Fish Smithson named candidate for Senior CLASS Award

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas safety Fish Smithson was one of 30 NCAA® Football Bowl Subdivision student-athletes to be named a candidate for the 2016 Senior CLASS Award® in collegiate football along with the Senior CLASS Award’s first-ever honorary nominee. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I FBS senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition.
Smithson, a native of Baltimore, Maryland, is the heart and soul of the Jayhawk defense as he is tied for the team lead in tackles with 24 stops on the season. Smithson ranks among the Big 12 Conference leaders with two interceptions and four pass breakups. A two-time team captain and Academic All-Big 12 honoree, he led the NCAA in solo tackles in 2015 with 7.9 per game, on his way to picking up Second Team All-Big 12 accolades. In addition to his standout performances on the field and in the classroom, Smithson is a regular when it comes to community service activities.
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. 
Of the 30 candidates, 18 have grade-point averages of 3.0 or higher with seven of those holding above a 3.5. Five are returning All-Americans, and 22 were all-conference selections in 2016. Outside of academics and athletics, all candidates have been consistently involved in community service on their campus or in their communities.
This year, the Senior CLASS Award also will honor deceased Nebraska student-athlete Sam Foltz by making him an honorary candidate. The 2015 Big Ten Punter of the Year and a preseason candidate for the Ray Guy Award, Foltz was killed in an automobile accident on July 23, 2016, after attending a kicking camp in Wisconsin. A standout on the field as well as in the classroom and community, Foltz was a five-time member of the Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll, a member of both the Brook Berringer and Tom Osborne Citizenship teams, and earlier this year was awarded a Nebraska Student-Athlete HERO Leadership Award, which recognizes exceptional leadership, consistent and dedicated community service and positive influence on the team.
To determine the final Senior CLASS Award winner, the 30 candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the regular season, and those names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select one candidate who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition. Along with the winner, the 10 finalists will be awarded Senior CLASS Award first- or second-team honors.
Kansas’ Smithson is following in the footsteps of fellow Jayhawk defensive back, JaCorey Shepherd, who was a candidate in 2014—earning a spot as a finalist. Shepherd finished the voting as a second team honoree. Smithson is one of four players from the Big 12 to be named a candidate, joining Jordan Evans of Oklahoma and a pair of players from West Virginia in Skyler Howard and Tyler Orlosky.
The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the football bowl season in early January. For more information on the candidates, visit