Golden Valley High School senior Taylor McKnight, SCVTV’s Student Athlete of the Week for Oct. 10, has been selected as one of 12 finalists in the U.S. for the National High School Football Rudy Awards.
Now in their third year, the Rudy Awards were named for Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, the subject of the 1993 feature film “Rudy” starring Sean Astin. The awards celebrate outstanding young athletes who’ve overcome obstacles to inspire and motivate their teammates, classmates and communities.
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McKnight was born with Cranial Synostosis, which can result in one’s temporal plates fusing together. It can create difficulties with one’s mouth, eyes, and brain development. At 3 months, Taylor had to undergo an 11-hour procedure to correct the issue, which required doctors to use a total of six pints of blood in order to replace the blood lost during the surgery.
He suffered a cardiac arrest in the process, due to the amount of morphine in his tiny body, and it left him unable to walk until he was nearly 2 years old. He was also left without any peripheral vision – a troublesome after-effect given his lifelong desire to play football.
“Taylor is the kind of young man that made me want to become a coach and a teacher in the first place. On a daily basis, he reminds me why this profession is so rewarding. Taylor humbles me, and makes me proud to know him,” said Coach Michael Edwards.
In addition to playing football, Taylor is involved in an abundance of extracurricular activities. He volunteers with the Special Olympics and tutors teammates after school. He also mentors young football players through his volunteer work with a local youth football organization.
Taylor is a 4.08 student who takes Advanced Placement classes, qualifying for the principal’s list each semester in high school. He is also a member of the ASB student government organization. Taylor is always there to help his community and team, and inspire his peers with his tireless work ethic, selflessness, and strong leadership.
“It takes a lot of courage to continue working at something when you are clearly the underdog,” said friend Stacy Richards. “It took several years of perseverance, and a growth spurt, to make Taylor the player he is today. I believe Taylor views football as he does life, and that the challenges he faces are all obstacles he can and will overcome.”
The 12 finalists for the 2011 Rudy Award are:
- Quinton Anderson of Joplin, MO
- Ryan Anderson of Kent, OH
- Shane Halpin of Gulf Breeze, FL
- Rashawn King of Raleigh, NC
- Kaleb Mackey of Afton, OK
- Andrea Marsh of Panama, NY
- Addison Marshall of Fulshear, TX
- Taylor McKnight of Canyon Country, CA
- Dazmond Patterson of Plant City, FL
- Matt Riniker of Luxemburg, IA
- Juan Diego Temple of San Juan Capistrano, CA
- Andrew Thomas of Chadds Ford, PA
A total of $25,000 in academic scholarships, provided by the Trusted Sports Foundation, will be awarded to those players who bring the most heart to the game, as opposed to the highest stats. A national selection committee chaired by Drew Bledsoe, former New England Patriots star and four-time Pro Bowl quarterback will determine final results. Other members include Troy Aikman, Fox Sports commentator and legendary quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, Leigh Anne Tuohy, mother of NFL player Michael Oher and inspirational figure of film, “The Blind Side,” and former New England Patriot and ESPN sportscaster.
The Rudy Award winner will receive a $7,500 college academic scholarship, $2,500 to four runners-up, $1,500 to the fan favorite, and $1,000 to each of six remaining finalists. They will all be featured in the January 15, 2012 issue of PARADE alongside the 2012 PARADE All-America High School Football Team.
The Rudy Awards finalists were chosen from 50 semifinalists, 40 selected by Trusted Sports Foundation and 10 by a fan vote. A second round of voting determined the current top 12 finalists. The winner and runners up will be chosen by an esteemed Selection Committee, which includes former NFL greats Troy Aikman, Drew Bledsoe and Shaun Alexander. The fan favorite is determined by online voting.