What a rush...er

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December 05, 2006

Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis, son of WWE Legend Joe Laurinaitis (known to WWE fans as Road Warrior Animal), has been awarded the 2006 Bronko Nagurski Trophy in a vote by the Football Writers Association of America.

The prestigious award is given to the most outstanding defensive football player at the NCAA Division I level. As a sophomore linebacker for the Buckeyes, Laurinaitis compiled an astounding 100 tackles, five interceptions and four sacks.

"It's amazing… and to think, he was just hoping to start at the beginning of the year," exclaimed his proud father. "He called me from the airport and said, ‘Dad, you'll never believe it, but I won the Bronko
Nagurski.' "

Along with being named an AP All-American and a Walter Camp First Team All-American, he was also named Second Team Academic All-American.

"He has finals," Joe said, "so he had to prepare for them instead of accepting his trophy."

Past recipients of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy include Warren Sapp, Champ Bailey and Charles Woodson, who have all found success in the NFL. But Joe credits the role models James encountered in WWE as a major influence on his work ethic and current successes. 

"[My son] grew up around the business. JBL ribbed him when Ohio State lost to Texas when James was a freshman," he said. "This year they had to eat crow because the Buckeyes spanked Texas."

Ron "Faarooq" Simmons, another of James' childhood heroes, was also a Walter Camp All-American while at Florida State University.

"It's pretty cool that Faarooq -- someone James idolized in the wrestling ring -- also won the same award; it was pretty cool and exciting for James," said his father.

While the future looks especially bright for the young Buckeye, his father knows the importance of keeping his sights zeroed in on success.

"James is getting to the point of his own celebrity status as a college football star," Joe said, "but he'll know how to handle it; he's got his head on straight and he's a very humble kid."

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