Auburn linebacker Ashton Richardson was recognized Friday evening as the winner of the 2012 Bobby Bowden Award, presented by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision player who best epitomizes a student-athlete.
The award is named for former Florida State University football coach Bobby Bowden, and conceived by former Bowden assistant coach Vince Gibson, who died in 2012 from Lou Gehrig's disease, and Vernon Brinson, who played for Coach Bowden at South Georgia College in the 1950s. The award is sponsored by Jon Khachaturian, owner of Versabar, "The Power of Engineering Delivered."
"It's definitely humbling to receive this award, especially since it is named for a man like Coach Bobby Bowden," Richardson said. "Our campus and community pastors have been great mentors to me during my time at Auburn, and the Auburn family has always been supportive of me in my faith journey, as well as in academics and athletics. This is a tremendous honor."
Richardson, a four-year letterman at Auburn, graduated in December with a 3.95 GPA in animal science, and plans to attend veterinary school. A Rhodes Scholar finalist, Richardson was a three-time member of the all-SEC academic honor roll and a semifinalist for the National Football Foundation's William Campbell Trophy. He has volunteered each week for the past four years as a mentor at the Lee County Youth Development Center. The New Orleans, La., product was a part of the 2010 national championship, 2010 SEC championship, and 2009 Outback, 2010 BCS and 2011 Chick-fil-A champion bowl teams.
"The Bobby Bowden Award was created to honor a student-athlete who serves as a faith model on campus, in the classroom, in the community and on the football field. Ashton Richardson epitomizes everything this award was created to recognize," said Auburn director of athletics Jay Jacobs. "It is gratifying to see such a humble, deserving and truly outstanding young man be honored with such an important award."
"Ashton is an outstanding individual and I think the world of him," said Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn. "He always stood out to me with his dedication and work ethic. You could tell he would be successful in life. Ashton is a positive role model to everyone he encounters and will continue to make a positive impact on society in his future endeavors. I'm very happy for Ashton to be receiving the Bobby Bowden Award. It couldn't be given to a better person. We're proud of the way he represents Auburn football and the Auburn family."
The award was presented by Coach Bowden at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes reception at the BCS national championship site in Miami on Friday evening. University of Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley and Ohio State University defensive end John Simon were the other two 2012 finalists from among 19 semifinalists.
In order to be nominated for the Bobby Bowden Award, a player must conduct himself as a faith role model in the classroom, on the field, on the campus and in the community. Nominees must have at least a 3.0 grade point average and have the backing of their school's athletics director and head football coach.