July 30, 2013
Fred Mitchell Award Watch List
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Missouri State senior Austin Witmer (Grand Island, Neb.) became the most-recent Bear to earn national preseason recognition with his inclusion on the Fred Mitchell Award watch list, which honors excellence on the football field and in the community.
Witmer is coming off a breakthrough junior season in which he was the Bears' top scorer (56) after converting 12-of-16 field goal tries and booting through 20-of-22 extra-point attempts. The Grand Island, Neb., product averaged 60.5 yards on 44 kickoffs with 23 touchbacks. Additionally, he was fourth in the MVFC and tied for 28th nationally in field goals per game (1.09), while ranking 13th in the Valley in scoring (5.09).
One of 34 kickers chosen for the Fred Mitchell Award watch list, Witmer booted a career-long 47-yard field goal against South Dakota (Oct. 13) and later converted a 33-yarder as time expired to secure the Bears' 27-24 win over the Coyotes to earn Beyond Sports Network's National Special Teams Player of the Week honor. He also accounted for all nine MSU points by going 3-for-3 on field goal tries in MSU's season opener at No. 22 Kansas State (Sept. 1).
Witmer's community service off the field includes volunteer work with Champions Committed to Kids, the JustRead! program, Meals A Million, Ozarks Food Harvest and MSU Catholic Campus Ministry.
The Fred Mitchell Outstanding Place-Kicker Award is presented annually to the nation's top collegiate place-kicker among more than 750 FCS, Division II, III, NAIA and NJCAA football teams. The award is named for Fred Mitchell, a record-setting place-kicker, Wittenberg University Athletic Hall of Famer, author, philanthropist and Chicago Tribune sports columnist.
Following the release of the award's initial watch list, top performers are recognized monthly during the college football season, and the winner is announced in mid-December. The school of the award winner receives scholarship funds and the Fred Mitchell Award trophy is presented each February at the National Football Foundation Chicago Metro Chapter awards ceremony.
The Bears, who return 17 starters and 41 lettermen from last fall's squad, are set to open camp Wednesday (July 31). Eighth-year head coach Terry Allen and select MSU players will meet the media at the Bears' annual Media Day event on Monday (Aug. 5) at Plaster Field.