LAS VEGAS, NV – East Carolina senior Kurtis von Bargen is one of 53 Division I student-athletes to be nominated for the Second-Annual College Football Rudy Award, the Rudy Foundation announced Wednesday afternoon.

The award honors student-athletes who demonstrate exemplary CHARACTER, COURAGE, CONTRIBUTION and COMMITMENT as members of their collegiate football teams. These same traits were immortalized in the blockbuster film “RUDY” in 27 seconds and against all odds on a gridiron in South Bend, Indiana, enabling Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger to carve his name into college football lore.

Every Division I Conference and 53 of its 120 football programs submitted nominations for the 2008 Award, nearly double the number of applications from the inaugural year in 2007.

The Midlothian, Va. Native has registered four tackles in eight games, all as a member of the Pirates special teams unit. It was stated in the school’s nomination materials, is a passionate, disciplined football player, with a great work ethic. He always gives 110% in everything he does. Von Bargen may not carry the same physical attributes as his teammates but does not let what he can’t do get in the way for what he can do. Having this mentality has allowed him to carry out his childhood dream of playing college football.

Three RUDY AWARD finalists will be chosen by the Selection Committee and honored at a breakfast to be held in conjunction with the American Football Coaches Association Convention on January 12, 2009, at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, TN. Rudy Ruettiger will personally present the awards.

Each finalist will be presented with a beautiful award and an academic scholarship, as well as have travel expenses paid to the event. An overall winner will be chosen and presented with the top scholarship and trophy.

“We established this award as a special way to honor and recognize college football players for the size of their hearts instead of the enormity of their stats,” said Rudy Ruettiger. “It is great to see such a huge increase in the number of nominations, as we continue to build the RUDY AWARD into one of the top collegiate honors. Our society looks to athletes as role models… and I cannot think of a better role model than one who demonstrates great character, courage, contribution and commitment.”

The recipient of the 2007 INAUGURAL COLLEGE FOOTBALL RUDY AWARD was Terry Clayton, then a senior linebacker at the University of Kentucky, who, despite losing his hearing at the age of five, persevered as a walk-on for the Kentucky football team for five seasons and twice was named to the Southeast Conference Academic Honor Roll.

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The 2008 Award Selection Committee includes football coaches David Bailiff, Gary Barnett, Fisher DeBerry, Dennis Franchione, June Jones, Chuck Knox, Gary Patterson, Buddy Pough and Dick Tomey. Former Washington Redskins quarterback and Super Bowl XXII MVP Doug Williams and former Los Angeles Rams running back and Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee Eric Dickerson also join the committee for 2008. Prominent businessman Peter Murphy, Jr., will again serve as Chairman and Charlie Laverty of Oppenheimer & Co. is the Presenting Sponsor.
A full list of nominees is available at www.RudyAwards.com. Finalists will be announced on December 16. If a finalist presently is receiving a full scholarship, or graduates prior to the award presentation, the award will be made in the player’s name to the general scholarship fund of the college or university.