Alabama’s Derrick Henry Named Semi-Finalist for AAU James E. Sullivan Award
Just six weeks away from the NFL Draft, Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry (Yulee, Fla.) is chasing another prestigious award. The No. 2 rated running back in this year’s draft class is among the seven finalists vying for the AAU James E. Sullivan Award, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) announced today.
In his first full season as the full-time starter at Alabama, Henry led the Crimson Tide to the 2016 College Football National Championship. Behind a Southeastern Conference (SEC) record 2,061 yards rushing, Henry was selected as the SEC Offensive Player of the Year, Walter Camp Player of the Year and the Doak Walker and Maxwell Award winner. He added Offensive MVP honors in the SEC Championship game after rushing for 189 yards and one touchdown in the Crimson Tide’s 25th SEC Championship. Henry was just the third running back in SEC history (Herschel Walker and Bo Jackson) to record four 200-yard games in a single season and set a school record with 11 consecutive games with a rushing touchdown.
Henry could become the second consecutive running back to claim the award, as Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott claimed the award after leading the Buckeyes to the first-ever College Football Playoff National Championship in 2015.
“Being a finalist for the AAU James E. Sullivan Award is a unique privilege for all our finalists,” said Melissa Willis, AAU Sullivan Award National Chair. “Our six finalists this year embody the extraordinary success and high character athlete this award was created to honor.”
The AAU Sullivan Award has been presented annually since 1930 to the most outstanding amateur athlete in the United States. Representatives from the AAU created the Sullivan Award with the intent to recognize amateur contributions and achievements from non-professional athletes across the country.
World renowned golfer Robert “Bobby” Jones received the inaugural award in 1930 and swimmer Anne Curtis became the first female to accept the award in 1944. Other notable athletes to win the award include famed Olympians Mark Spitz (1971), Carl Lewis (1981), Jackie Joyner-Kersee (1986) and Michael Phelps (2003). Former UCLA basketball star Bill Walton (1973) and University of Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning (1997) have also earned the prestigious honor.
"As one of the largest multi-sport organizations in the nation, this award is really the epitome of what the AAU represents,” said Dr. Roger Goudy, President/CEO of the AAU. "Part of the mission of the AAU is to provide a venue for amateur athletes to promote good sportsmanship and good citizenship. Each of our six finalists – and the winners that came before them – truly embodies that mission.”
Joining Henry as a finalist for the 86th AAU Sullivan Award is Breanna Stewart (UCONN basketball), Keenan Reynolds (Navy football), Mikaela Foecke (Nebraska volleyball), Jordan Burroughs (USA Wrestling), Brittany Bowe (US Speedskating) and Simone Biles (USA Gymnastics).
Voting is open to the public at www.aausullivan.org. Finalist voting opens today and will close on March 23. The AAU James E. Sullivan Award presentation will be held at the New York Athletic Club on Sunday, April 10.