2007 National Sportsmanship Award Finalists Announced by Awards and Recognition Association

Top 10 List Includes Collegiate Football Standouts Who Do Good On and Off

Field By Volunteering As Tutors, Mentors and Fund Raisers

Nov 12, 2007, 00:00 ET from Awards and Recognition Association

    GLENVIEW, Ill., Nov. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- The Awards and Recognition
 Association (ARA) today revealed the 10 finalists for its annual
 sportsmanship award, given to one outstanding NCAA Division I collegiate
 football player who best personifies the spirit of sportsmanship.
     Former Brigham Young University Head Football Coach LaVell Edwards
 chairs the committee that selects college athletes who exemplify
 sportsmanship. Last year's winner, Rutgers University fullback Brian
 Leonard went on to play for the St. Louis Rams.
     The 2007 Sportsmanship Award recipient will be chosen from one of the
 ten finalists (listed below) and announced this December. Finalists
 represent a variety of schools of all sizes and locations throughout the
 United States and award criteria take into consideration the athlete's
 conduct both on and off the field.
     "ARA's Sportsmanship Award is the only national award that recognizes
 an athlete's character and leadership as it translates to sportsmanship,"
 said Ed Hunt, president of the ARA. "Our panel looks for players that stand
 out and contribute when playing and in life. It's encouraging to see so
 many of today's collegiate athletes who consistently conduct themselves in
 a highly sportsmanlike manner."
     ARA Sportsmanship finalists are chosen by a panel that includes retired
 coaches including Don Nehlen (West Virginia), Dick MacPherson (Syracuse)
 Vince Dooley (Georgia), Gene Stallings (Alabama), Tubby Raymond (Delaware),
 Spike Dykes (Texas Tech), Don James (Washington) and Ted Tollner (San Diego
 State and USC) along with sports and media professionals and
 representatives from ARA and other organizations.
     To qualify for the award, an athlete must be a starting player or
 significant contributor on his team, be a senior in good academic standing,
 demonstrate great respect for competitors, school, teammates and coaches,
 show an ability to accept victory and defeat graciously, convey a high
 degree of humility and integrity, and demonstrate commitment in the
 classroom and to the community.
     Details on the 10 finalists follow (in alphabetical order):
     -- Alex Brink, Washington State University, quarterback.  A native of
        Eugene, Oregon, two-time member of the All-Academic Pacific-10
        Conference First Team and honor roll student, Alex is an active
        participant in community service and a member of the WSU Reading
        Buddies program.
     -- Jordon Brown, University of Houston, wide receiver.  In addition to
        maintaining a 4.0 grade point average during football season, Brown
        leads a local chapter for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and
        dedicates his time to community outreach activities.
     -- Quentin Groves, Auburn University, defensive end.  A criminology major
        and community service volunteer for multiple reading causes, Groves was
        pursued by the NFL but chose to finish out his last year with his team.
     -- Jacob Gutierrez, University of Oklahoma, running back.  A San Antonio
        native and sociology major, Gutierrez organized teammates for a Habitat
        for Humanity project and has won an award from the United Way.
     -- Dionte Johnson, Ohio State University, fullback.  A native of Columbus,
        Ohio, Johnson started the licensed, non-profit organization, "Look Ma,
        No Hands," to offer scholarships and other help to middle and high
        school kids.
     -- Thomas Keith, Central Michigan University, linebacker.  A two-time
        Academic All-MAC and mathematics major, Keith volunteers with the
        American Red Cross and Michigan Special Olympics.
     -- Micah Rucker, Eastern Illinois University, wide receiver.  A transfer
        from the University of Minnesota, Rucker works with local grammar
        schools and founded the Eastern Illinois University chapter of MADD
        (Mothers Against Drunk Driving).
     -- Jarrid Smith, Florida Atlantic University, guard.  A political science
        graduate earning his second degree in Intercultural Communication,
        Smith also volunteers for the Jim Thorpe Native American All-Star Game
        and teaches football to kids through his work with the Chaka Stars
     -- Jeremy Thompson, Wake Forest University, defensive end.  A health and
        sciences major and local elementary school tutor, Thompson traveled to
        Liberia to build a school, chapel and orphanage for children during his
        off season.
     -- Robert Valletti, Iona College, left tackle.   An honors student and
        mentor with the Boys and Girls Clubs, Valletti also volunteers to build
        housing with the Foundation for Teaching Economics and as a camp
        counselor for the Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership seminars.
     All NCAA Division I schools were eligible to submit nominations for the
 ARA Sportsmanship Award. The finalists were selected in a blind process.
 For more information, go to http://www.arasportsmanshipaward.com.
     The Awards and Recognition Association is the official sponsor of the
 ARA Sportsmanship Award. ARA is a membership organization of 4,000
 companies dedicated to increasing the professionalism of recognition
 specialists and advancing the awards and engraving industry.

SOURCE Awards and Recognition Association