Ryans is also the recipient of the Coach Eddie Robinson National Scholar-Athlete Award funded by the George M. Steinbrenner Family and the New York Yankees.
A fierce tackler and dominating defensive presence, Alabama's DeMeco Ryans has helped re-launch the Crimson Tide as a national power while establishing himself as a top-flight academic scholar.
A three-time Academic All-Conference selection, Ryans is scheduled to graduate Cum Laude in only three and a half years. A two-time ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District selection, he was named the top student-athlete from the College of Commerce and Business Administration and received the Bryant Award as the athletics department's top male student-athlete. An Arthur Ashe Scholar, Ryans has earned Dean's List recognition four times.
A team leader, Ryans earned 2004 Second Team All-Conference honors. In 2003, he led the team in tackles with 126, the second highest single-season total in school history. Ryans has over 275 career tackles and is poised to become only the fifth player in school history to amass 300 in his career.
Dedicated to the community, Ryans is a frequent speaker to youth sports banquets and has been a spokesperson for the Franklin County DARE Program. A participant in area "Read Across America" programs, he volunteered at the Tuscaloosa VA Hospital United Way Kickoff Program.
Ryans was also named to the 2005 SEC Good Works Team and has twice been honored by CBS Sports as the Scholar-Athlete of the game against South Carolina (Sept. 17) and Florida (Oct. 1). Red Lobster donated $1,000 to the University of Alabama's general scholarship fund on behalf of Ryans for both of his CBS honors.
Nominated by their schools, which are limited to one nominee each, candidates must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of eligibility, have a grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first team player and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship. With a 3.7 average GPA, 14 of the players have earned all-conference recognition on the field and 14 of them have served as captains of their teams.
"We take great pride in providing each member of the scholar-athlete class with a coveted $18,000 scholarship for their post-graduate studies," said NFF President Steven J. Hatchell. "They have set the standard for their teammates and for all who play sports. By highlighting their achievements, we hope to inspire all student-athletes to higher levels of achievement in all aspects of their lives, especially the next generation of players."
Selected by the NFF Awards Committee, comprised of former coaches, Hall of Famers and college administrators, the 16 National Scholar-Athlete Award recipients will be honored at the 48th NFF Awards Dinner on December 6 at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City.
"After thorough review of 184 outstanding candidates representing schools from all levels of collegiate play, the committee's deliberations resulted in the selection of an exceptional class of 16 scholar-athletes," said Robert E. Mulcahy III, chairman of the NFF Awards Committee and director of athletics at Rutgers University. "Knowing the importance and prestige of these awards, the committee takes the utmost care in making the selections, and I applaud them for their efforts."
Each will receive an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship, and one of the 16 will be announced as the recipient of the 2005 Draddy Trophy, which recognizes an individual as the absolute best scholar-athlete in the nation. Established to honor former NFF Chairman Vincent dePaul Draddy, a Manhattan College quarterback who developed the Izod and Lacoste brands, the award comes with a stunning 24-inch, 25-pound bronze trophy and increases the winner's scholarship to a total of $25,000.
Launched in 1959, the NFF scholar-athlete program is the first initiative in history to credit a football player for both academic and athletic accomplishments. This year's scholarship recipients include:
DeMeco Ryans, University of Alabama, LB, Management, Bessemer, Ala.
Josh Betts, Miami University (Ohio), QB, Finance, Vandalia, Ohio
David Castillo, Florida State University, C, Exercise Science/Dietetics, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Greg Eslinger, University of Minnesota, C, Health & Wellness, Minneapolis, Minn.
Grayling Love, Arizona State University, OL, Business Finance, Tempe, Ariz.
Garrett Mills, University of Tulsa, TE, Management, Tulsa, Okla.
Rudy Niswanger, Louisiana State University, OL, Kinesiology, Baton Rouge, La.
Bradley Smith, University of Missouri, QB, Business Admin./Marketing, Youngstown, Ohio
Reed Doughty, Univ. of Northern Colorado, FS, Sport & Exercise Science, Johnstown, Colo.
Nick Hartigan, Brown University, RB, Political Science & History, Fairfax, Va.
Cory Cangelosi, Univ. of Central Arkansas, DB, Speech Communications, Mandeville, La.
Ryan Koch, St. Cloud State University, WR, Computer Science, Madison, Wis.
Chris Edwards, Washington & Jefferson, QB, Cell/Molecular Biology, Uniontown, Ohio Matt Hawn, Saint John's University (MN), LB, Biology/Pre-Dentistry, Eau Claire, Wis.
Santo Maimone, Case Western Reserve, CB, Chemistry/Anthropology, Eastlake, Ohio
Tyler Emmert, Carroll College (MT), QB, Civil Engineering, Helena, Mont.