March 21, 2012
By Brian Gunning, Army Athletic Communications
WEST POINT, N.Y. (March 21, 2012) -- Army senior linebacker Andrew Rodriguez added another trophy to his mantle yesterday, by winning the 2011 James E. Sullivan Award. The honor, presented by the Amateur Athletic Union, or AAU, is given annually to the nation's most outstanding amateur athlete. The honor has been presented annually since 1930, and is based on character, leadership and sportsmanship.
Rodriguez received the award at the New York Athletic Club. One of six finalists, the Arlington, Va., native is the third Army football player to win the Sullivan Award and the first since Y. Arnold Tucker in 1946. Felix "Doc" Blanchard also took home the trophy in 1945.
"This award is a tribute to all the people who have helped me throughout my life, especially my family," Rodriguez said. "I had the opportunity to play for all the servicemen and servicewomen who watched us every week. That's who my teammates and I played for, and this award goes out to them."
An Academic All-American, Rodriguez is only the third player to win both the Sullivan Award and the National Football Foundation's Campbell Trophy, which is presented to the nation's top football scholar-athlete. Rodriguez joins Peyton Manning and Tim Tebow on that short list of double honorees.
Rodriguez, chosen as one of the Black Knights' three captains by his teammates, returned to the field this past fall after missing all of 2010 with a back injury. He started 11 of the Black Knights' 12 games, and ranked fifth on the team with 59 tackles. Rodriguez accounted for a team-leading three takeaways, intercepting a pass and recovering two fumbles.
Rodriguez was the Black Knights' leading tackler in 2009. For his career, he racked up 144 tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries in 24 games.
In the classroom, Rodriguez boasts a 4.12 grade-point average. He was a 2009 and 2011 CoSIDA Academic All-District I selection, and earned first-team Academic All-America accolades this past fall. Rodriguez has been on the West Point dean's list six times, and is ranked third in West Point's Class of 2012.
Recent winners of the AAU Sullivan Award include Rulan Gardner (wrestling) in 2000, Michelle Kwan (figure skating) in 2001, Sarah Hughes (figure skating) in 2002, Michael Phelps (swimming) in 2003, Paul Hamm (gymnastics) in 2004, J.J. Redick (men's basketball) in 2005, Jessica Long (paralympic women's swimming) in 2006, Tim Tebow (football) in 2007, Shawn Johnson (gymnastics) in 2008, Amy Palmiero-Winters (running-ultra marathon) in 2009 and Evan Lysacek (figure skating) in 2010.
The other five finalists include Jillian Camarena-Williams (track & field), Alex Jupiter (volleyball), Jason Read (rowing), Katherine Reutter (speedskating) and Jordyn Weiber (gymnastics).
The finalists were selected from personal nominations following a review by the AAU Sullivan Award Executive Committee. The winner was determined through voting by select members of the media, previous winners and AAU staff. The public was also allowed input through nationwide polling on the USA Today website.
Rodriguez is the second cadet in the last three years to be a finalist for the honor, joining 2011 West Point graduate Clint Moore (2009, baseball). After commissioning as a second lieutenant in May, Rodriguez will go to Fort Benning, Ga., for infantry officer training; his first duty station is Vicenza, Italy.