Oct. 2, 2008
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue defensive tackle and team captain Ryan Baker has been named one of 57 semifinalists from the Football Bowl Subdivision for the 2008 Draddy Trophy, the National Football Foundation announced on Wednesday.
"The Draddy Trophy is one of college football's most sought after and competitive awards," said NFF Chairman Archie Manning. "It recognizes an individual as the absolute best in the country for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary community leadership, and we're incredibly proud to select the next winner from this remarkable group of semifinalists."
Nominated by their schools, which are limited to one nominee each, semifinalists must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of eligibility, have a GPA of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first team player or significant contributor, and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship.
Baker, who is majoring in management and was elected as one of four team captains by his teammates for the 2008 season, meets all of those requirements and then some. A three-time member of the Dean's List (3.5 cumulative GPA) and the Athletic Director's Honor Roll, Baker has been named Academic All-Big Ten each of the last three years. He has achieved a 3.23 grade point average during his time at Purdue while working to overcome a documented learning disability. In addition to his work in the classroom, he has been significantly involved in the football team's community service endeavors.
On the field, he has twice earned Purdue's Pit Bull Award which is presented to the team member exemplifying and sustaining tenacity and intense play. Heading into play this weekend against No. 6 Penn State, Baker has racked up 67 career tackles, including 16 for losses and seven sacks.
"Ryan is the epitome of a Boilermaker student-athlete," Purdue head coach Joe Tiller said. "No one works harder than he does - in the classroom, the weight room, the playing field. There are high-motor guys, and then there is 'Bakes.' He takes it to another level. He has the ultimate respect of his teammates. He loves Purdue and loves the community. The Draddy Trophy was created for a guy like Ryan Baker."
The NFF Awards Committee will select and announce up to 15 finalists on Oct. 29. Each finalist will be recognized as part of the 2008 National Scholar- Athlete Class, receiving an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship. The Draddy winner, who will receive a $25,000 postgraduate scholarship, will be announced at the NFF's Annual Awards Dinner on December 9 at the prestigious Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. A total distribution of more than $300,000 in scholarships will be awarded that evening.