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The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame (NFF) announced Friday that William Penn senior lineman Nate Valdez had been named the organization's Play It Smart National Student-Athlete of the Month for September.

Valdez, one of the captains of a Bearcats squad that has opened the season 5-0, beat out 36 other nominees to earn the monthly honor.

According to a press release from the NFF, Valdez earned the award not only for his performance on the field, but for his dedication in the classroom (he holds a 4.0 GPA) and in the community.

Over the last several years, Valdez has volunteered as a mentor through "New Hustle," an African-American/Latino male mentoring initiative; donated time in local soup kitchens; and also worked as a mentor in the 21st Century program, according to the press release.

Valdez is a pretty darn good football player, as well. He's considering offers to play collegiately at either Harvard or Princeton, and plans to major in computer engineering.

The Play It Smart program, created by the NFF in 1998, is described on its Web site as "an educational program targeted at high school football players from economically disadvantaged environments where family and community support are often lacking." The program features an academic coach that works with student-athletes to help them achieve their goals on and off the field. Valdez's academic coach at William Penn is John Moroney.

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