Two NESCAC Players Earn Gridiron Club Awards

Ryan McDonald of Tufts and Joe Wilson of Wesleyan were honored by the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston

Courtesy of Tufts and Wesleyan Sports Information

BOSTON, Mass. – Tufts senior and quarterback Ryan McDonald and Wesleyan senior offensive lineman Joe Wilson were honored by the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston. McDonald was announced as the recipient of the 23rd annual Joe Zabilski Award, which recognizes New England's top offensive and defensive players in Divisions II/III. Wilson received the 73rd annual Nils V. "Swede" Nelson Award honoring a Division I and Division II/III athlete from New England for their exceptional achievement in sportsmanship, academics, and athletics. Both players will receive the honor at the Gridiron Club's annual banquet on Wednesday, December 19 at the Burlington (MA) Marriott Hotel.


McDonald, the NESCAC Co-Offensive Player of the Year, helped lead the Jumbos to a 7-2 record with the top passing season in the NESCAC. He led the league with 167 completions, a 61.6 completion percentage, 1,811 passing yards (201.2 per game) and 17 touchdown passes this fall. His 133.3 efficiency rating was second in the NESCAC. McDonald also led the Jumbos in rushing with 458 yards and had nine touchdowns, which were the second-most on the ground in NESCAC.

Rushing and passing combined, the All-NESCAC First Team quarterback accounted for 26 touchdowns. He set the program's single-season (2,269) and career records (6,004) for total yards this fall.

Tufts has won two of the last three Zabilski offensive awards. Running back Chance Brady was the 2016 recipient. Tufts' Mark Tilki won the Zabilski Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2003.

Wilson is the first-ever Wesleyan athlete to receive the award. Boston College defensive end Zach Allen earned the honor from the Bowl Championship Division. In addition to the Swede Nelson Award, Wilson also earned Google Cloud Academic All-District® First Team honors and was named a Second Team All-NESCAC (Offense) selection.

Wilson has been named an Academic All-District First Team selection two years in a row. The honor, which is selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), recognizes the nation's top student-athletes for their combined performances on the field and in the classroom.  

The senior offensive lineman from Portland, Ore. also received the third All-NESCAC honor of his career. He was named to the Second Team as a first year and senior and received First Team laurels as a sophomore.