Ryans To New York

DeMeco Ryans will be in New York next week, at the Waldorf-Astoria no less, to be recognized as one of the nation's top student-athletes. Ryans is a finalist for the prestigious Draddy Trophy, to be presented at the annual banquet of the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame.

DeMeco Ryans, a senior Alabama linebacker from Bessemer, this week was named first team All-America by the American Football Coaches Association. He is a finalist for the Butkus Award, given to the nation's top linebacker, and the Nagurski Award, given to the nation's top defensive player He is fifth on the Crimson Tide's all-time tackles list with 300 and owns the school's single game tackle record with 25

Ryans is a three-time Academic All-Southeastern Conference selection. He has a 3.7 grade point average as a management major and will be graduated in December. He participates in the "Read Across America" program and volunteers at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Tuscaloosa.

Ryans and the other 15 finalists will each receive an $18,000 scholarship for post-graduate studies. One of them will become the 16th recipient of the Draddy Trophy, presented by HealthSouth.

Known as the "Academic Heisman," the Draddy Trophy continues to be one of college football's most sought after and competitive awards, recognizing an individual as the absolute best in the country for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary community leadership.

"The Draddy symbolizes everything that is right about college football. It's synonymous with past, present and future greatness in all areas of one's life," said NFF President Steven J. Hatchell. "This year's finalists all deserve praise for their exceptional accomplishments, and the winner will truly join an elite group of previous recipients."

The announcement will be made during the NFF 48th Annual Awards Dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria on Tuesday, December 6.

Selected from a national list of 184 nominees, a candidate must be a senior or graduate student in his 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 finalists have earned all-conference recognition on the field and 14 of them have served as captains of their teams.

The centerpiece to the NFF's scholar-athlete program, which has awarded $8 million to 660 top athletes, the Draddy Trophy honors former NFF Chairman Vincent dePaul Draddy, a Manhattan College quarterback who developed the Izod and Lacoste brands. The award, college football's most prestigious academic honor, comes with a stunning 24-inch, 25-pound bronze trophy and increases the winner's scholarship by $7,000 to $25,000.

Launched in 1959, the NFF scholar-athlete program became the first initiative in history to credit a player for both academic and athletic accomplishments. The Draddy was first awarded in 1990. Past Draddy winners include two Rhodes Scholars, a Rhodes Scholar finalist, a Heisman winner and a 3.7 average GPA.

Other 2005 Draddy finalists are:

Quarterback Josh Betts of Miami of Ohio, defensive back Cory Cangelosi of Central Arkansas, center Joe David Castillo of Florida State, safety Reed Doughty of Northern Colorado, quarterback Chris Edwards and Washington and Jefferson, quarterback Tyler Emmert of Carroll College of Montana, center Greg Eslinger of Minnesota, running back Nick Hartigan of Brown, linebacker Matt Hawn of St. John's of Minnesota, wide receiver Ryan Koch of St. Cloud of Minnesota, offensive lineman Grayling Love of Arizona State, cornerback Santo Maimone of Case Western Reserve of Ohio, tight end Michael Garrett Mills of Tulsa, center Rudy Niswanger of LSU, and quarterback Bradley Smith of Missouri.

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