May 14, 2012
Former University of Cincinnati linebacker J.K. Schaffer (Cincinnati, Ohio/LaSalle) was named the recipient of the 2012 Mr. Bearcat Award at All-University Recognition Ceremony on Sunday, May 6, 2012 at the Tangeman University Center.
Since 1958, Sigma Sigma Honor Fraternity has honored one graduating man each year with the Mr. Bearcat Award. The Mr. Bearcat Award is to recognize and honor the outstanding graduating senior man who has achieved academic success, demonstrated leadership in diverse settings, and made a significant contribution to the University of Cincinnati, all while displaying "Bearcat spirit".
Schaffer, nominated by Athletics Academic Advisor Keri Thoman, is the 10th student-athlete all-time to win the honor and the first in the past 20 years.
"I'm honored to be the 2012 Mr. Bearcat award winner," Schaffer said. "I am a Cincinnati guy who always dreamed of playing for the University of Cincinnati. I love being in this city and just doing what I can to make the city proud and the university proud. UC will forever be a part of my life and my families' lives. This is very special to me because I know of so many deserving men on this campus who could have very easily received this award, and I will forever be proud of being Mr. Bearcat."
In her nomination, Thoman called Schaffer a true Cincinnati man who had an exceptional academic record, a kind disposition, strong moral fabric, and unwavering leadership abilities.
"Despite his list of accomplishments, the most impressive thing about JK is that he is a good person," Thoman said. "He truly cares about his impact on others and how he makes others feel. He is thoughtful and kind. He acts responsibly and embraces his roles as a mentor, a teammate, a student, and a role model. I can think of no other person who is more deserving of being named Mr. Bearcat."
Schaffer, the 2011 American Eagle Outfitters BIG EAST Conference Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year, was a two-year captain during Cincinnati's most prosperous run in program history. He is just the fourth player in BIG EAST history to register at least 100 tackles in three consecutive seasons, culminating in a career-high 114 stops in the 2011 season.
A three-year starter, two-time all-conference player and a member of three BIG EAST Championship teams, Schaffer had 337 career tackles, leading all BIG EAST players who were active in 2011. He finished his career with 27.5 tackles for loss, 15 pass breakups, six forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He earned First-Team All-BIG EAST honors in 2011 after he ranked third in the conference in tackles (8.8 per game), had four sacks and led a Cincinnati unit that led the nation in sacks (8.6 per game) and was sixth nationally in rushing defense (96.2 ypg). He was an All-BIG EAST Second Team choice in 2010.
Schaffer was a key contributor for three BIG EAST championship teams - the 2008 and 2009 squads that won outright titles and played in consecutive Bowl Championship Series games and the 2011 team that won a share of the championship and ended the year with a win in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
In addition to his on-field accomplishments, Schaffer carries a 3.705 grade-point average as a criminal justice major. He is a member of the Sigma Sigma honorary fraternity and a four-time selection to the BIG EAST All-Academic Team. Schaffer earned a 4.00 grade-point average in the fall 2011 quarter. Schaffer is also a member the National Football Foundation's Hampshire Honor Society.
Schaffer has volunteered his time in a number of community service endeavors, including regular visits to local hospitals and schools to motivate Cincinnati-area children. He is a contributor to the Ronald McDonald House of Cincinnati.
Schaffer will graduate in June and signed a free agent deal with the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars.
"JK Schaffer embodies what a student-athlete is and should be," Head Coach Butch Jones said. "He is one of impeccable character, a model of consistency, a very driven individual, competitive and has a tremendous amount of desire and passion. He is a great example of what we come to expect in our football program."