McArthur Wins National Award

The tragically sad and remarkably uplifting career of Florida's Brandon McArthur received an exclamation point Friday when the Gator Baseball player was named the winner of the Lowe's CLASS award. He received the honor at Rosenblatt Stadium at the College World Series.

The CLASS award -- an acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School – is chosen by a nationwide vote of coaches, media and fans. It has grown into the nation's premier tribute to college seniors. The award identifies personal qualities that define a complete student-athlete, with criteria including excellence in the classroom, character and community, as well as competition on the field.

Gator pitcher Stacey Nelson collected softball's version of the award prior to the NCAA Women's College World Series.

"When my phone rang letting me know that I had won the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, I couldn't even finish my meal because I was very excited," McArthur said in a University of Florida news release. "This is an honor that I would have never expected entering the season. Having so many people support me throughout my career at the University of Florida, this recognition will be a great source of pride for them too. Knowing what the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award represents, it is an honor for me to be the recipient, especially knowing that the other nine finalists were all deserving candidates who easily could have won."

McArthur finished his senior year with a career-high .338 batting average, 41 runs batted in, 25 runs scored and a team-leading 14 doubles. Florida captured its first Southeastern Conference Eastern Division title since 2005 and ended its campaign with a 42-22 overall mark. The Gators claimed the NCAA Gainesville Regional with three consecutive wins, as McArthur was chosen to the All-Tournament team, and earned their third trip to Super Regionals in the past six seasons.

McArthur received his bachelor's degree in criminology and is working towards a master's degree in anthropology. He carries a 3.21 GPA and is a four-time selection to the SEC Academic Honor Roll. He is one of only six Gator baseball student-athletes to have been named to the conference honor roll at least four times.

In the community, McArthur regularly donates his time to various local causes, including Special Olympics, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the March of Dimes. He recently received a President's Volunteer Service Award, recognizing his contributions to the Gainesville community. In addition, he is a two-time selection to the SEC Baseball Community Service Team, highlighting one baseball player from each conference school for his superior service efforts.

"Brandon is a remarkable individual whose story will be passed down to future Gator teams," Florida head baseball coach Kevin O'Sullivan said in that same release. "What he has accomplished in the classroom, on the field and in everyday life are all characteristics everyone can learn from. Brandon is one of the best people that I have ever been around and is an inspiration to all of us."

McArthur accomplished all of what he did and more despite being badly injured in an attack prior to ever playing a game for the Gators. The unprovoked, random assault caused a severe head injury and led to McArthur requiring three brain surgeries. While he has fully recovered mentally, McArthur never again showed the tremendous skills that made him the fifth round choice of the Minnesota Twins in the 2003 MLB draft. He also tore ligaments in his elbow and knee during his six years in Gainesville. His best season was his last one where he hit .338 with 14 doubles, 3 HR and 41 RBI.

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