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2007 Awards
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2007 Award Recipient

Terry Clayton
University of Kentucky
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 made the University of Kentucky Wildcats football team as a walk-on in each of his five seasons. 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 College Football 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."

2007 Finalists

Keegan Herring - Arizona State University
Herring, was a junior from Peoria, Arizona the year he was nominated for The Rudy Award. He had 2,235 career yards, good for 10th-most in school history. Herring, however, played that year with a heavy heart as his father, best friend, sister and aunt all passed away prior to the season. Despite this, he had a standout season on the gridiron when he stepped in for injured starter Ryan Torain, thus becoming the team's leading rusher. That year, Arizona State finished with a record of 10-2, earning a No. 11 ranking in the BCS standings and a trip to the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl.

One of Herring's greatest prides, however, is his work with children. "Keegan has spoken to middle school students about overcoming challenges, the importance of having confidence, and not letting learning disabilities hold oneself back from doing well in school," said Sun Devils Head Football Coach Dennis Erickson, who nominated Herring for The Rudy Award. "He also has volunteered time at elementary schools, signing autographs, reading to the kids and speaking to them about the importance of staying in school." Among his individual achievements, Herring received honorable mention Freshman All-American honors in 2005 and was named to the All-Pac-10 Freshman team by The Sporting News. He also won the Whizzer White Player of the Year honors in Arizona as a high school junior in 2003.

Robenson Jean - University of Central Florida
Born in Haiti, Robinson Jean moved to the United States with his mother at age nine. It was not until this point that they finally were reunited with Robinson’s father, who had come to this country years earlier to build a better life for his family. Jean became a standout linebacker in high school in at Delray Beach, FL, gaining scholarship interest for his abilities on the field from several schools, including West Virginia. Academic struggles, however, ultimately left Jean ineligible to accept college scholarships. He refused to give up on his dream of playing college ball, signing up for the National Guard and enrolling at Valencia Community College in 2001. Following the events of 9/11, his “weekend warrior” program soon became a much more time-consuming commitment, and in 2003 Jean was assigned to active duty in Iraq. Jean’s National Guard unit, the First Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment, was one of the first infantry units to land in Baghdad. What began as a six-month tour of duty was extended four times, before Jean returned home in February 2004.

Returning stateside, Jean enrolled at the University of Central Florida in the fall of 2004 and made the football team as a walk-on in 2006. In 2007 he saw playing time on the kickoff team. Jean was the first in his family to serve in the military, the first to go to college and to play collegiate football. Jean graduated from University of Central Florida earning a degree in Business Management.

Joey Stutson - Louisiana State University
Joey Stutson enlisted in the National Guard during his junior year of high school in Mandeville, LA, to help pay for college. As a high school standout, he received multiple offers to try out for college football teams but turned them down to follow his dream of attending Louisiana State University. Just four weeks into his first semester at LSU in 2004, Stutson’s unit was called to active duty in Baghdad, Iraq. While in Iraq, the unit often came under heavy fire as it patrolled the streets in search of weapons, drugs and bombs. After serving overseas for a year, it was the hard fought lessons of war that persuaded Stutson to continue to follow his dream of playing football for LSU.

Upon returning home, Stutson sent his high school highlight tape to LSU but a year went by without any response. His time in Iraq having taught him to waste no time in life, Stutson married his high school sweetheart and took a job at a program helping at-risk kids. Four months after the birth of their first-born baby daughter, he received a call from the LSU Athletic Department inviting him to play football.

Assuming that with a wife and child his football days were behind him, Stutson was humbled by the tremendous support of his family and friends, who rallied behind them and encouraged Stutson to follow his dream. At the start of spring practice, Stutson’s teammates, knowing he was a war veteran, quickly nicknamed him “Sarge.” After facing yet more adversity in the form of a shoulder injury, he fully recovered and was thankful simply for the opportunity to play the sport he loves.

Click Here for Photos from the 2007 Awards Ceremony

All 2007 Nominees

Keegan Herring Arizona State University Dennis Erickson
Frank Duong Purdue University Joe Tiller
Garth Hartung Bowling Green State University Greg Brandon
Clay Stephens Western Kentucky University David Elson
Jake Kasser University of Memphis Tommy West
Anthony Gebhart Western Michigan University Bill Cubit
Kurtis Von Bargen East Carolina University Skip Holtz
Jordan Kay University of California Jeff Tedford
John Sullivan University of New Mexico Rocky Long
Todd Koenig Ohio University Frank Solich
David Giesen San Jose State University Dick Tomey
Michael Hancock Florida Atlantic University Howard Schellenberger
Luke Swan University of Wisconsin Bret Bielema
Ia Falo Boise State University Chris Peterson
Greg Hiett University of Texas El Paso Mike Price
Matthew Goldberg University of Maryland Ralph Friedgen
Robenson Jean University of Central Florida George O'Leary
Joey Stutson Louisiana State University Les Miles
Tyler Johnson University of Minnesota Tim Brewster
Alex Derenthal Temple University Al Golden
Jon Cooper University of Virginia Al Groh
Kevin Tuminello Georgia Institute of Technology Chan Gailey
Chase McBride University of Colorado Dan Hawkins
Spencer Larson University of Arizona Mike Stoops
Alex Detwiler University of Tulsa Todd Graham
Terry Clayton University of Kentucky Rich Brooks