Anaheim, CA (January 8, 2008) – Terry Clayton, a senior linebacker at the University of Kentucky, today was named as the recipient of the INAUGURAL RUDY AWARD (www.RudyAwards.com). The announcement was made by The Rudy Foundation 501(c)(3) charitable organization at an awards breakfast held at the Hilton Suites Anaheim/Orange, in conjunction with the American Football Coaches Association Convention.
The Rudy 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.
Clayton, despite losing his hearing at the age of five, persevered as a walk-on for the Kentucky football team in each of the past five seasons and twice was named to the Southeast Conference Academic Honor Roll. As the Inaugural RUDY AWARD recipient, he was presented with a $5,000 scholarship and the handsome bronze RUDY AWARD statue.
“I am very proud to have won this award,” said Clayton on stage, through a sign language interpreter this morning, as he accepted his award. “I’d like to thank God and my family for giving me the strength to follow my dream.”
Clayton beat out three other finalists chosen by the Award’s Selection Committee from an impressive field of 26 total nominees from other Division I football programs. The three other finalists, each of whom also was honored at the Awards breakfast, were Keegan Herring (Arizona State University), Robenson Jean (University of Central Florida) and Joey Stutson (Louisiana State University). Each of the runners up was presented with a framed commemorative plaque and a $2,500 academic scholarship.
“We could not be more pleased with the response to our inaugural RUDY AWARDS,” said Rudy Ruettiger. “Terry Clayton is a very special young man and has overcome great adversity in his life. He epitomizes outstanding Character, Courage, Contribution and Commitment -- traits that are of the utmost importance in today’s society. It is our hope that this truly unique award, which recognizes players for the size of their hearts, instead of just the enormity of thei
The 2007-08 RUDY AWARD Selection Committee was 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 served as chairman. Aaron Taylor, former NFL player and broadcaster, was the event’s Master of Ceremonies for the program.
"I'm absolutely thrilled that Terry Clayton has won the inaugural Rudy Award and been recognized for overcoming his disability,” Head Coach Rich Brooks said. “Terry made great contributions to turning around our program. He is a hard worker, never late, and didn’t miss anything. He is a tremendous example of how to play the game of football. Clearly, he is one of the most respected players on our team. When our players hear this, they are going to be so excited.
“Following up with Jacob Tamme winning the Bobby Bowden Award, it’s nice to see people associated with Kentucky football get national recognition.”
About Terry Clayton
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.
In the classroom, Clayton has twice been selected for the Southeast Conference Honor Roll and was the recipient of the Carol S. Adelstein Outstanding Student 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 there to succeed and follow their dreams.
“Terry Clayton is one of the most unique and remarkable athletes I have ever coached,” said Kentucky Head Football Coach Rich Brooks, who nominated Clayton for the RUDY AWARD. “He is a tireless worker in the weight room and on the field, and ranks among our strongest players. He has never once used his disability as an excuse and never will. He wants to be treated the same as every other player and shows tremendous dedication to our team.”
About The Rudy Foundation
The Rudy Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the support and recognition of those who aspire to fulfill their dreams through character, courage, contribution and commitment. Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger and his wife Cheryl founded The Rudy Foundation in 1997. Members of the board of directors include Jerome Bettis, Aaron Taylor and Rick Mirer. Against all odds on a gridiron in South Bend, Indiana, Rudy Ruettiger in twenty seven seconds carved his name into history books as one of the most famous graduates of the University of Notre Dame.
The son of an oil refinery worker and third of 14 children, Rudy Ruettiger rose from valleys of discouragement and despair to the pinnacles of success. Today, he is one of the most popular motivational speakers in the United States. It took years of fierce determination to overcome obstacles and criticisms, yet Rudy achieved his first dream -- to attend Notre Dame and play football for the Fighting Irish. As fans cheered RU-DY, RU-DY, he sacked the quarterback in the only play in the only game of his college football career. Rudy Ruettiger remains the only player in the school's history ever to be carried off the field on his teammates' shoulders.
In 1993, TRISTAR Productions immortalized his life story with the blockbuster film, “RUDY.” Written and produced by Angelo Pizzo and David Anspaugh, the critically acclaimed movie continues to inspire millions worldwide.
In addition to his motivational speaking, Rudy Ruettiger has co-authored several books, including: “Rudy's Insights for Winning in Life,” “Rudy's Lessons for Young Champions,” and “Rudy & Friends,” and has produced the Dream Power tape series. For more information, or to make a donation visit: www.RudyAwards.com.