Nov. 14, 2012
Rice senior defensive tackle Jamael Thomas is one of 50 college football players who began their careers as walk-ons who have been nominated for the 2012 Burlsworth Trophy.
Presented by the Springdale (Ark.) Rotary Club, the Bullsworth Trophy is given to the most outstanding football player in America who began his career as a walk-on. A walk-on is defined as a player who began his first season of participation with a D1 (FBS) football program without financial aid of any kind from his university's athletic department.
Thomas will be one of 10 Owls who will take to the field at Rice Stadium for the final time on Saturday and will be honored prior to the game in Senior Day ceremonies. He has been credited with a career-best nine tackles this season and was in the starting lineup for the opener vs. UCLA. He will join his Huntsville High School teammate Jared Williams in Senior Day ceremonies. Williams came to Rice on a scholarship and convinced Rice coaches to give his teammate, who had been accepted to Rice, an opportunity to walk on to the football team.
"We are extremely proud of this group of nominees for the 2012 Burlsworth Trophy," said Marty Burlsworth, CEO and founder of the Burlsworth Foundation and brother of Brandon. "All of these young men have worked very hard to get to where they are. The stories behind these players are incredible and they are all winners in my book."
The 2011 winner was quarterback, Austin Davis from the University of Southern Mississippi. In his four-year career at USM, Davis amassed 10,727 passing yards, 81 touchdown passes and 12,082 yards in total offense. Davis was drafted this year and is now a reserve quarterback for the St. Louis Rams. The inaugural recipient in 2010 was two-time All-ACC center Sean Bedford from Georgia Tech.
Without one D1 scholarship offer, Brandon Burlsworth walked on to the Razorback team in 1994, worked his way to being a three-year starter and was eventually named an All-American in 1998. Burlsworth was selected as the 63rd overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1999 NFL draft, but was tragically killed in a car accident 11 days later. The Burlsworth Foundation was created in his memory and supports the physical and spiritual needs of children, in particular those children that have limited opportunities.
Springdale Rotary Club will host a banquet on Dec. 3 in Springdale, Ark. to honor the finalists and to announce the 2012 winner.
For more information about the Burlsworth Trophy, visit www.burlsworthtrophy.com.