Cleaver Wins National Scholarship

November 29, 2004

11/29/04 - The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame has announced its 2004 National Scholar-Athlete Class of 15, which this year includes student-athletes from all NCAA divisions, I-A, I-AA, II, and III.  <?xml:namespace prefix = "st1" ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Middlebury College football player Tom Cleaver (Severna Park, Md.) was one of three Division III athletes to earn the scholarship.

To be eligible for a National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame post-graduate fellowship, the nominee must be a senior or graduate student in his final year of eligibility, have a grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, have shown superior academic application and performance, have outstanding football ability as a first team player, and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship.<?xml:namespace prefix = "o" ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

"After thorough review of over 150 outstanding candidates representing schools of all sizes and all playing levels, the committee's deliberations resulted in the selection of an exceptional 15 scholar-athletes," stated Robert E. Mulcahy III, chairman of the Awards Committee and director of athletics at Rutgers University.  Knowing the importance of these awards, the committee takes the charge of selecting the best and brightest seriously, and I applaud them for this effort.

These scholar-athletes will be recognized at The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame's 47th Annual Awards Dinner on December 7, at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City.  Also being honored at the dinner will be the 2004 College Football Hall of Fame Division I-A Class, which will share the dais with these scholar-athletes. 

Each scholar-athlete receives an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship, and that evening, one will receive the Draddy Trophy as the top scholar-athlete in the nation, increasing the scholarship to $25,000. 

A true inspiration to his family, friends, teammates, coaches and classmates, Cleaver has exceeded the greatest of expectations, athletically and academically, while he boldly continues to fight Chronic Mylogenous Leukemia.

Despite a long absence from school while receiving treatments and visiting hospitals, Cleaver admirably maintained his impressive academic record.  A political science major and economics minor, he is a Dean's List member and is scheduled to graduate in 2005.

While his triumphs in the classroom are impressive, his gains on the gridiron are remarkable.  Since his disease rendered him temporarily blind on the field in 2001 and chemotherapy weakened his body, he has launched himself into a rigorous training regiment, which has enabled his return to the field.

In his first game back, he caught five passes for a team-high 76 yards and two touchdowns.  In 2003, he earned first-team All-Conference honors, while repeating the feat in 2004. He led the NESCAC with 7.75 receptions/game as well as 117.9 yards receiving/contest this past season. He caught 62 passes for 943 yards with five touchdowns. He ends his career at Middlebury with school records for most catches in a season (62 in '04), most yards receiving in a season (943 in '04) and in a career (1,974).

Director of the Middlebury M.S. Walk, he has also received the ECAC Award of Valor, the conference's highest award, which is presented to a student-athlete whose courage, motivation and relentless determination serves as an inspiration to all.