Soza, who was named to the Manning Award (nation’s top QB) watch list earlier this month, owns a 12-8 record (.600) in two seasons as UTSA’s starting quarterback. He is the program’s all-time leading passer (338-for-589/4,233 yards/34 TDs) and rusher by attempts (162 for 649 yards).
The Beeville native is coming off a junior campaign that saw him complete 166-of-282 (58.9 percent) passes for 2,085 yards and 20 touchdowns, including a program-record four at No. 22 Louisiana Tech (Nov. 3). His 314 passing yards against the Bulldogs and 82-yard TD toss to Kenny Bias at New Mexico State (Sept. 29) also were school marks. The 6-foot, 210-pounder threw just three interceptions and, at one time, went a Football Bowl Subdivision-leading 256 passes between picks. He also ran for 364 yards and six TDs on 67 carries (5.4 avg.) and tied a program record with three rushing scores at Idaho (Nov. 17).
Founded in late 2012 by the Tyler Chamber of Commerce and SPORTyler, the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award will recognize the top offensive player in Division I (FBS/FCS) with ties to the state of Texas who also exhibits the enduring characteristics that define Earl Campbell — integrity, performance, teamwork, sportsmanship, drive, community and tenacity; specifically the tenacity to persist and determination to overcome adversity and injury in pursuit of reaching goals. All nominees also must have been born in the state of Texas, graduated from a Texas high school and/or played at a Texas-based junior college or four-year university.
The watch list will be narrowed to 16 semifinalists on Nov. 18 and four finalists will be unveiled two weeks later. The four finalists will attend the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Awards Banquet on Jan. 10, 2014, where the inaugural winner will be announced.
Campbell graduated from Tyler’s John Tyler High School before playing for the Texas Longhorns from 1974-77. He led the nation with 1,744 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior en route to winning the 1977 Heisman Trophy.
Campbell was drafted by the National Football League’s Houston Oilers in 1978 and went on to win Rookie of the Year honors that fall. He was tabbed the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1979 and led the league in rushing three times. Campbell was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1991.