Ritcher Named Recipient of Ford Legends Award

Former Wolfpack player Jim Ritcher, who was the first center in college football history to win the prestigious Outland Trophy, has been named the 2009 recipient of the President Gerald R. Ford Legends Award.

The award will be presented during the 10th Annual Rimington Trophy Presentation on Saturday, January 16, 2010 at the Rococo Theatre in Lincoln, Neb.

"I am blessed and truly honored to be the 2010 recipient of the Gerald R. Ford Legends Center Award. Being named in association with President Ford, the former recipients and the members of the Rimington Trophy-Boomer Esiason Foundation is significant because of their reputation for integrity," Ritcher said.

To be considered for the President Gerald R. Ford Legends Center Award candidates must have either played the Center position at the collegiate or professional level; made extraordinary contributions to his team during his football career; or have proven to be an exemplary citizen, philanthropist or leader in the business or football community.

"We are thrilled to award Jim with this prestigious honor. Before the Rimington Trophy, he was one of only three centers in history to win a major college football award. Having made a successful 16-year career in the National Football League, Jim has established himself as one of the most outstanding centers of all time. I extend my sincere congratulations to Jim and his family," BEF president Dave Rimington said.

A two-time All-America center at North Carolina State University, Ritcher provided a steady hand throughout the 1976-79 seasons. Twice he was awarded the Jacobs Trophy as the best blocker at the center position in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).

During the 1979 season, Ritcher cleared the way as the Wolfpack captured the ACC title for the seventh time school history. At season's end, he became the first center in history to win the Outland Trophy as the nation's best interior lineman.

Ritcher later enjoyed a 16-year career in the National Football League with the Buffalo Bills and Atlanta Falcons, appearing in four Super Bowls.

On February 8, 1987, Ritcher's jersey number 51 was officially retired in a ceremony at Carter-Finley Stadium. In 1998, Ritcher became the third player from NC State to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Ritcher, who currently serves as a flight instructor and pilot for American Airlines, has had two sons play for NC State as well. John was tight end from 2002-05, while Harrison is currently playing fullback for the Wolfpack.

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