CALIFORNIA, Pa. — Eric Hudanick is already one of the best offensive linemen in NCAA Division II.
He's also one of the best student-athletes at California (Pa.) University.
Now the Seneca Valley graduate has a chance to be named the best football scholar-athlete in the nation.
The 6-foot-3, 275-pound Hudanick, a senior and already a three-year starter up front for the Vulcans, is one of 199 semifinalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy. That award goes to the nation's top football scholar-athlete and covers all divisions of college football.
Hudanick carries a 3.54 cumulative grade point average as a double major (finance and economics) and is scheduled to graduate in December.
“I'm only one of 20 players in Division II nationwide to be a semifinalist,” Hudanick said. “That's humbling.”
He is also one of only two players from the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference to reach the semifinals. Mason McElroy of Kutztown is the other.
Hudanick started all 10 games at left tackle for the Vulcans as a freshman. He's started 22 successive games the past two years at right tackle.
He will become a four-year starter next spring when Hudanick plays for California during an abbreviated five-game regular season schedule.
“Thankfully, Eric decided to attend graduate school here and finish out his football eligibility,” California coach Gary Dunn said. “He'll be eligible to play for us next fall as well.”
All senior football players this year have been extended another year of eligibility next fall.
“I plan to use up every ounce of my eligibility on the field,” Hudanick said. “This is all the football I've got left.”
Hudanick's older brother, Tyler, was a starting offensive lineman at Central Florida and is now a graduate assistant coach on the staff there.
Eric Hudanick isn't ruling out taking a similar path. He is volunteering his time as an offensive line coach at Seneca Valley this fall with two former teammates who are also now playing in college.
“I can't imagine not having those guys on our staff next year,” SV coach Ron Butschle said. “They've been a tremendous help to us. Eric has gone on to succeed at a very high level of football and our kids know that.
“He's been doing a great job working with our young offensive linemen.”
Hudanick has refined his football skills through working with his brother during recent summers. He spent a couple of weeks with him in Florida as well.
“Tyler's been a huge help to me,” he said. “He gave me the tips I needed to play right away in college. He played early in his career at Central Florida.”
Hudanick's long tenure in California's lineup isn't lost on Dunn.
“It is so rare for a lineman to start four years in college,” the coach said. “If you're a running back who could run in high school, you can probably run in college. If you can catch the ball in high school, you can catch the ball in college.
“But playing on the line, the mental and physical maturity that's required ... this kid started as a true freshman. You just don't see that.”
Hudanick carried a 3.8 GPA in high school at Seneca Valley.