April 26, 2012
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Robbie Hummel, Leroy Keyes and Kurt Lichtenberg are among the Boilermakers taking part in the May 6 Scholar-Athlete Banquet, "Celebrating Our Stars," sponsored by the National Football Foundation's Joe Tiller Chapter of Northwest Indiana.
The banquet, which will recognize 53 high school football standouts and five awards recipients, will be held at Avalon Manor in Merrillville, Ind., and tickets are still available.
Joining the Purdue standouts are former Indiana University football great John Johnson, former Notre Dame All-American Allen Pinkett and Big Ten Conference Commissioner Jim Delany. They are all part of the program that will pay homage to "Sports As a Way of Life."
Hummel, a Valparaiso High School product of 2007 who just completed a brilliant college basketball career at Purdue by being named the winner of the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award during the NCAA Final Four in New Orleans, will be honored as this year's Drew Brees Mental Toughness Award Winner, becoming the first non-football player to receive the chapter award. Hummel battled his way through two ACL surgeries, countless hours of rehab and 20 months away from his sport to bounce back strong this past season. He led the Boilermakers to a 22-13 record and was named first-team All-Big Ten for the third time and honorable mention All-America for the second time. He averaged 16.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game his final year.
Delany, who is completing his 23rd year as the leader of the Big Ten, received the Distinguished American Award from the National Football Foundation's Chicago Chapter earlier this year. He will help honor the legacy of long-time Big Ten supervisor of football officials and Michigan City resident Dave Parry.
Parry would have been honored at last year's Scholar-Athlete Banquet but became ill that week and passed away last May shortly after retiring from his position as the ﬁrst national coordinator for college football oﬃciating, a position he took in early 2009. Dave's wife, Patricia, will receive a special award from NFF board member John Friend.
Previously, Parry was supervisor of Big Ten oﬃcials for 19 years, performing exemplary work, including overseeing the creation of the ﬁrst collegiate version of instant replay. He was an NCAA oﬃcial for 20 years and a National Football League oﬃcial for 15 years. Parry's experience included 20 NCAA basketball tournaments, 12 NFL playoﬀs, four NFL championship games and the 1983 Super Bowl. The David M. Parry Award has been created by the CFO to honor the nation's outstanding coordinator of football oﬃcials.
Tickets are available through the Tiller Chapter for $40 each to the general public, $35 each to NFF members and their families and $30 each to the families of the high school honorees. Contact John Friend (219-923-8397), David Schutkovske (219-762-7724, ext. 2101) or Bob Ferguson (219-464-9134) for more information.
Johnson, who starred as an all-state and All-Big Ten lineman at Hobart High School and IU, respectively, in the 1950's and early 60's, played for the Chicago Bears' legendary coach George Hallas from 1963 through '69, including the World Championship year of `63. He also had one year with the New York Giants, playing a total of seven NFL seasons before going into private business where he excelled as a human resources specialist, serving eventually as President of the John Joseph Group and John H. Johnson and Associates. He has been inducted into the Chicago Sports Hall of Fame and the Indiana Football Hall of Fame. He will be the keynote speaker at the banquet.
Pinkett, who was a two-time All-America tailback at Notre Dame in 1984 and `85, didn't grow up in Northwest Indiana (he's actually from Sterling, Va.), but he lives in the Valparaiso area now and works as a national account manager for a reconstruction company while also serving in the fall as radio commentator for Notre Dame football nation-wide broadcasts. He set several records for the Fighting Irish, including the mark for career touchdowns (53, which still stands) and career rushing (4,131 yards, a record that stood until 1998). Pinkett went on to play seven years in the NFL with the Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints. He will handle the microphone duties as the banquet's emcee.
Also on hand as a presenter for one of the awards will be NFF board member Leroy Keyes, Purdue's two-time All-America running back, Heisman Trophy runner-up of 1967 and '68 and College Football Hall of Famer. Keyes, who played in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs before finishing his career as a coach and administrator at Purdue, will present the Bernie Flowers Award for Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football to Clay and Chris Oppy of Lafayette for their work with Dream Season, a program they created to provide experiential opportunities in football for people with special needs.
Hummel, Johnson, Keyes and Pinkett will be available to sign autographs and meet the public during a silent auction reception prior to the banquet.
The event honors 53 high school seniors, 22 who were nominated by their high school coaches and principals as top scholar-athletes and 31 other seniors who were nominated by their coaches as Region 1 All-Stars.
The NFF scholar-athletes come from 22 different schools in the18-county area (Benton, Carroll, Cass, Clinton, Fountain, Fulton, Howard, Jasper, Lake, LaPorte, Miami, Newton, Porter, Pulaski, Starke, Tippecanoe, Warren and White) that stretches from Lafayette and Kokomo to Michigan City and Gary. All 22 students are headed to college next fall. Academically, seven of them are ranked in the top five percent of their graduating classes and two are No. 1 in their class. One will be chosen later this spring as the Scholar-Athlete of the Year for Northwest Indiana. The award is based 40 percent on academics, 40 percent on athletics and 20 percent on citizenship, leadership and character.
Six of these young men have been selected by a panel of judges and will be announced during the banquet as finalists for the Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award. The winner will be announced at the NFF Honors Dinner in West Lafayette on June 21.
Also during the June 21 event, three highly accomplished individuals (football coaches Frank O'Shea from the high school ranks and Joe Tiller from the collegiate ranks along with Big Ten football official Tom Ransom) will be inducted into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame as a highlight to the evening.
Two additional chapter awards will be acknowledged that night as long-time Purdue athletic trainer Denny Miller will be the first recipient of the Legends Award, and Lafayette Central Catholic High School star Danny Anthrop, a Purdue recruit, will be the first person to receive the chapter's Courage Award for helping save the life of his uncle last fall. Arnette Tiller, wife of the former coach, will receive an award from the Indiana Football Coaches Association.
As a non-profit organization, the NFF's Northwest Indiana Chapter, prior to this year, has awarded more than $131,000 in grants, scholarships and honorariums since receiving its charter in the fall of 2004. In addition to seeking donations and sponsorships (which are tax-deducible) to support the scholarship program, the chapter also receives money ($500 for every 50 dues-paying members in the local chapter) from the national office in Irving, Texas. In its first seven years, this chapter has recognized 122 scholar athletes and awarded them between $250 and $5,000 each.
The tax-deductible membership dues are $40 per year or $99 for three years, payable to the National Football Foundation. The NFF has 121 chapters and more than 12,000 members, nationally, and awards more than $1.3 million in scholarships each year.