Not often two Super Bowl veterans such as Arizona defensive legends Ricky Hunley and Randy Robbins are at a local event and are not the headliners.
The centers of attention — honored at the National Football Federation Scholar-Athlete Awards Banquet at Doubletree Inn Saturday — were the young local football standouts who are turning their success on the field and the classroom into promising futures.
Robbins, the keynote speaker who is the Casa Grande High School athletic director, asked the young student-athletes: “What do you want your lives to represent as you get to my age, middle age? How do you want to be remembered? I know we’re in good hands. I’m looking forward to seeing the outstanding young men you guys are going to become.”
“I’m waiting to hear your stories because I know it will be remarkable,” he continued. “But whatever you do in life, go give it all-out 100 percent because there’s a lot out there. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. … Don’t put any limits on yourself.”
Western New Mexico will have four of the honorees on their roster starting next season: Cienega running back/linebacker Thomas Webb Jr., Salpointe linemen Thomas Linares and Curtis Franks and Empire running back Wyatt Jeffries.
Future ASU quarterback Trenton Bourguet, joining the Sun Devils as a preferred walk-on, was also honored after his stellar career at Marana as well as posting a 3.85 GPA.
Hunley accepted Dick Tomey’s Joe Kearney Leadership Award. Tomey, who is battling lung cancer, could not make the event. Hunley, who played for the late Larry Smith (a coach he deeply respects), said to the award recipients about Tomey: “I hope that some of you guys get the opportunity to play for or get mentored by a coach like Coach Tomey because in my book, he’s second to none.”
Former Marana track and field standout Cleo Robinson, a longtime Pac-12 football referee, was honored with the Mike Lude President’s Award.
The list of the awards recipients:
- Caden Wechsler, Sabino
- Curtis Franks, Salpointe
- Charles Mustain, Ironwood Ridge
- Casey Way, Pusch Ridge
- Ismael Ballesteros, Tucson
- Thomas Lares, Salpointe
- Thomas Webb Jr., Cienega
- Jimmy Hamilton, Sabino
- Trenton Bourguet, Marana
- Wyatt Jeffries, Empire
- Dominick Rodriguez, CDO
- Diego Miranda, Marana
- Malcolm Holland, University of Arizona
Here are parts of video interviews (with longtime broadcaster Dana Cooper answering the questons) with those honored today:
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.