Western Maryland defensive back Tom Lapato will be named the Division III scholar-athlete of the year by Burger King tonight at Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
Lapato, a South Carroll High product, will appear during a college football awards show, being broadcast at 8 p.m. on ESPN from Disney-MGM studios. He is a finalist for the distinction of being the top scholar-athlete for all divisions and the chance to win $100,000 for the school.
"It's nice," said Lapato, who will rub shoulders with the likes of Ricky Williams, Cade McNown, and Dat Nguyen. "It's a great honor to be recognized for something you worked hard for. It's a chance to meet some of these athletes who are seen as the elite in the sport."
"This is the type of guy you'd like to lead the country," Green Terror coach Tim Keating said of Lapato, a senior who also earned first-team academic all-America honors from GTE. "All that he's achieved comes without any fanfare generated by him. That's how Tom's been since I've known him. The scoreboard has done the talking."
A math major and art history minor with a 4.0 grade-point average, Lapato was assigned to work on computer projects for NASA last summer while interning in Linthicum for aviation and ++ defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp.
Then, he served as captain for the second straight season on a team that won 20 consecutive regular-season games. As part of a unit that ranked seventh nationally in scoring defense (10.1 ppg), Lapato intercepted six passes from the strong safety position, earning first-team all-Centennial Conference honors.
Pub Date: 12/10/98