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Tony and Kelly Trent

Tony and Kelly Trent, the parents of Tyler Trent, speak before the 2023 Tyler Trent Golf Outing.

Joe Tiller

Chapter History


For the past 18 years, football fans of Purdue University and Northwest Indiana have been channeling some of their enthusiasm and support for amateur football through the National Football Foundation’s chapter based in West Lafayette.

In the 18 years since receiving its charter, the Northwest Indiana Chapter (which became the Joe Tiller Chapter of Northwest Indiana in 2007) has enlisted more than 850 members, becoming the largest chapter in the state and, at one point, was second largest in the nation.

The chapter typically plans several annual events in the area – highlighted by its marquee event, the Honors Dinner/Brunch “Celebrating Our Legends” each spring. Drew Brees, one of Tiller’s first recruits who led Purdue to the Rose Bowl in 2001 and a Hall of Fame quarterback with the New Orleans Saints, has been a guest speaker and presenter at several of the 17 dinners. At that event, the chapter recognizes individuals from the region for various awards and accomplishments, including the announcement of the chapter’s Scholar Athlete of the Year Award. As a non-profit organization, this chapter has awarded approximately $334,000 in grants, scholarships, honorariums and donations since receiving its charter in 2004.

This chapter offers scholarship opportunities for scholar athletes after graduation from 70 high schools in 17 Northwest Indiana counties (ranging from Tippecanoe to Lake counties). Selection of the Scholar Athlete of the Year is based 40% on academic achievement, 40% football performance and attitude, and 20% leadership and citizenship. In addition to seeking donations and sponsorships to support the scholarship program, the chapter also receives money ($500 for every 50 dues-paying members in the local chapter) from the national office in Irving, Tex. In its first 18 years, this chapter has recognized 433 scholar athletes, awarding scholarships or stipends to many of them for their second semester of college.

Each dues-paying member receives a ballot in the selection process for the College Football Hall of Fame, a feature that helped elect former Purdue All-Americans Mike Phipps, Mark Herrmann, Otis Armstrong, Dave Butz and Rod Woodson to the Hall in 2006, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016, respectively. “One of the most important goals of the chapter is to help provide support for former players and coaches who deserve induction into the College Hall of Fame,” says Alan Karpick, the chapter president and a former Purdue player.

Also, this chapter has been very helpful in getting Armstrong, Butz and Woodson along with  Joe Tiller, Mike Alstott, Leroy Keyes, Pete Quinn, Jim Young, Bernie Flowers, Len Dawson, Dale Samuels, Dustin Keller, Jim Everett and several area high school coaches inducted into the Indiana FB Hall of Fame since 2012.

In addition to the scholarships, the local chapter has been involved in support of various youth programs and charities in the area and provides financial assistance for the Indiana Football Hall of Fame and the John Purdue Club’s 12th Boiler Scholarship Program.  

The tax-deductible membership dues are now $60 per year or $150 for three years, payable to the National Football Foundation. The NFF has 120 chapters in 47 states and more than 10,000 members, nationally, and awards more than $1.3 million in scholarships per year while also administering the College Football Hall of Fame. For more information, contact Jim Vruggink (email:; phone: 765-427-3303; or mail: 3672 Farnsworth Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47906/

(Left to right) Taylor Stubblefield, Doug Downing, Clayton Richard and Dan Brandenburg are inducted into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame at the National Football Foundation’s Joe Tiller Chapter Honors Brunch, Sunday, Jun. 9, 2024 in West Lafayette, Ind.

(Left to right) Taylor Stubblefield, Doug Downing, Clayton Richard and Dan Brandenburg are inducted into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame at the National Football Foundation’s Joe Tiller Chapter Honors Brunch, Sunday, Jun. 9, 2024 in West Lafayette, Ind.



             The most successful season in Purdue men’s basketball history will be celebrated on June 9 as part of the NFF Honors Brunch “Celebrating Our Legends XX,” sponsored by the National Football Foundation’s Joe Tiller Chapter of Northwest Indiana. It will be held at the Purdue Memorial Union Ballrooms in West Lafayette.

            Four of the men most prominent in the success of Boilermaker basketball will receive awards – Head Coach Matt Painter and former Coach Gene Keady will receive the organization’s highest honor, the Gold Medallion Award, while point guard Braden Smith and center Zach Edey will receive the Purdue For Life Impact Award. Coach Keady will also receive the Leroy Keyes Legends Award.

