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 Foundation. -- 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