LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The Amateur Athletic Union announced Wednesday that Army linebacker Andrew Rodriguez is one of six finalists for the 2011 James E. Sullivan Award, which honors the nation's most outstanding amateur athlete. The honor has been presented annually since 1930, and is based on character, leadership and sportsmanship.
Army linebacker one of six candidates for AAU Sullivan Award
The finalists were selected from personal nominations following a review by the AAU Sullivan Award Executive Committee. The winner has been determined through voting by select members of the media, previous winners and AAU staff. The public was also allowed input through nationwide polling on the USA Today website. The winner will be honored at an awards ceremony on Tuesday, March 20th at the New York Athletic Club.
Rodriguez is the only football player among the group of finalists. He is the second cadet in the last three years to be a finalist for the honor, joining 2011 West Point graduate Clint Moore (2009, baseball).
The honor is the latest in a round of postseason accolades for Rodriguez. Last December, he became the first Army player to be honored with the National Football Foundation's William V. Campbell Trophy, which is awarded annually to the nation's top football scholar-athlete.
Rodriguez, chosen as one of the Black Knights' three captains by his teammates, returned to the field this past fall after missing all of 2010 with a back injury. He started 11 of the Black Knights' 12 games, and ranked fifth on the team with 59 tackles. Rodriguez accounted for a team-leading three takeaways, intercepting a pass and recovering two fumbles.
The Alexandria, Va., native was the Black Knights' leading tackler in 2009. For his career, he racked up 144 tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries in 24 games.
In the classroom, Rodriguez boasts a 4.12 grade-point average. He was a 2009 and 2011 CoSIDA Academic All-District I selection, and earned first-team Academic All-America accolades this past fall. Rodriguez has been on the West Point dean's list six times, and is ranked third in West Point's Class of 2012.
Recent winners of the AAU Sullivan Award include Rulan Gardner (wrestling) in 2000, Michelle Kwan (figure skating) in 2001, Sarah Hughes (figure skating) in 2002, Michael Phelps (swimming) in 2003, Paul Hamm (gymnastics) in 2004, J.J. Redick (men's basketball) in 2005, Jessica Long (paralympic women's swimming) in 2006, Tim Tebow (football) in 2007, Shawn Johnson (gymnastics) in 2008, Amy Palmiero-Winters (running-ultra marathon) in 2009 and Evan Lysacek (swimming) in 2010.
The other five finalists include Jillian Camarena-Williams (track & field), Alex Jupiter (volleyball), Jason Read (rowing), Katherine Reutter (speedskating) and Jordyn Weiber (gymnastics).
Former Army football greats Felix "Doc" Blanchard and Young Arnold Tucker garnered the award in consecutive years, claiming the honor in 1945 and 1946, respectively. They rank as the only two West Pointers to capture the honor.
Tuesday's awards ceremony can be seen live on the internet. The live stream will begin at 7:15 p.m., and can be viewed by clicking on the Livestream link on the AAU's Facebook page (www.facebook.com/realaau) or at www.livestream.com/therealaau.