, returns and rushes.
His 46 career touchdowns, third most in school history, included at least one against each of his eight conference opponents and at least one against 16 different teams. He had 14 multiple-TD games, and the Tommies went 14-0 in those games. He scored nine touchdowns in his 10 career NCAA playoff games.
He's only the second MIAC player and just the 10th Division III return man to surpass 1,000 yards on punts and 1,000 yards on kickoffs for his career.
Waldvogel has a 3.60 grade-point average in Finance and is co-President for UST's Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). In summer 2011, helped at the Minnesota Life College Scholarship and Program Gala. The event raised money to help people with Autism and other mentally challenging illnesses. Has participated in a community clean up around the St. Thomas campus by helping neighbors keep the surrounding environment clean. In January 2010, co-founded Pennies to Port-Au-Prince, which helped raise over $1,400 by collecting loose change from St. Thomas students and was then donated to the Red Cross for the Haiti relief efforts. He also participated in a “Toys for Teens” drive and a food drive for the Second Harvest food shelf.
Waldvogel has signed a contract to play pro football in 2012 with the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorn of the German Football League. Waldvogel will report to the Unicorn after he graduates in May. The season there lasts into October.
Schwabisch, which runs a spread offense, went 16-0 in 2011 and was quarterbacked by ex-Linfield (Ore.) College standout Aaron Boehme, who faced the Tommies in the 2009 and 2010 NCAA playoffs. Linfield defensive tackle Paul Nishizaki also played with the Unicorns.
German league teams can sign only one new American player each season on each side of the ball.
Waldvogel has a full-time job waiting for him after this May's graduation but was able to get his employment start date delayed.