            Also featured at the Honors Brunch will be induction ceremonies for the Indiana Football Hall of Fame. This year’s inductees are Dan Brandenburg (Rensselaer H.S./ Indiana State University); Doug Downing (Lafayette Jefferson H.S./Purdue University); Clayton Richard (McCutcheon H.S./U. of Michigan) and Taylor Stubblefield (Tacoma, Wash., H.S./Purdue).

But, the June 9 event will focus on 16 NFF scholar-athletes who were nominated by their schools throughout Northern Indiana for the annual Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award and 27 Lafayette Journal & Courier student-athletes nominated by high school athletics directors in the J&C coverage area. Also being honored are 19 J&C sport-by-sport players of the year selected by the J&C sports staff and several Indiana Football Coaches Association North All-Star nominees from Regions 1 and 4. Personalized certificates will be presented to each of these prep athletes who attends the Honors Brunch.

Along with the awards and recognition for the high school athletes, the Tiller Chapter will present five other awards, nominated and selected by chapter members and various entities, to recognize outstanding accomplishments in our communities. Some of these presentations will occur June 9 while others may take place at the NFF’s Honors Reception in conjunction with the Tyler Trent Golf Outing, Sept. 13.

The entire list of awards are as follows:

  • J&C Female & Male Student-Athletes of the Year – To Be Announced
  • NFF Chapter Scholar-Athlete of the Year – To Be Announced
  • Gold Medallion Award – Matt Painter & Gene Keady
  • Leroy Keyes Legends Award – Gene Keady
  • Purdue For Life Impact Award – Zach Edey & Braden Smith
  • Todd Clark Outstanding Game Official Award – Don Rusk
  • Bernie Flowers Contribution to Amateur Sports Award – Sheila Klinker
  • Drew Brees Mental Toughness Award – Zach Edey (selected in 2023)
  • Patrick Mackey Courage Award – Connor Benson
  • Tyler Trent Courage and Resilience Award – Andrew Kinder
  • Indiana Football Hall of Fame Inductee – Dan Brandenburg (June)
  • Indiana Football Hall of Fame Inductee – Doug Downing (June)
  • Indiana Football Hall of Fame Inductee – Clayton Richard (June)
  • Indiana Football Hall of Fame Inductee – Taylor Stubblefield (June)
  • Indiana Football Hall of Fame Inductee – Drew Brees (fall or 2025)
  • Indiana Football Hall of Fame Inductee – David Haugh (June 2025)
  • Indiana Football Hall of Fame Inductee – Josh Smith (June 2025)
  • Indiana Football Hall of Fame Inductee – Jim Vruggink (June 2025)
  • Indiana Football Hall of Fame Inductee – Josh Whitman (June 2025)
  • Indiana Football Hall of Fame Inductee – John Scheumann (TBD - posthumously)

Primary goal of these events is to provide recognition for scholar-athletes and community members who support them and to raise funds for charities. And, fund-raising is an ongoing project. The NFF Honors Reception on Sept. 12 or 13 at a location yet to be determined will raise funds for scholarships while the Tyler Trent Golf Outing on Sept. 13 at Coyote Crossing Golf Club near West Lafayette raises funds for the Purdue Institute for Cancer Research. Other events are still being considered. 

The NFF scholar-athletes’ names and high schools, as nominated by their schools, are: Koby Bahler (Tri-County), Scott Ballentine (Andrean), Connor Benson (North Judson-San Pierre), Gabriel Brandenburg (Lafayette Jefferson), Eli Deardorff (Kankakee Valley), Pete Duvall (Caston), Graham Drone (Rensselaer Central), Ty Fagan (Oak Hill), Isaac Gayler (Fountain Central), H.J. Hillis (Lewis Cass), Isaac Ireland (North Miami), Cooper Kitchel (West Lafayette), Nick Page (Lafayette Central Catholic), Ethan Popp (Harrison), Owen Smith (McCutcheon) and Jake Tippmann (Fort Wayne Snider)

The Journal & Courier Female Nominees for Student-Athlete of the Year are: Ava Adriano (Lafayette Jeff), Annabel Anderson (North Montgomery), Hadessah Austin (Seeger), Jasmine Durando (Tri-County), Sienna Foster (Benton Central), Adyson Goodwin (Attica), Alli Harness (Carroll), Cortney Huffman (Rossville), Kacey Kirkpatrick (Fountain Central), Lexi Miller (Delphi), Olivia Nickerson (Twin Lakes), Mary Rice (Fountain Central), Allie Shondell (McCutcheon), Adrianne Tolen (West Lafayette), Riley Whitlock (Harrison) and Summer Wynn (North Newton).  

