Tanner Volk Honored as Cliff Harris Award Winner

April 23rd, 2024 12:00pm

Tanner Volk Honored as Cliff Harris Award Winner

Central Washington safety Tanner Volk officially received the Cliff Harris Award this week in a celebration honoring all three award winners from NCAA Divisions II and II and NAIA.Volk was named the Division II winner on December 28, 2023. 

Press release and photo Courtesy of The Little Rock Touchdown Club

FRISCO, Texas - The prestigious Cliff Harris Award, presented by the Little Rock Touchdown Club and generously sponsored by Wright Lindsey Jennings, was officially given to three exceptional young athletes in a historic celebration at 'The Star' in Frisco, Texas. Pro Football Hall of Famer Cliff Harris, alongside David Bazzel, President of the Little Rock Touchdown Club, honoring each of the deserving winners from NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III, and NAIA with their own trophy. "What a truly outstanding group of young men we honored today," expressed Harris. "Being able to show them around the Cowboys' facilities and share stories of our Super Bowl runs in Dallas, while also learning about each one of them and their teams was truly special. I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did." This year marked a monumental occasion for the award, as three winners were selected across different divisions of college football, highlighting excellence at each level.

"What an incredible moment to have all three winners at 'The Star' with their families and coaches to meet Cliff and get a chance to hold their trophies," said Bazzel. "Can't thank the folks at Wright Lindsey Jennings enough for their sponsorship, the Cowboys and my old teammate Stephen Jones for visiting with our group, and Greg Hatcher for all his support of our club and the awards we sponsor. We could not do it without them."

NCAA Division II winner Tanner Volk out of Central Washington University led the nation in both interceptions(13) and total tackles(124). "I'm just so honored and humbled to win a prestigious award like this," Volk said. "It's just amazing to be here and I'm super excited. It's a great day for small college football for sure."

Division III winner Owen Grover out of Wartburg College led his team with 113 total tackles and was named AFCA First Team All American. "Obviously winning an award like this is an incredible honor," expressed Grover. "To get to meet Cliff, a guy that experienced the same things, being at a small college football as we did, and went on to do the things that he did and shape the game and shape the NFL and this organization was awesome, it was incredible."

NAIA winner Tristan Waugh from Grand View University led the NAIA in both sacks(15) and tackles for loss(23). "I mean it's a surreal experience being down here in the Cowboys organization," said Waugh. "It's a once in a lifetime deal and just excited that I'm getting to be a part of it."

About the Cliff Harris Award: The Cliff Harris Award is an annual recognition program dedicated to celebrating exceptional defensive players in small college football. Named after Pro Football of Famer Cliff Harris, the award acknowledges players who exhibit excellence on and off the field.

The Trophy: One of the most unique awards in all of college football, the $3,000 Cliff Harris Award trophy stands almost two foot tall and weighs 35 pounds. A rare two figurine sports action bronze sculpture, the Cliff Harris Award represents an actual tackle by NFL Hall of Fame and Dallas Cowboy great Cliff Harris, against Harold Jackson of the Los Angeles Rams. What makes this trophy truly exceptional is its intricate design, showcasing extreme angles and attachment points that secure the two bronze players to a three-tier walnut wood base, setting it apart from any other trophy in all levels of college football. Crafted from fourteen distinct bronze pieces, its assembly process ranks among the most intricate and complex in sports awards. Every winner from DII, DIII and NAIA will receive their own Cliff Harris Award trophy. Sculpted by Raymond Gibby and designed by David Bazzel, this trophy embodies excellence in both craftsmanship and football achievement.