After a decorated high school career and an even more impressive college career, Zach Watkins is used to many things. This last piece of news caught him off guard.

After a decorated high school career and an even more impressive college career, Zach Watkins is used to many things. This last piece of news caught him off guard.
Watkins, a former standout linebacker at Truman High School, was nominated for the 2008-09 Ken B. Jones Award as the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association Student-Athlete of the Year. The award is considered the highest honor given out by the MIAA.
Watkins, currently a redshirt junior at Washburn University in Topeka, Kan., was shocked to hear of his nomination.
“I was excited. Surprised. I’m just a junior so somebody high up must have nominated me,” he said. “It feels like a big deal.”
Watkins didn’t know much about the award at the time of his nomination.
“I didn’t expect it at all,” he said. “I hadn’t heard much about it or what the qualifications were, so I was pretty surprised.”
Nominees for the award must be at least a junior and must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better.
Watkins has been a football team captain the past few years and is on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and the Leadership Council for the football team.
“We talk to the coaches about everything going on and what needs to change and get done,” Watkins said of the council.
Although he’s been nominated for such a prestigious award, Watkins is still being humble about the situation.
“It’d be nice to win, but I don’t expect it,” he said. “The MIAA has a lot of good student-athletes. That’s why it’s the toughest division to compete in in Division II.”
Watkins graduated from Truman in 2005, earning Examiner All-Area honors.
At Washburn, Watkins was named to the Don Hansen Football Gazette Division II All-American second team and to the CoSIDA(College Sports Information Directors Association)/ESPN The Magazine All-American team after finishing second in the MIAA in tackles with 120.
His tackles per game average was 12th in the nation. Winners will be announced Monday.