Henry a Draddy Finalist

West Virginia linebacker Jay Henry was named a finalist for the Draddy Award, often referred to as the "Academic Heisman."

Henry, a 6-2, 220 pound linebacker out of Jenks High in Tulsa, Okla., is a three-year letterman and inarguably the most knowledgeable Mountaineer football player, both in the classroom and on the field. Henry carries a 4.0 grade point average in a double major of Finance and Accounting. He finished his Finance degree last year and will graduate in May, in five years, with two degrees when the Accounting coursework is completed then.

His status as one of 17 finalists, called the National Football Foundation's Scholar-Athlete Class, earns Henry $18,000 toward postgraduate studies. Rutgers' Brian Leonard and Connecticut's Rhema Fuller were also named finalists for the Draddy, established to honor former NFF Chairman Vincent dePaul Draddy, a Manhattan College quarterback who developed the Izod and Lacoste brands. The award comes with a 24-inch, 25-pound bronze trophy and another $25,000 toward graduate work.

"I don't have free time often," Henry said of his balance between football and academics. "There will be some times I get to go have fun with my buddies. But I live with (current center) Dan Mozes, (former linebacker) Mike Lorello and (current safety) Aaron Meckstroth, and they give me a hard time sometimes about the work I put in, like when they are watching a movie or something. But it's something I have been committed to since I got here."

And before. It's a well-documented team fact that Henry has never made anything other than an A in school. That's 16-plus years of straight-A grades withstanding even the most discriminating professor. What's lost in much of the academic accolades is that Henry is also a very solid football player. He can man all three of No. 4 West Virginia's (7-0, 2-0 Big East) linebacker positions (he plays middle) and he knows every one of the Mountaineers' special teams. Henry is one tackle shy of 150 for his career and has three tackles for loss this season already after recording 8.5 his previous three seasons and 5.5 last year.

To earn the Draddy, given to the nation's top scholar-athlete, college football playing student-athletes must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of eligibility, have a grade point average of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale), have shown superior academic application and performance, have outstanding football ability as a first team player, and have demonstrated outstanding leadership and citizenship. Henry plans on eventually attending a post-graduate school for a Master's in Business.

"My plan originally was to go four years, then go for Master's," Henry said, "but I have been advised of a better idea. If I want to go to a Top 10 business school later in life, I need work experience to get in, so I am going to go work for a few years, then apply. I am not sure where. I spend so much time with football and school, once football is over I really have to get at it and apply. I'd like to work in Wealth Management, maybe as a personal financial advisor. Accounting is not my thing. It helps with finance, however.

"It means a lot, and it would be nice to get the money for my MBA eventually. A friend of mine, Garin Mills, a tight end for Tulsa, was a Draddy Finalist. He got to do it last year, and once I found out what it what about and how much fun it is, it has always been in the back of my mind. You get to do a lot of neat stuff."

One the perks is a trip to New York for the National Football Foundation's Award Banquet on Tues., Dec. 5. It will be the 49th annual awards ceremony. Lorello was a semifinalist last year when, as a senior, he was an All-Big East player and helped WVU to an 11-1 season and a Sugar Bowl win. This year, Henry said he would like to see the inductions into the NFF's Hall of Fame. Included in this year's class are coaches Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno.

"We take great pride in providing each member of the scholar-athlete class with a coveted $18,000 scholarship for their post-graduate studies," NFF President Steven J. Hatchell said. "They have set the standard for their teammates and for all who play sports. By highlighting their achievements, we hope to inspire future generations of student-athletes to higher levels of achievement in all aspects of their lives."

Henry has 22 tackles this season, good for 10th on the team. His three tackles for loss have tallied 11 lost yards. He also has a sack, a pass deflection and one pass break-up. In the past, Henry has been named an Academic All-American, was a recipient of the Anson Mount Scholar-Athlete Award from Playboy and was on the Ronnie Lott Impact Award watch list. He also won the Ideal Mountain Man Award at WVU. Henry did not see varsity action in 2002, but won the Danny Van Etten Award as top defensive rookie performer on the Mountaineers' scout teams. He has earned first team Academic All-America honors from ESPN and CoSIDA with his 4.0 GPA in finance.

Past recipients of the Draddy Award include: Rudy Niswanger, LSU (2005); Michael Munoz, Tennessee (2004); Craig Krenzel, Ohio State (2003); Brandon Roberts, Washington University in St. Louis (2002); Joaquin Gonzalez, University of Miami (2001); Kyle Vanden Bosch, University of Nebraska (2000); Chad Pennington, Marshall University (1999); Matt Stinchcomb, University of Georgia (1998); Peyton Manning, University of Tennessee (1997); Danny Wuerffel, University of Florida (1996); Bobby Hoying, Ohio State University (1995); Rob Zatechka, University of Nebraska (1994); Thomas Burns, University of Virginia (1993); Jim Hansen, University of Colorado (1992); Brad Culpepper, University of Florida (1991); Chris Howard, U.S. Air Force Academy (1990).

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