Real life ‘Rudy’s’ honored for inspiring the nation and bringing the most heart to the game

Drew Bledsoe, Chairman of the High School Football Rudy Awards selection committee today announced the top 50 national Semifinalists for the award that is fast becoming known among coaches and communities as a way to honor those players who may not have the stats, but who bring the most heart to the game. More than 12,000 high school football coaches were contacted and invited to nominate the ‘Rudy’ on their team. The winner will receive a $10,000 academic scholarship to a college of their choice. Two runners-up will each receive $5,000, in addition to a fan favorite determined by online voting.  A complete rundown of the 50 Semifinalists is available at

 Ronnie Harris of Whitehall, AR was nominated by his coach, Mike Vaughn. When he was two, Ronnie was playing with a friend who picked up a loaded hand gun and was shot in the head. After years of physical and speech therapy, not to mention learning to walk again, Ronnie asked his parents if he could play football. “This young man has fought hard and never gives up,” said Coach Vaughn. “I wish that Ronnie had been given a chance to compete athletically with the other boys on a level playing ground. With that being said, the challenges that Ronnie has overcome will, without a doubt, prepare him for this biggest game, the game of life.” 

 Founded by Trusted Sports and Daniel ‘Rudy’ Ruettiger in 2009, this national award is named for college football’s most famous underdog.  Known for being “5 foot nothing, 100 and nothin’ with barely a speck of athletic ability”, Ruettiger’s dream of playing football at the University of Notre Dame inspired millions. Likewise, the 50 Semifinalists are being honored for their courage and character, and inspirational impact on their teammates and schools.

 “I read the stories of our top 50 High School Football Rudy Award nominees and then I look back at some of the toughest games I played.  Even when I was injured, I didn’t have to deal with anything like what these kids have to handle on a daily basis. Playing in the NFL was an honor, and incredibly rewarding,” said former New England Patriots quarterback, Drew Bledsoe. “It’s also an honor to place the spotlight on these young athletes who are facing inconceivable challenges, yet who soldier on despite the hand they’ve been dealt.  Words can’t begin to describe how much respect I have for them all.”

 The 2010 Selection Committee includes notable sporting personalities such as Leigh Anne Tuohy, mother of Baltimore Ravens player Michael Oher and inspirational figure of the film The Blind Side; Shaun Alexander, former Seattle Seahawks running back and NFL MVP; and NBC Football Sideline Reporter, Andrea Kremer. America can be inspired by the player they feel is a ‘Rudy’ online at Online voting continues through December 28, 2010. Since the site’s launch in 2009, nominees have received over 3 million votes.