Army linebacker Andrew Rodriguez won the James E. Sullivan Award, given by the Amateur Athletic Union to the top amateur athlete in the United States.
The award was presented Tuesday night during a ceremony at the New York Athletic Club.
”This award is a tribute to all the people who have helped me throughout my life, especially my family,” Rodriguez said. ”I had the opportunity to play for all the servicemen and servicewomen who watched us every week. That’s who my teammates and I played for, and this award goes out to them.”
Rodriguez is the sixth football player to win the award, and third from Army, joining Doc Blanchard (1945) and Arnold Tucker (1946).
The other football players to win the Sullivan Award were Charlie Ward in 1993 with Florida State, Peyton Manning in 1997 with Tennessee and Tim Tebow in 2007 with Florida. Rodriguez joins Manning and Tebow as the only winners of both the Sullivan and the National Football Foundation’s Campbell Trophy, which is presented to the nation’s top football scholar-athlete.
Rodriguez has a 4.14 GPA as a mechanical engineering major, and is ranked third academically in a class of 1,052 cadets. After missing the 2010 season because of a back injury, he had 59 tackles and an interception in 12 games in 2011.
The other five finalists were shot putter Jillian Camarena-Williams, volleyball player Alex Jupiter, rower Jason Read, speedskater Katherine Reutter and gymnast Jordyn Weiber.
Other recent Sullivan winners include wrestler Rulan Gardner in 2000, figure skaters Michelle Kwan (2001), Sarah Hughes (2002) and Evan Lysacek (2010) and swimmer Michael Phelps in 2003.