Nation’s Premier Award for Seniors Announced During Fiesta Bowl National Telecast
Tempe, Arizona Three-time All-American linebacker James Laurinaitis, who returned to Ohio State University for his senior season in 2008 and led the Buckeyes to a fourth consecutive Big Ten Championship while being a role model both on and off the field, has been named the inaugural winner of the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award for NCAA. Division I Football (Bowl Subdivision).
The award, chosen by a nationwide vote of coaches, media and fans, is presented annually to the most outstanding NCAA Division I senior student-athlete in nine sports. The announcement and trophy presentation to Laurinaitis were made today during the pre-game show of the Fiesta Bowl national telecast on FOX.
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award has grown into the nation’s premier tribute to college seniors. The award identifies personal qualities that define a complete student-athlete, with criteria including excellence in the classroom, character and community, as well as competition on the field.
Laurinaitis, who has received many awards including the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, said the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award is special because of what it represents. “What a tremendous honor this is to be recognized with such a prestigious award,” Laurinaitis said. “The Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award is already well known in basketball, and to be the first-ever winner for football is something very special. I appreciate the compliment it pays to me and to Ohio State to be recognized for character, academics and community service. I am very proud to be the winner.”
Laurinaitis was voted team captain for the second consecutive season by his teammates and is only the seventh Buckeye to be elected twice. He is a three-time, first-team All-Big Ten selection, and finished second in the Big Ten in 2008 with 121 tackles (10.1 per game). He recorded eight double-figure tackle games this season and ranks seventh in Ohio State history with 366 career tackles. During his tenure as a Buckeye, Ohio State has played in four BCS Bowl games, including two national championship games.
A fierce competitor, Laurinaitis’ ambition is also apparent in the classroom. The Academic All-Big Ten selection will graduate this March with a degree in communications and currently maintains a 3.28 GPA.
A native of Hamel, Minnesota, Laurinaitis makes community outreach a priority. He shares his personal testimony to multiple groups per month and sees his position as a football player as a platform to motivate others.
“James Laurinaitis is the type of young man who takes to heart the ability of a college athlete to be a positive role model for others,” remarked Ohio State Head Coach Jim Tressel. “Through his play on the field, through his academic success and through his service to others, he represents Ohio State and collegiate athletics in a tremendously positive manner.”
of the finalists. Joining Laurinaitis on the 2008 first team are: Louie Sakoda (University of Utah), Chase Daniel (University of Missouri – Columbia), Chase Clement (Rice University), and Jeff Byers (University of Southern California). The second team includes Maurice Crum, Jr. (University of Notre Dame), Darryl Richard (Georgia Tech University), Alex Mack (University of California – Berkeley), Travis Beckum (University of Wisconsin – Madison), and Austin Starr (Indiana University).
“When you read about James Laurinaitis one question comes to mind, How does he do it?’” said Bob Gfeller, Lowe’s senior vice president of Marketing and Advertising. “James will leave Ohio State University not only as the one of the best defensive players in school history, but also with his degree. Lowe’s is honored to recognize one of the nation’s top athletes not only for his dominance on the football field, but for his community, character and classroom success.”
Sportscaster Dick Enberg, Honorary Chairman of the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, first conceived the idea of an award for seniors in 2001 in response to the growing trend of men’s basketball players leaving school early for the NBA.
Lowe’s, an official Corporate Partner of the NCAA, expanded the Senior CLASS Award program in 2007 to include NCAA Division I men’s and women’s soccer, men’s ice hockey, men’s lacrosse, baseball and softball. With the addition of Football (Bowl Subdivision) this year, the award program now includes nine NCAA sports. “Recognizing the many achievements of student-athletes is a goal the NCAA proudly shares with our corporate partner Lowe’s,” said Greg Shaheen, NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball and Business Strategies. “The Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award places a spotlight on the quality attributes of our future studentathlete graduates. The NCAA is proud to honor student-athlete leaders who have demonstrated a commitment to excel on the field of competition while they earn their degrees.”