Monday, January 25, 2010
Updated: January 27, 10:11 AM ET
There is no quit in these players
By Mike Loveday
Most sports fans have seen the movie "Rudy". The image of former Notre Dame football player, Daniel Rudy Ruettiger, has become part of American life and a larger part of football players lives.
But Rudy's contribution had very little to do with his athletic prowess, but rather how he carried himself off the field.
Rudy Awards Semifinalists
The Rudy Awards winner and two runners-up will be announced Feb. 3. Leading up to that day, ESPN RISE will profile all 30 semifinalists:
- Steven Barber, Littleton (Colo.)
- Jonathan Blevins, S. Pittsburg (Tenn.)
- Daniel Bouwman, Grantsville (Utah)
- Anthony Braham, Niagara Falls (N.Y.)
- Cody Dean, Post (Texas)
- Jon Dierkes, Breese (Ill.)
- Dakota Dir, Kingsland (Ga.)
- Justin Ray Duke, Shepherd (Texas)
- Dalton Dyer, Auburn (Calif.)
- Kei Harris, Avondale (Ariz.)
- Jeremy Hester, Panama City Beach (Fla.)
- Chris Kania, East Brunswick (N.J.)
- Bobby Keeney, Tuckerton (N.J.)
- Evan Lawson, Minot, (N.D.)
- Kurt LeBlanc, Bourg (La.)
- Calob Leindecker, Baton Rouge (La.)
- Kye Leystra, Cambria, (Wis.)
- Bill Marnich, Monongahela (Pa.)
- Kyle Merrill, Los Angeles (Calif.)
- Naji Moore-Taylor, Lynnwood (Wash.)
- Kyle Muka, Northfield, (Mass.)
- Jesse Ortiz, Peoria (Ariz.)
- Anthony Pagano, Deep River (Conn.)
- William Peters-Vili, Omaha (Neb.)
- Cody Roberts, Tekonsha (Mich.)
- Jonathan Shaw, Thorndike (Maine)
- Tory Squires, Chicago (Ill.)
- Matthew Subish, Temecula (Calif.)
- Lukas Utz, Cheney (Kan.)
- Kyle Weafer, Overland Park (Kan.)
- * Rudy Awards Voting Page
- * Rudy Awards Home Page
It is in that spirit that Trusted Sports has created the Rudy Awards to honor "inspirational football players who best define what Rudy refers to as the "The Four C's": Character, Courage, Contribution and Commitment."
The process began with more than 390 submissions from 48 states and is now down to 30 semifinalists with the winner and two runners-up being announced on Feb. 3.
The winner will receive a $10,000 scholarship and will receive the High School Football Rudy Award, which will be presented by Rudy Ruettiger.
The two Runners-up will receive a $5,000 academic scholarship and Runners-up Award and each of the thirty Semifinalists will receive a 'Rudy 45' football jersey.
Justin Duke, Shepherd (Texas)
Why he is a candidate: Duke was a quadriplegic four years ago, but this past season he was a backup defensive lineman for his high school football team. On Jan. 19, 2006, Duke dove head-first into a wall when he was trying to catch a pass in a high school basketball game. Three years later, and after much rehabilitation, Duke was cleared to begin playing sports again. The only remaining hurdle was for Duke to get clearance from the University Interscholastic League (UIL) to allow him to play since he moved in with his grandparents so he could attend Shepherd -- Duke and his parents had moved to Santa Fe so he was closer to his hospital. "The guy from the state association told me here is now way he can't approve it. He said he cried for two hours after hearing what Justin went through," Shepherd head coach Bob Jones said.
Vote for Duke here
Cody Roberts, Tekonsha (Mich.)
Why he is a candidate: "Small Man. Big Heart." That is the repeated phrase on Roberts nomination page. From the beginning, it is apparent that Roberts is not your typical teenager. Not many would ask for money for their birthdays so they can buy Christmas presents for their siblings. But Roberts is that person. Only 5-foot-8, 130-pounds, Roberts also is not your typical defensive lineman. But again, this high school senior is anything but typical. According to his head coach Joe Wright's nomination letter, Roberts receives double-teams by opposing offenses, not because of his size or strength, but because of his quickness and determination.
Vote for Roberts here
Jeremy Hester, Arnold (Panama City Beach, Fla.)
Why he is a candidate: With the NFL's New Orleans Saints in the Super Bowl, the memories of Hurricane Katrina rush back into memory. For Hester, those are not just memories seen on television, but first hand. The high school senior experienced the loss of several family members with more left homeless after the 2005 storm. Hester relocated to Panama City Beach where he has become an inspiration to teammates, teachers and students. Arnold Athletic Director, Julie Hale, nominated Hester and had this to say about him on his nomination page, "Jeremy possesses the character, commitment, heart, drive, and desire that any coach would want his player to have, any parent would want his child to have, and any employer would want his employee to have. He is the epitome of the All-American 5'8" hero who not only demonstrates that true commitment on the field, track, or in the classroom, but also within our school and community."
Vote for Hester here
Vote for Kania here