LAS VEGAS, NV - Mississippi State University nominated Bulldog senior quarterback Tyson Lee for the THIRD ANNUAL COLLEGE FOOTBALL RUDY AWARDS™, it was announced by The Rudy Foundation charitable organization.
Forty-nine of the 120 Division I FBS football programs and all Division I FBS Conferences were represented in the nominations for the Award, which honors 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.
Three RUDY AWARDS™ finalists will be chosen by the Selection Committee, as well as through fan voting, and honored at a breakfast to be held in conjunction with the American Football Coaches Convention on January 11, 2010, at the Orlando World Center Marriott, in Orlando, FL. Rudy Ruettiger will personally present the awards.
Each finalist will be presented with a classic finalist award and have an academic scholarship made in his name to the general scholarship fund of his college or university, as well as have travel expenses paid to the event. An overall winner will be chosen and presented with the top scholarship and bronze RUDY AWARD trophy.
Fans can review nominations and place their votes from December 4-15 for the most deserving player at www.CollegeRudyAwards/NomineeSearch.aspx.
Tyson Lee, it was stated in the school's nomination materials, was not recruited following a standout high school career at nearby Columbus High School. After a two-year career at junior college, he still received no scholarship offers. He walked on at Mississippi State and became the team's starting quarterback in week five of the 2008 season. After earning that opportunity, Lee has started the next 20 games for Mississippi State. He already reached the school's Top 10 list in career attempts, completions, interception percentage, passing efficiency and passing yards. He's also the Bulldog record holder in completion percentage.
Lee is a true team leader. Both on the field and in the classroom, he does everything the right way, trying to make the most of his life and career. He has dedicated himself to being the best person he can be, speaks regularly to student groups, local churches and schools. He has aspirations of beginning a career as a biology teacher.
"We established this award as a special way to honor and recognize college football players for the size of their hearts instead of the enormity of their stats," said Rudy Ruettiger. "Our first two years in Anaheim and Nashville were tremendous successes and we are excited to continue to build the RUDY AWARDS™ into one of the top collegiate honors. The fact that we again had more than 40% of the Division I football programs submitting nominations, with every conference represented, speaks volumes about the importance of CHARACTER, COURAGE, CONTRIBUTION and COMMITMENT in sports and in our society."
The 2009 Award Selection Committee includes football coaches Barry Alvarez, David Bailiff, Gary Barnett, Fisher DeBerry, Dennis Franchione, June Jones, Chuck Knox, Gary Patterson, Buddy Pough, Jackie Sherrill and Dick Tomey, as well as former Washington Redskins Quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams and NFL Hall of Fame member Eric Dickerson. Prominent businessman Peter Murphy, Jr., again will serve as Chairman. Fan votes for the RUDY AWARDS™ also will contribute to the Selection Process.
Finalists will be announced December 16 and listed on www.CollegeRudyAwards.com.
Terry Clayton, then a senior linebacker at the University of Kentucky, who, despite losing his hearing at the age of five, persevered as a walk-on for the Kentucky football team for five seasons and twice was named to the Southeast Conference Academic Honor Roll was the recipient of the 2007 INAUGURAL COLLEGE FOOTBALL RUDY AWARD.
Drew Combs, then a senior kickoff specialist for Texas Christian University, who, despite being born with a left arm that ends at his elbow, made the TCU football team as a walk on and became a key weapon on special teams, was the recipient of the 2008 COLLEGE FOOTBALL RUDY AWARD.