01/19/2011 10:38 AM
Texas Christian University center Jake Kirkpatrick was formally presented with the 2010 Rimington Trophy in front of a packed house at the Rococo Theatre in downtown Lincoln, NE last Saturday.
Kirkpatrick, who was also a finalist for the Lombardi Award, became the first player from TCU to receive the award.
"This award is a blessing. I feel very grateful to be named the best center in college football. Its an honor to be here to receive it," said Kirkpatrick.
Former University of Alabama and Miami Dolphins center Dwight Stephenson was also formally presented with the 2010 President Gerald R. Ford Legends Award. Stephenson led the Crimson Tide during their 1978 and 1979 national championship years.
"To have my name be associated with the great men who have won this award is truly special. I want to thank Dave Rimington and the Ford Award committee for this honor," said Stephenson.
Kirkpatrick and the TCU Horned Frogs finished the 2010 season in dramatic fashion, winning their first Rose Bowl title in school history. At 13-0, the season was their best in recent memory, only topped by the Horned Frogs' 1938 national championship team, led by legendary quarterback Davey O' Brien.
Kirkpatrick's line played a critical role all season long, allowing the Horned Frogs offense to post an average of 260 rushing yards per game, 230 passing yards per game, and outscoring opponents by nearly 32 points per game - an impressive margin by any standard.
For Alabama coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, Stephenson was "the best center I ever coached. He was a man among children." Stephenson carried his success at Alabama over to the National Football League, where he played nine seasons with the Miami Dolphins. As quarterback Dan Marino's center, Stephenson quickly established himself as the NFL's best center, having made the Pro Bowl five consecutive seasons. In 1998, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
College football luminaries such as Mike Rozier, Johnny Rodgers, and Eric Crouch were in attendance. Former Virginia Tech center Jake Grove, the 2003 recipient of the Rimington Trophy, was also on hand for the banquet.
In its eleventh year, the Rimington Trophy has raised over $2 million for the cystic fibrosis community in Nebraska.