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.”