Sunday, January 23, 2011

NFL Names Five Finalist for 2010 High School Coach of the Year Award

by Jeff Fisher
High School Football America

I like to live by the saying that you shouldn't forget where you came from.

The same can be said for the NFL players, who nominated their high school football coaches for the 2010 NFL High School Football Coach of the Year Award. This year 50 players recognized the coaches who shaped them during their teenage years.

This weekend, the NFL released the names of the five coaches who are finalists for the honor.

Here are the finalists and the NFL players who nominated them:

Rich Albonizio (Greenwich HS - Greenwich, CT) - John Sullivan, Minnesota Vikings
Mark Guandolo (Cypress Bay HS - Hollywood, CA) - Jon Beason, Carolina Panthers
Thom McDaniels (Solon HS - Massillon, OH) - Mario Manningham, NY Giants
Doug Morris (San Lorenzo HS - Felton, CA) - Andy Levitre, Buffalo Bills
John Sprague (Riveriew HS - Sarasota, FL) - David Bass, San Francisco 49ers & Drew Miller, St. Louis Rams

"Our players come from different backgrounds, regions and life experiences," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "The one thing they all have in common is that they received guidance and learned important life lessons from their high school coaches. These five finalists have dedicated their lives to teaching young players how to become leaders both on and off the field, and we congratulate them and all high school coaches for the roles they play in helping develop the leaders of our game."

n his nomination essay, John Sullivan of the Vikings recalled learning his work ethic from Coach Albonizio, writing "Coach taught me that nothing comes without hard work."

The Panthers' Jon Beason noted Coach Guandolo's influence away from the football field. "It's not about making you great football players, but better men, fathers & husbands," he wrote.

Mario Manningham of the Giants learned fortitude from Coach McDaniels. "[He] always told me that 'Only the strong survive,'" wrote Manningham. "I have always carried that mentality with me throughout college and now in my professional career."

Coach Doug Morris inspired the Buffalo Bills' Andy Levitre. "Coach Morris is a great motivator and a great person," he wrote. "He knows how to bring out the best in his students and players."

Both David Baas of the San Francisco 49ers and Drew Miller of the St. Louis Rams nominated their former coach, John Sprague.

Baas remembered that "Coach Sprague always cared about how players were doing in every aspect of their lives."

Miller acknowledged Sprague's role in his development, writing "I wouldn't be where I am today without him. He is a great man who impacts young kids' lives in a positive way."

Each finalist receives a $2,500 cash award and a $5,000 grant for their high school football programs. The winner, announced this week, will attend the 2011 Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium as a guest of the NFL and receive a $5,000 cash award and a $10,000 grant for his high school football program. All grants will be awarded by the NFL Youth Football Fund.

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