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Press Release

Media Contact: Burt Trembly
The Rudy Foundation
(505) 328-2288
Burt@CoachingCharities.com

ALEX HENERY (UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA), MARK HERZLICH (BOSTON COLLEGE) AND MICHAEL LEMON (NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY) NAMED AS FINALISTS FOR FOURTH ANNUAL COLLEGE FOOTBALL RUDY AWARDS™
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More Than 825,000 Fans Vote as Part of Selection Committee


LAS VEGAS, NV (December 14, 2010)Alex Henery (University of Nebraska), Mark Herzlich (Boston College) and Michael Lemon (North Carolina State University) have been named as finalists for the FOURTH ANNUAL COLLEGE FOOTBALL RUDY AWARDS™, it was announced today by The Rudy Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

A record 55 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. More than 825,000 fans contributed online votes this year, which tallied together to count as a member of the Selection Committee.

The three finalists will be honored and the overall winner announced, during the Priority Payment Systems Awards Ceremony, to be held in conjunction with the American Football Coaches Association Convention on January 11, 2011, at the Hilton Anatole Hotel, in Dallas, TX. Sponsors for the event include Priority Payment Systems, Sprint, Peter Murphy, Frank Vite and LP Corporation. “We are proud to be associated with The College Football Rudy Awards and are excited for the three nominees to be recognized at the Priority Payment System Awards Ceremony,” said John Priore, CEO of Priority Payment Systems. “Each of the nominees has a great story and they truly embody what the Rudy Award represents.”

Rudy Ruettiger will personally present each individual with a classic finalist award and an academic scholarship will be made in his name to the general scholarship fund of his college or university. The overall winner will be presented with the bronze RUDY AWARD trophy and top scholarship. For more information, visit www.CollegeRudyAwards.com.

“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. “I am so excited to see how this award has grown into one of the top collegiate honors for kids who weren’t born with tremendous athletic talent, perhaps, but have overcome the odds and persevered because of their heart. Each one of this year’s nominees truly exemplifies CHARACTER, COURAGE, CONTRIBUTION and COMMITMENT in sports and in their respective communities.”

About the 2010 Finalists

University of Nebraska senior kicker Alex Henery is the most accurate kicker in NCAA history. He began his career as a walk-on before earning a scholarship and setting nearly every Nebraska kicking record.

Alex went from a little-known walk-on to a player who has earned the respect of everyone in the football program. He was only offered a soccer scholarship out of high school, but has turned into arguably the top kicker in college football. He is a three-time Second-Team All-Big 12 selection, two-time Lou Groza Award semi-finalist and Nebraska’s all-time leading scorer. He also won the Brook Berringer Citizenship Team award, given for community outreach.


Senior Mark Herzlich is the starting linebacker for the Boston College Eagles. After the 2008 season, in which he was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year, Mark was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma (a rare form of bone cancer). Many people thought that his career was over, but through the strength of his character, courage and commitment, he fought the disease and has returned to the field as a starter once again.

Mark’s story has become an inspiration to kids and adults across the country. Leading his team onto the football field to open the 2010 season is an enduring image of the entire college football season.


Michael Lemon is a fifth year senior who transferred to NC State from the University of Georgia by way of Georgia Military Academy (JC). He has fought through unimaginable personal tragedy to become a productive student and athlete at North Carolina State University.

At age 16 Michael lost his best friend in an automobile accident. Then, in 2007 while at the University of Georgia, Michael’s mother was killed by her boyfriend, who then burned down their home. Not only did Michael lose his mother, but he and his brother lost nearly every tangible thing that reminded them of their childhood.

NC State head football coach Tom O’Brien said some people wondered whether Lemon would be able to succeed upon arriving at the school after all he had been through. But Lemon has performed better than anybody expected in the classroom and on the field. “He’s been a joy to work with,” said O’Brien. “He’s been a joy to have around our football team.”


The Selection Process

Nominees for the FOURTH ANNUAL COLLEGE FOOTBALL RUDY AWARDS are chosen by our national selection committee consisting of such esteemed sports figures as Barry Alvarez, David Bailiff, Gary Barnett, Fisher DeBerry, Dennis Franchione, June Jones, Chuck Knox, Gary Patterson, Buddy Pough, Jackie Sherrill, Dick Tomey, Doug Williams and Peter Murphy, who serves as Chairman of the committee. Committee members are prohibited to vote for the nominee from the schools they are currently affiliated with.

The selection process also incorporates a fan vote for supporters of the College Football Rudy Awards which accounts for one vote on the selection committee. This year over 825,000 fans voted for the award.


Past Recipients

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.

LeVon Morefield, then a junior running back at the University of Akron, overcame several obstacles early in life just to reach college, including being born addicted to crack cocaine, being arrested for selling drugs and nearly dropping out of high school. While holding down three jobs, he decided to walk on to the Akron football team, eventually earning a scholarship. He was the recipient of the 2009 COLLEGE FOOTBALL RUDY AWARD.

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“You're five foot nothin', a hundred and nothin', and you have nearly a speck of athletic ability. And you hung in there with the best college football team in the land for two years. And you're getting a degree from the University of Notre Dame. In this life, you don't have to prove nothin' to nobody but yourself."

-- Fortune (as played by Charles S. Dutton) in the film "RUDY."


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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, Ross Browner, Rick Mirer and Aaron Taylor.

The son of an oil refinery worker and third of 14 children, Rudy Ruettiger rose from valleys of discouragement to the pinnacles of success. Today, he is one of the most popular motivational speakers in the U.S. It took years of fierce determination, 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 “The Rudy In You,” and has produced the Dream Power audio series. For more information visit: www.RudyAwards.com.