May 25, 2012
WEST POINT, N.Y. - Football's Andrew Rodriguez and rifle's Kelly Buck received Army's highest athletic honor on Friday when they were presented with the Army Athletic Association Award at this afternoon's Awards Convocation at Eisenhower Hall. The prestigious Army Athletic Association trophy is awarded annually to the male and female cadet who displays the "most valuable service to intercollegiate athletics during a career as a cadet."
This year marks the 108th anniversary of the award that was first presented to football player Horatio Hackett in 1904.
Rodriguez is the 77th Army football player to earn the AAA Award and first since Carlton Jones in 2006. Buck, a three-time NRA All-America selection, is the first female shooter to be honored and just the second rifle representative (Chris Abalo, 2008).
The award caps an accolade-filled year for Rodriguez, who will graduate on Saturday with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and be commissioned in the Infantry branch of the U.S. Army. The Alexandria, Va., native captured the National Football Foundation's William V. Campbell Trophy, which honors the top football scholar-athlete in the nation. He was the first Army player to win the Campbell Trophy.
Just three months later, Rodriguez was named the winner of the Amateur Athletic Union's 2011 James E. Sullivan Award as the nation's most outstanding amateur athlete based on character, leadership and sportsmanship. He is the third West Point athlete to win the Sullivan Award, joining Army greats Felix "Doc" Blanchard and Y. Arnold Tucker. Rodriguez put his name alongside Tennessee standout Peyton Manning and Florida Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow as the only two college football players to win both the Campbell Trophy and Sullivan Award.
A 2011 first-team CoSIDA Academic All-American, Rodriguez entered his final semester at West Point with a 4.12 grade-point average. He was a 2009 and 2011 CoSIDA Academic All-District I selection and was honored as a member of the National Football Foundation's Hampshire Honor Society in 2012. Rodriguez will graduate as the No. 2 cadet in the Class of 2012.
Rodriguez, chosen as one of the Black Knights' three captains by his teammates, returned to the field this past fall after missing all of 2010 with a back injury. He started 11 of the Black Knights' 12 games, and ranked fifth on the team with 59 tackles. Rodriguez accounted for a team-leading three takeaways, intercepting a pass and recovering two fumbles.
The Alexandria, Va., native was the Black Knights' leading tackler in 2009. For his career, he racked up 144 tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries in 24 games.
Buck, who will graduate on Saturday with her degree in psychology and be commissioned in the Field Artillery branch of the U.S. Army, ranked among the nation's top shooters in both smallbore and air rifle throughout her four-year career. This past season she became the first Army shooter since 2008 to capture All-America honors in both disciplines. Buck repeated as a first-team choice in smallbore, while earning second-team honors in air rifle, her first such citation. She is Army's third female shooter to earn first-team All-America honors, but the first two-time selection.
The native of Reading, Mass., qualified for the NCAA individual finals (top eight) four times in her career, meeting the criteria three times in smallbore and once in air rifle. Buck placed as high as fourth in both disciplines, including in air rifle this past season.
Army's school record holder in smallbore (591), Buck has been a firing member in both disciplines, helping the Black Knights qualify for the NCAA Championships in each of her four seasons and stretch the team's streak to nine consecutive NCAA appearances. In 2012, Buck finished fourth nationally in air rifle and fifth in smallbore to help the Black Knights to runner-up honors in smallbore and fourth place in the combined scoring her senior year. It marked the program's highest finish since 2008.
Buck was crowned the 2012 Great America Rifle Conference smallbore champion, leading Army to its fourth team title in that event. She is just the third Black Knight to be crowned a conference champion in smallbore and the first since 2007. Buck garnered first-team All-GARC honors twice in smallbore (2011-12) and once in combined scoring (2012).