The Journal & Courier Male Nominees for Student-Athlete of the Year are:

Cole Chicoine (McCutcheon), Tyson Fuller (Crawfordsville), Evan Gagnon (North Newton), Cooper Kitchel (West Lafayette), James Lathrop (Attica), Spencer Leman (West Central), Jamison Ousley (Twin Lakes), Ethan Popp (Harrison), Charlie Thompson (Rossville), Joe Widmer (Benton Central) and Eric Zarse (Tri-County).

The Journal & Courier Players of the Year are: Kylie Dugan (Harrison/softball ’23), Sienna Foster (Benton Central/volleyball), Evan Gagnon (North Newton/basketball), Lillie Graves (McCutcheon/basketball), Gavin Halsema (Harrison/football defense), Alli Harness (Carroll/basketball), Rose Kaplan (West Lafayette/wrestling state champ), Malachi King (Harrison/basketball), Matthew Klinge (Harrison/swimming state champ), Carter Knoy (Harrison/football offense), Anna Lasater (West Lafayette/soccer), Chase Long (Delphi/baseball ’23), Logan Marsell (McCutcheon, baseball ’23), Lexi Miller (Delphi/softball ’23), Nick Page (Lafayette Central Catholic/football defense), Joey Scheumann (Harrison/soccer), Emma Segal (Frontier/volleyball), Noah Weaver (Rossville/wrestling state champ) and Wyatt Woodall (Southmont/football offense).  

All 62 students who were selected as all-stars for the North team – some of them invited to this event for other awards and honors – are invited to the Honors Brunch and will receive certificates, if they attend. That entire list can be found at

            It is still unknown (as of our printing deadline) when Drew Brees, former Purdue and NFL star, will be able to attend an NFF event to receive his awards. He has been invited to the 2024 events to pick up the award he was selected to receive in 2020 but has been unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts.  

            This year’s community honorees include Sheila Klinker, long-time member of the State of Indiana House of Representatives, being recognized for her ever-present support of athletic and community events in the Lafayette area. The chapter will also honor Don Rusk for his game officiating and Gene Keady for his loyalty to Purdue.

            Athlete-oriented awards this year will go to Zach Edey and Braden Smith for their lethal impact in the “two-man” game that propelled Purdue basketball to a 34-5 record (best in school history) and to the NCAA Championship Game, Edey for his mental toughness and excellence in Purdue basketball and high school athlete Connor Benson of North Judson-San Pierre for overcoming ongoing health issues. 

            Also, Andrew Kinder will be recognized as the latest recipient of the Tyler Trent Courage & Resilience Award, an honor he was given last year but was unable to attend either the Honors Brunch or the Honors Reception due to health issues.

            The four IFCA Hall of Fame selectees who will be inducted on June 9 have come to this distinction in different ways.

Dan Brandenburg was nominated by his high school, Rensselaer Central, and Coach Chris Meeks to recognize his outstanding All-State prep career followed by All-American performances as a defensive end at Indiana State University and a four-year stint with the NFL Buffalo Bills, appearing in 42 games.  After a brief stint of high school coaching in California, he now lives in Melbourne, Fla., and trains college football players for the NFL Combine and Draft.

            Doug Downing was nominated by his high school, Lafayette Jeff, and Coach Pat Shanley in recognition of Doug’s outstanding career in Tippecanoe County as a Parade All-American quarterback at Jeff and a starting QB at Purdue. He went on to have a 24-year career as an assistant coach at multiple division 1 collegiate programs, coaching many future NFL players. More recently, he has settled into coaching high school football and track while living in Sylvania, Ohio.

            Clayton Richard was nominated by his former head coach at McCutcheon, Kevin O’Neil. Richard excelled in two sports as Mr. Football and Mr. Baseball while at McCutcheon, maintained a 4.0 grade point average and was a highly-recruited football and baseball player at the University of Michigan before a lengthy career in Major League Baseball. Clayton returned to his hometown and is now coaching football and baseball at Lafayette Jefferson H.S.

  Taylor Stubblefield was nominated by the Tiller Chapter of NFF in recognition of his All-American career as an NCAA record-setting wide receiver at Purdue as part of Coach Joe Tiller’s “Basketball on Grass” offense. He held the NCAA record for career receptions for seven years, played briefly in the NFL and CFL and has coached at nine different universities and at two professional team. He currently coaches wide receivers at punt returners at the Air Force Academy and lives in Mountain View, Colo.

Posthumous induction for John Scheumann, a very successful builder in the Lafayette area and a major contributor to Lafayette Jeff for the building and remodeling of its football stadium, has been handled internally at Jefferson High School.

The four other names listed earlier in this story as IFCA Hall of Fame selectees will be inducted in 2025 or later.