June 27, 2012
CINCINNATI - University of Cincinnati punter Pat O'Donnell (Lakeworth, Fla./Palm Beach Central) and former linebacker J.K. Schaffer (Cincinnati, Ohio/LaSalle) were awarded All-American Strength and Conditioning Athlete of the Year honors from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).
The award program, in its 33rd year, recognizes student-athletes dedication to strength training and conditioning. This year, the NSCA awarded 42 collegiate football players with the esteemed award.
"We are very proud of our football team and in particular these young men," Asst. AD for Sports Performance Dave Lawson said. "These two student-athletes represent the Bearcats football program well with their consistent hard work, leadership, and most of all with their toughness. They are very deserving of this award, demonstrated by their continued efforts both on the field and in the weight room."
UC led the BIG EAST in net punting behind the kicking of O'Donnell, a first-team all-league honoree. O'Donnell, a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award, finished with a net punting average of 43.8 yards per kick, including 26 kicks dropped inside the 20 and a league high 17 boots of 50 yards or more. O'Donnell also handled the kickoff duties, averaging 64.2 yards per kick and giving the opponent and average starting field position on the 27-yard line.
"Pat is the hardest working kicker in the country," Lawson said. "He is in tune to the importance of being a “Total Athlete” and how that helps him with success on the football field. He works alongside the rest of the players on the team with great effort and intensity."
Schaffer, the University of Cincinnati 2012 Mr. Bearcat Award winner and 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. The First-Team All-BIG EAST selection is just the fourth player in league history to register at least 100 tackles in three consecutive seasons, culminating in a career-high 114 stops in the 2011 season.
"JK has always been one of the hardest workers in our program," Lawson said. "He is a leader both on and off the field with his effort, intensity, work habits and just his general presence. He has been an extension of our strength staff by the way he helps coach and mentor the younger players in our program."