Collett named finalist for prestigious student-athlete award; fan vote will determine winner

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T.J. COLLETT (Photo by Elliott Hess | UK Athletics)

LEXINGTON, Ky.  Kentucky senior first baseman T.J. Collett has been named one of 10 finalists for the 2021 Senior CLASS Award for baseball, it was announced Monday. The award honors seniors who excel both on and off the field of play.

Collett, a Terre Haute, has exemplified Kentucky baseball’s core values of being a student, person and player through his talent on the field and commitment to the betterment of others off it, according to his coach

“T.J. has been an indispensable member of our program from the moment he stepped foot on campus, as much because of who he is off the field as his talent on it,” UK coach Nick Mingione said. “He has been a tremendous teammate, an exceptional student and displayed a relentless servant’s heart in his work in the community. He is all that’s right with college athletics.”

To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition.

The 10 finalists have been placed on ballots that will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select one candidate who best exemplifies excellence in the four C’s of community, classroom, character and competition.

An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. 

Collett already has 15 home runs this season and his 41 career blasts make him the Southeastern Conference’s active leader and fourth among all Division I players. He recently passes 2014 Golden Spikes Award winner and fellow Terre Haute native AJ Reed for second on UK’s career list.

The 6-foot-1, 220-pounder is a three-time National and Southeastern Conference Player of the Week who has hit .279 with 67 extra-base hits, 144 RBI and a .554 slugging percentage in 162 career games. He also ranks in UK’s top 10 for career RBI and is nearing the top 10 for hit by pitch.

Collett’s off-field accomplishments include being named the athletic department’s Mr. Wildcat and being inducted into the prestigious Frank G. Ham Society of Character for his work in the community. He is a 2020 SEC Brad Davis Community Service Award recipient and a two-time member of the SEC Community Service Team who has been instrumental in UK baseball’s community outreach and service initiatives.

He is heavily involved with the NEGU/Jessie Rees Foundation, whose mission is connecting with families of young cancer patients, bringing awareness to their stories, offering them a network of helpful resources and sending the entire family encouragement throughout their journey.  NEGU, which stands for Never Ever Give Up, has worked with Collett on bringing children and their families to UK home baseball games to experience pregame activities on the field and in the dugout, as well as be announced during the game.

As part of his work with NEGU, Collett has spearheaded an effort where members of the UK baseball team delivery Joy Jars to young cancer patients. The jars are stuffed with toys, games, and other things to brighten patients’ days while fighting the disease.  

The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2021 College World Series® in June. Fans are encouraged to vote for their choice on www.seniorCLASSaward.com as well.

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