Brains and Brawn

Griz football player Derek Crittenden chases Rhodes Scholarship


Categories: Campus , Athletics

Crittenden is a team captain this season.
Crittenden is a team captain this season.

Griz senior defensive end Derek Crittenden is smarter than your average bear.Whitefish native Derek Crittenden maintains a 4.0 GPA as a chemistry major with minors in mathematics and philosophy.

In his five years at UM, Crittenden waited for his turn to lead the Grizzlies and watched as other defensive stars have gone on to represent UM on football’s biggest stage in the NFL.

This season, Crittenden, voted captain by his teammates, not only gets the opportunity to make his mark on the field, he also will compete on the biggest stage in the academic arena as one of UM’s nominees for this year’s Rhodes Scholarship, “the oldest and most celebrated international fellowship awards in the world,” according to

“The Rhodes Scholarship is almost unarguably the most prestigious award you can get in academics,” Crittenden says. “It’s awesome to be on that stage, but now I’ve really got to step my game up because I’m competing against the best of the best from across the country. So it’s game time now.”

That competitive streak has earned Crittenden many accolades during his time as a Griz, including being named to four consecutive Big Sky Conference All-Academic teams, winning the prestigious President’s Award for highest student-athlete GPA four years running, and maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA as a chemistry major with minors in mathematics and philosophy.

He will receive one of UM’s nominations for the Rhodes Scholarship in October, putting him in a pool of seventy of the best students in the Fourteenth U.S. Rhodes District, which includes Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. From that pool, he will be in the running for one of twelve interviews. Of those, only two will earn full scholarships to the famed University of Oxford in England.

UM English Professor Ashby Kinch serves as Crittenden’s Rhodes adviser and is helping the scholar-athlete navigate the application process.

“For Derek to be doing what he’s doing, in a competitive Division I sport that takes an incredible amount of time, and then be 4.0 in one of the hardest disciplines on campus, it’s immensely impressive,” Kinch says. “It’s just a tremendously impressive personal character that has drawn him through that process, and I think the committee is going to see that. I hope they do.”
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