Commentary

No hurdle too big for these players

Updated: January 20, 2010, 10:55 AM ET
By Mike Loveday | ESPN RISE

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.

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.

Jon Dierkes, Central (Breese, Ill.)
Why he is a candidate: Dierkes was a position player for three seasons at Central high school, but during Week 6 of his junior year he suffered a concussion. He received another concussion in Week 7. The concussions were not the results of big hits, but rather Dierkes' head hitting the ground. A visit to the doctors revealed the Dierkes has Arnold-Chiari Malformation, a condition in which his skull does not cover as much of his lower brain as normal skulls. His football career thought over, Dierkes was offered a position as a student-assistant coach, but he had other ideas for his head coach, Brian Short. Dierkes learned how to kick and became the teams place kicker for his senior season, converting 12-of-20 field goals on the season.

Vote for Jon here

Steven Barber, Dakota Ridge (Littleton, Colo.)
Why he is a candidate: Football is a physically and emotionally demanding sport and for Barber a bit more challenging without the use of his hearing. Born deaf, the 6-foot, 215-pound Barber has been a three-year starter for the Eagles defensive line. A volunteer in the community and for his church, Barber has never let his disability hinder his athletic ability.

Vote for Steven here

Jonathan Blevins, South Pittsburg (Tenn.)
Why he is a candidate: Blevins spent many nights staring at the football field at South Pittsburg high school. But unlike the fans who came on Friday nights to watch the game, Blevins spent his share of evenings sleeping in the Press Box to avoid staying with a drug-addicted mother. The 5-foot-8 185-pound Blevins suffered through a rough childhood trying to help his mother through her addiction, but it was not until Rance Castle took him in that his life began to turn around. Now a starter on the defensive line, Blevins has persevered through a life that would have turned many down a darker path.

Vote for Jonathan here

Mike Loveday is the Contact Sports Editor for ESPN RISE and can be reached via e-mail at Michael.Loveday@espn.com