Cafaro Finalist For Rudy Award

While he might not have had the impact that its namesake made in a brief game appearance years ago, Pitt redshirt junior walk-on defensive back Dan Cafaro has been named a finalist for the Second College Football "Rudy Award,'' it was announced today by the Rudy Foundation.

The Rudy Award is named after Daniel "Rudy'' Ruettiger, immortalized in the film that bears his nickname and chronicles the life of a persistent and dedicated walk-on college football player. The Rudy Award was created to honor student-athletes who demonstrate exemplary character, courage, contribution and commitment as members of their college football teams.

"Getting nominated for this award is very special to me,'' Dan Cafaro said. "I owe everything to my teammates and my family. It's unreal. I'm still kind of in shock that I'm up for this award.''

Cafaro, a graduate of Upper St. Clair High School in suburban Pittsburgh, is one of the Panthers' unsung heroes as a second-year walk-on. He will earn his first letter this year, playing in 10 games as a special teams contributor and making two tackles. Both were on kickoff coverage against Notre Dame and West Virginia. He joined Pitt last year after beginning his career at Virginia Tech.

Cafaro is a past recipient of Pitt's Demale Stanley Award, which goes to the team's most inspirational player. He earned the admiration of teammates last year while making the squad as a walk-on and persevering through the various season's regimens while simultaneously undergoing treatment for cancer.

"I think you have to give E.J. Borghetti a lot of credit for the media end of it, but Danny's a great inspiration,'' Pitt football coach Dave Wannstedt said. "And he should be a great inspiration to this football team every day that he's out here. ... He was on every special teams unit that we had and did a great job.''

As a Rudy Award finalist, Cafaro will be honored at a breakfast to be held in conjunction with the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Convention on January 12, 2009, at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tenn. Rudy Ruettiger will personally present each finalist with an award and a collegiate scholarship. An overall winner will be announced during the event and presented with the top scholarship and first-place sculpture 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,'' Ruettiger said in a released statement. "It was great to see the number of nominations increase so drastically this year, as we continue to build the Rudy Award into a top collegiate honor.

"We are reminded by each nominee's personal story that there really are no better role models on the gridiron than those who demonstrate great character, courage, contribution and commitment to their team.''

The other two Rudy Award finalists for 2008 are Texas Christian University senior kickoff specialist Drew Combs and University of Oklahoma senior safety and linebacker Nic Harris.

Panther Digest Top Stories