St. Thomas senior wide receiver Fritz Waldvogel was recently named the first recipient of the Bobby Bell Impact Player Award by the National Football Foundation.
Waldvogel completed his senior season with record-setting numbers and was selected for the award from players at all 26 Minnesota college teams in Division I, II and III.
An Academic All-America, two-time All-America and two-time MIAC Player of the Year, Waldvogel is no stranger to receiving awards, but he said the Bobby Bell award “means a lot” to him because it reflects well on his team.
“It’s a pretty cool award since its through all of the divisions and everything. But like anything else, it’s more of a team award, probably because of the season that we had last year,” Waldvogel said.
Last year, Waldvogel led the Tommies to their first NCAA semifinal game against Wisconsin-Whitewater. He was instrumental in back-to-back MIAC conference championships in 2010 and 2011 and also was part of the first ever St. Thomas team to post back-to-back 10-0 regular seasons.
He 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.
The Impact Player Award got its namesake from former Minnesota Gopher and National Football League star Bobby Bell. Bell played on the Gophers’ 1960 national championship team and also participated in two Rose Bowl games during his college career. He went on to win a Superbowl in 1969 with the Kansas City Chiefs and later had his number retired.
The star defensive lineman will present Waldvogel with the award on Sunday, April 22, during the National Football Foundation’s Minnesota banquet, which will take place at St. Thomas.
Throughout his career, Waldvogel has made it apparent that much of his success is due to his teammates and coaches. Coach Glenn Caruso believes Waldvogel’s humble attitude on and off the field is one of his best qualities.
“He (Waldvogel) is without question among the elite in the nation, but he works everyday like he is not entitled to anything,” Caruso said. “There are several ways in which he has helped this program grow. What you saw on the field on Saturdays in the fall was only a small portion of it.”
Caruso said Waldvogel’s success comes from how hard he has worked in the weight room, on the field and in the community.
“A very, very smart man once told me, ‘when your best players are your hardest workers, you have something good going,’ and that’s the case with Fritz,” Caruso said.
Waldvogel will continue his football career next season in Europe. He is signed to play for the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns of the German Football League and will report to the Unicorns after he graduates in May. The season there lasts into October.
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.
Jake Swansson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.