Commentary

There is no quit in these players

Updated: January 29, 2010, 10:15 AM ET
By Jon Mahoney | 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.

Bill Marnich, Ringgold (Monongahela, Pa.)
Why he is a candidate: It takes a certain level of toughness to play on the offensive line. Now try doing so with a prosthetic leg. Welcome to Marnich's world. Yet Marnich has not only played but excelled in the trenches for Ringgold. Marnich was born with a defect in his left leg that prevented the bones below his leg from growing correctly. The senior, who uses a below-the-knee prosthetic, was a two-year starter at Ringgold.

Vote for Marnich here

Kyle Merrill, Cathedral (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Why he is a candidate: In December of 2006, Merrill was heading home from celebrating his birthday when tragedy struck as the car he was riding in was involved in an accident. Merrill's older brother and two friends were killed in the crash, while Merrill and another passenger survived. Merrill was a freshman at the time and has since used the passing of his brother and friends as motivation. He's also inspired his teammates and classmates on and off the field.

Vote for Merrill here

Anthony Pagano, Valley Regional (Deep River, Conn.)
Why he is a candidate: A senior, Pagano provided a great example with his work ethic in his four years as a backup quarterback at Valley Regional. Pagano was diagnosed with Chron's Disease in 2008 but it didn't stop him from pushing for a starting spot on the team. Though he wasn't able to earn that spot, he still made his mark by pushing through every practice despite his weakened condition. And the only times he missed practices was because he was getting treatment for his disease. Truly a leader by example.

Vote for Pagano here

Jon Mahoney is a football and baseball editor for ESPNHS. Email him at jon.mahoney@espn.com.