BRISTOL, CT – (January 7, 2021) – Senior offensive lineman Teton Saltes of the University of New Mexico was announced as the 2020 recipient of the Wuerffel Trophy this evening on The Home Depot College Football Awards on ESPN. It was a night of several firsts for the award, as Saltes becomes the Wuerffel Trophy’s first recipient from the Mountain West Conference, and also, tonight was the first time the award was unveiled on the prestigious awards show itself.
The Wuerffel Trophy is awarded to the Football Bowl Subdivision football player who best exhibits exemplary community service, and was created in 2005 to inspire greater service in the world. The award exists to honor college football players who excel in Community Service and celebrate their positive impact on society.
“We are thrilled to announce that Teton is this year’s recipient of the Wuerffel Trophy and are honored to have him join the family of past recipients,” Wuerffel said. “His passion and tenacity in serving others, along with his excellence on the field and in the classroom, truly embodies what the Wuerffel Trophy is all about. Also, I wish we could give out three trophies, because our other two finalists are very deserving as well – Shai Werts of Georgia Southern and Sam Ehlinger of Texas. Congratulations to all these amazing student-athletes. It’s truly inspiring to see their unwavering commitment to make the world a better place.”
Saltes, a senior from Valley High School in Albuquerque, graduated with an undergraduate degree in political science and is currently enrolled in Law School. His academic honors include being named three-time Lobo Scholar-Athlete and two-time Mountain West All-Academic.
A three-year starter on the offensive line for the Lobos, Saltes was named Honorable Mention all MWC in 2019 and was named to the 2020 Outland Trophy Watch list. A two-time Wuerffel Trophy semifinalist, Saltes has also been named the 2020 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team Captain.
He volunteers his time working in the Native American communities in both New Mexico and in South Dakota in numerous ways. Suicide awareness and prevention, literacy through the BEAR (Be Excited About Reading) program, locally as a 4-year member and leader at Tree of Life (youth mentoring), Save the Children and raising funds for school supplies are just a few of the initiatives that he has spearheaded.
Saltes also lobbied within the New Mexico State Legislature on behalf of mental health funding for Division I athletes, resulting in having over $500,000 allocated specifically for behavioral and mental health of student-athletes. Early in the pandemic, he returned to South Dakota to assist those on the reservation, distributing food, medical supplies, and comfort to those in need, which were many. Outside of the U.S., Saltes works with underprivileged children in rural Cambodia and Uganda.
“Teton’s entire education at UNM has been geared to change the law for the betterment of a race of people,” said New Mexico Assistant Athletic Director of Communications, Frank Mercogliano. “He is truly changing the world for people.”
Saltes is the second Wuerffel Trophy finalist from the University of New Mexico, the first being offensive lineman Garrett Adcock in 2016.
The formal presentation of the 2020 Wuerffel Trophy will occur with Saltes at a time and place to be determined due to CoVID restrictions and will be shown virtually at the 52nd Annual All Sports Association Awards Banquet on Feb. 20, 2021, in Niceville, Florida.
Along with Saltes, past recipients of the Wuerffel Trophy are: 2019 Jon Wassink, Western Michigan University; 2018 Drue Tranquill, University of Notre Dame; 2017 Courtney Love, University of Kentucky; 2016 Trevor Knight, Texas A&M University; 2015 Ty Darlington, University of Oklahoma; 2014 Deterrian Shackelford, University of Mississippi; 2013 Gabe Ikard, University of Oklahoma; 2012 Matt Barkley, University of Southern California; 2011 Barrett Jones, University of Alabama; 2010 Sam Acho, University of Texas; 2008 Tim Tebow, University of Florida; 2007 Paul Smith, University of Tulsa; 2006 Joel Penton, Ohio State University; and 2005 Rudy Niswanger, Louisiana State University.
The Wuerffel Trophy is presented by Chick-fil-A® and is supported by its corporate partners, Dart Container Corporation/Solo Cup Company and Herff Jones.
The Wuerffel Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association. The NCFAA encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. Founded in 1997, The NCFAA and its 25 awards now boast more than 800 recipients, dating back to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about our story.
For more information on the Wuerffel Trophy, visit
# # #
Contact: Tom Brassell, [email protected], 850-585-5512