Monday, December 13, 2010

Slippery Rock's Brandon Fusco wins Upshaw Award

SRU senior offensive center Brandon Fusco was named Monday as the 2010 recipient of the Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year Award presented by the Manheim (Pa.) Touchdown Club

MANHEIM, Pa. – The Manheim Touchdown Club announced Monday that Slippery Rock University senior offensive center Brandon Fusco has been selected as the recipient of the 2010 Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year Award.

As the seventh recipient of the Upshaw Award, Fusco will receive a trophy and an automatic invitation to participate in both the East/West Shrine (Jan. 23 in Orlando, Fla.) and NFLPA Game (Feb. 5 in San Antonio, Texas) postseason all-star games.

“Being named as the winner of an award named in honor of Mr. Upshaw, a great man and an outstanding football player, as the top Division II lineman in the nation is a sincere honor and one of which I am tremendously proud,” Fusco said upon learning of his selection. “It is one for which I was honored to be considered and truly never expected to receive.”

Slippery Rock University Head Football Coach George Mihalik echoed those sentiments.

“To have an outstanding young man I have had the pleasure of coaching for the last five years be named as the Upshaw Award winner with all the prestige and tradition that goes with that name and the award itself is truly an honor for which we are proud,” Mihalik said. “Brandon is truly deserving of the recognition. Everyone associated with Rock Football is very proud of and happy for him.”

Fusco received 29 first-place and 30 second-place votes and received a top-four vote on 79 of the 101 ballots cast by sports information directors at NCAA Division II football-playing institutions.

Colorado School of Mines senior defensive tackle Marc Schiechl was the second-place finisher, with University of North Alabama defensive end Courtney Harris and Northwest Missouri State University offensive guard Brett Grozinger finishing in third and fourth places, respectively.

Other national finalists included Grand Valley State University senior offensive tackle Cameron Bradfield, Elizabeth City State University senior defensive end Malcolm Jenkins, Morehouse College senior defensive lineman Derrin Nettles and Abilene Christian University senior offensive tackle Trevis Turner.

A 6-foot-5, 310-pound native of Cranberry Township and graduate of Seneca Valley High School, Fusco earned first-team Preseason All-America honors last summer from The Sporting News, Consensus Draft Services, D2Football.com and D2PRODAY.com and three first-team All-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference-Western Division honors during his career. Last week, he was also invited to participate in this year’s Cactus Bowl, Division II all-star football game in Kingsville, Texas.

A year ago, in addition to being named to first-team all-conference status, Fusco received second-team All-America postseason honors from Don Hansen's Football Gazette, first-team all-region honors from the Football Gazette and Daktronics Inc. and finished third in the Super Region One Upshaw Award voting.

A third-team Football Gazette all-region selection as a sophomore in 2008, Fusco served two seasons (2009 and 2010) as a Rock team captain and was the team's 2009 Offensive MVP. He was in the starting lineup for all 44 Rock games since 2007, a rare accomplishment, especially for an offensive lineman.

This fall, Fusco was the foundation of a Rock offensive line that opened holes for redshirt sophomore running back Akeem Satterfield, the No. 1 scorer/No. 2 rusher in the PSAC and the No. 3 scorer/No. 5 rusher in the nation.

About the Upshaw Award:

The Manheim Touchdown Club of Lancaster, Pa. sponsors the Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year Award and is named in honor for the late Gene Upshaw. Mr. Upshaw was a standout offensive lineman first as an NCAA Division II student athlete at then Texas A&I University (now Texas A&M-Kingsville) and later in the National Football League with the Oakland Raiders. A perennial All-Pro offensive guard for the Raiders, Mr. Upshaw was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987, his first year of eligibility. He appeared in six Pro Bowls, was named Lineman of the Year in the AFC in 1973 and 1974, the top lineman in the NFL in 1977 and was the runner-up for that honor in 1980. Mr. Upshaw is the only player in NFL history to play in three Super Bowls in three different decades – in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. He also served as an NFLPA player representative and officer for 13 years and was a member of the executive committee from 1976-80 when he was elected president of the NFLPA. He remained the Players Association president until 1983, when he was named the group’s executive director. Mr. Upshaw served in that capacity until his death in August 2008.

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