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Northwestern’s Jackson among 13 finalists for ‘Academic Heisman’

Northwestern senior running back Justin Jackson was named one of 13 finalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy, which recognizes the top scholar-athlete in college football. He’s Northwestern’s third finalist for the “Academic Heisman” in the last six years.

Jackson, an economics major with a minor in French, has found success in the classroom and on the field.

“You don’t come here and not get a degree,” Jackson said last December at the Pinstripe Bowl.

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Justin Jackson has been named one of the 13 finalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy, which recognizes the top scholar-athlete in college football. | Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

Jackson is a homegrown success story, having attended Glenbard North in west suburban Carol Stream.

Jackson tied the school’s all-time touchdown record (38) on Saturday when he scored in the second overtime against Michigan State. He’s also the Wildcats’ all-time leader in rushing yards, all-purpose yards and rushes.

Jackson should break Northwestern’s record for career rushing touchdowns (38). With four games left in the regular season, he has 37. He also has one touchdown catch.

Coach Pat Fitzgerald praised Jackson for the man he is on and off the field.

“Justin Jackson is the total package. He has everything you could ever ask for in a student-athlete,” Fitzgerald said in a statement. “He has unquestionably put together one of the most distinguished careers in our program’s history on the field, excelled in the classroom and made a remarkable impact on his community and his peers as a leader. We’re so proud Justin is a part of our family. His future is limitless.”

The semifinalists come from all divisions of college football and receive an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship. The winner will be announced Dec. 5 at the National Football Foundation awards dinner and College Football Hall of Fame induction and receive an additional $7,000 scholarship.

The other semifinalists: Sam Benger of Carnegie Mellon; Mason Hampton of Boise State; Justin Lea of Jacksonville State; Brad Lundblade of Oklahoma State; Marcus Martin of Slippery Rock; Chandon Sullivan of Georgia State; Blaise Taylor of Arkansas State; Marlon Wells of Stephen F. Austin; Chris Weber of Nebraska; and Jake Wieneke of South Dakota State.

Contributing: Associated Press

Follow me on Twitter @madkenney.

Email: mkenney@suntimes.com