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NAU Athletics May Student-Athlete Spotlight

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Patrick Baldenegro of the football team and Taylor Stephens of the volleyball team are featured in Lumberjack Academics' monthly student-athlete spotlight for the month of May.

Baldenegro is a freshman from Chandler, Ariz. and is an undeclared major. In the fall as a true freshman, Baldenegro appeared in 11 games and recorded seven catches for a total of 89 yards. In NAU's dramatic comeback victory at Sacramento State, Baldenegro caught a season-best three passes for 40 yards and he would later score his first career touchdown against Cal Poly. He handled the transition to college in the classroom superbly, as he posted a perfect 4.0 GPA in his first semester. He was named to the AD Honor Roll and Dean's List and received a Big Sky All-Academic award in the fall. This spring, he was one of the football team's 48 Golden Eagle Scholar-Athlete Award recipients and he has completed 12 hours of community service, volunteering for the Lumberjack Athletic Association's Phone Campaign, Welcome Back Jacks, Red Ribbon Week, MLK march and donating toiletries to men's shelter while also serving on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

"Patrick is an outstanding example of a student-athlete here at Northern Arizona University," said Craig Knoth, NAU football's tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator. "Patrick in his first semester of college was at his best. He achieved a 4.0 GPA in the classroom, represented the football team on SAAC and contributed on the field as a true freshman. Patrick has been honored as our Offensive Newcomer of the Year at our 2013 Football Team Banquet and will be honored as a Golden Eagle recipient this spring. Patrick has a bright future ahead of him in both his academic and athletic endeavors here at NAU."

"Patrick has been a tremendous addition to the SAAC team this past year," added Pam Lowie, Assistant AD for Academics. "As a freshman, he has embraced this leadership role and is an asset to this active group. Patrick is a great representative of the NAU Football program and I look forward to working with him for the next three years."

Stephens is a junior from Phoenix, Ariz. and is majoring in biomedical science with a minor in chemistry. In her first season as a full-time starter, Stephens was one of the Big Sky's top middle blockers, as she ranked fifth in the conference with a team-best 1.19 blocks per set, the eighth-best single season block average in program history. Stephens also led the team and ranked fifth in the Big Sky with a .299 hitting percentage, hitting .300 or better in 15 matches. She averaged 1.70 kills per set and 0.73 digs per set as NAU's most effective hitter and all-around contributors. With a cumulative GPA of 3.8, Stephens is a three-time Golden Eagle Scholar-Athlete award recipient and she picked up her second Big Sky All-Academic award in the fall. She's a Dean's List student and has completed 12.5 hours of community service, volunteering with Welcome Back Jacks, Red Ribbon Week, MLK march and Field Day.

"Taylor impresses me every day with her dedication to academic and athletic success," said head volleyball coach Ken Murphy. "In both of these areas she has an organized plan. She works hard and never takes her numerous talents for granted. She is a great representative of our program and NAU."

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