HENDERSON, NV (December 21, 2007) – Four finalists for the INAUGURAL RUDY AWARD (www.RudyAwards.com) were announced today by The Rudy Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. The Award honors NCAA Division I student-athletes who demonstrate exemplary CHARACTER, COURAGE, CONTRIBUTION and COMMITMENT as members of their collegiate football teams. These same traits were immortalized in the blockbuster film “RUDY” in 27 seconds and against all odds on a gridiron in South Bend, Indiana, enabling Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger to carve his name into college football lore.
Due to a selection committee voting tie, four RUDY AWARD finalists (one more than previously announced) will be honored at a breakfast to be held during the American Football Coaches Association Convention on
January 8, 2008, from 8:30 - 10:30 A.M., at the Hilton Suites in Anaheim, CA.
The four finalists were chosen from an impressive field of 26 total nominees. The finalists, listed alphabetically, are: Terry Clayton (University of Kentucky), Keegan Herring (Arizona State University), Robinson Jean (University of Central Florida) and Joey Stutson (Louisiana State University).
Each finalist will be presented with a framed commemorative plaque and an academic scholarship, as well as have their travel expenses paid to the event. An overall winner will be announced and presented with the top scholarship of $5,000, as well as a handsome RUDY AWARD bronze statue. The three runners-up each will receive a $2,500 scholarship.
“This award is truly unique, and one we hope will soon rank among the nation’s top collegiate honors,” said Rudy Ruettiger. “We will recognize players for the size of their hearts, instead of the enormity of their stats. Our four inaugural finalists certainly fit this criteria, demonstrating extraordinary character, courage, contribution and commitment as members of their teams.”
The RUDY AWARD Selection Committee is comprised of football coaches Fisher DeBerry, Dennis Franchione, June Jones, Chuck Knox, Gary Patterson, Buddy Pough, Dick Tomey and prominent businessman Peter Murphy, Jr., who serves as chairman. Aaron Taylor, former NFL player and broadcaster, will serve as Master of Ceremonies for the program.
Division I collegiate players of any age or year in school were eligible for nomination, provided they were members of the 2007-08 football team. For any finalists presently receiving a full scholarship, the award will be made in the player’s name to the general scholarship fund of the college or university.
About the Finalists
Terry Clayton, senior linebacker, University of Kentucky:
Terry Clayton went deaf at the age of five as the result of a high fever from a severe case of chicken pox. Despite the limitation, he became an All-State player in high school out of Olmstead, KY, and has made the University of Kentucky Wildcats football team as a walk-on in each of the past five seasons. Clayton provides depth at linebacker and consistently contends for playing time on special teams. An outstanding weight lifter, he is one of the strongest players on the team.
“Terry has shown great perseverance in his life,” said Kentucky Head Football Coach Rich Brooks, who nominated Clayton for the RUDY AWARD. “He is an award-winning student and has not let his physical challenges stop him from becoming a college football player. He gives you everything he has and takes great pride in everything he does.”
Clayton has twice been selected for the Southeast Conference Honor Roll and was the recipient of the Carol S. Adelstein Outstanding Student Athlete Award for overcoming disabilities. In 2006 he returned to the Kentucky School for the Deaf, which he attended as a child, for a program to encourage the students to succeed.
“Never once has Terry ever used his disability as an excuse not to do something,” said Kentucky Linebackers Coach Chuck Smith. “That shows great character.”