Leonard Named 2006 National Scholar-Athlete

Selected as the best and the brightest from the college gridiron, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) announced on Thursday the 17 members of the 2006 National Scholar-Athlete Class, who will vie as the finalists for the Draddy Trophy, presented by HealthSouth.

Highly regarded as one of the nation's premier fullbacks, Brian Leonard has helped lead a renaissance with the Rutgers University football program. As the team keeps rising to national prominence, Leonard continues to collect academic and athletic praise.

A Labor & Employment Relations major, Leonard has claimed Academic All-Conference honors three times and a spot on the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District First Team in 2005.

Active in his community, Leonard has participated in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life walk and Read Across America. A volunteer in the opening ceremonies of the New Jersey Special Olympics, he has traveled to several local hospitals to visit with children and hand out gifts. Leonard also serves as a speaker for high school athletics events and football camps. He becomes Rutgers' sixth National Scholar-Athlete and the first since Nathaniel Jones in 2003.

Leonard is one of only nine Division-1 athletes to be named as finalists. A total of three student athletes were recognized from the Big East Conference, including Rhema Fuller (DT - Uconn), Jay Henry (LB - WVU), and Leonard (FB - RU). A total of 17 collegiate athletes were named finalists in all.

The 17 National Scholar-Athlete Award recipients will be honored at the 49th NFF Awards Dinner on December 5 at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City.

Each will receive an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship, and one of the 17 will be announced as the recipient of the 2006 Draddy Trophy, which recognizes an individual as the absolute best scholar-athlete in the nation. Established to honor former NFF Chairman Vincent dePaul Draddy, a Manhattan College quarterback who developed the Izod and Lacoste brands, the award comes with a stunning 24-inch, 25-pound bronze trophy and increases the winner's scholarship to a total of $25,000.

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