Cowboy Up!

When West Virginia linebacker Jay Henry was honored as a Playboy Scholar-Athlete, images of cascading waterfalls and sprawling mansions likely meshed with bunnies in bikinis. Instead, he got a bull ride.

Henry joined fellow Mountaineer Dan Mozes as a Playboy honoree, garnering him a free trip to a Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort in Phoenix for a photo shoot and a weekend of fun. It was the 50th such event sponsored by the men's magazine and, up until the 40th edition, the athletes mixed with the models and even magazine founder Hugh Hefner.

"Unfortunately, they had an ‘incident' 10 years ago and now we don't even see the models," Henry said. "We are totally separated. But that's fine. There were a lot of other things to do."

Players met sports editor Gary Cole, signed 50-plus footballs so each player got one with every other's signature, and received specially made Reebok gear that, by NCAA law, didn't exceed the NCAA limit of a $325 gift. But most players are natural competitors, and Playboy planned for that as well. It offered pool and golf, and set up several competitions, one of which Henry won.

"They had a lot of stuff going on, like hitting golf balls, shooting hockey pucks, throwing football or hitting baseball. Then they brought out this mechanical bull," Henry said.

And, being a native Oklahoman, the linebacker jumped on and rode eight seconds, as he had many times before, no?

"I had never done anything like that before," he said. "I had never been on a mechanical one or a real one."

Yet he outlasted every other player to earn honors and a mention on several websites covering the event. The mechanical bull was part of the last night's events, called the Cowboy Carnival and Awards. A roping challenge and a quick-draw contest were also held. Southern Cal's Dwayne Jarrett also got a nod for his bull riding, and listed the bull as being "more active" than in previous years.

"I went first," Henry said, "and I had no idea how long I lasted. I didn't know until the end that I had won. But it was fun. I'd definitely do it again. We got to exchange some phone numbers and meet a bunch of players. It's a great time."

Mozes, for his part, was judged, along with Michigan's Leon Hall, as the player you would most like to marry your daughter. How that's selected by a bunch of athletes and writers…who knows?

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