July 31, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS (NCAA/SMU) - SMU senior Blake McJunkin has been selected as the Division I male winner of the NCAA Sportsmanship Award for notable displays of sporting behavior, the governing body announced today.
McJunkin was one of five honorees representing all three membership divisions chosen for the award. Joining the SMU senior were Jessica Slagle, Bowling Green State women's basketball (Division I); the Georgian Court women's soccer team (Division II); John Sgromolo, Flagler baseball (Division II); and Erika McGuire, Rose-Hulman women's volleyball (Division III). The NCAA Committee on Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct selected the winners.
In last season's opener at Texas A&M, McJunkin did not let the emotion of the moment interfere with his instinct to protect a vulnerable opposing teammate from potential harm.
After intercepting a Mustangs' pass, Texas A&M defensive back Trent Hunter lost his helmet after being tackled by McJunkin and Kelly Turner. With Hunter's head exposed, McJunkin shielded his opponent with his arms until the play concluded.
"It was just a natural reaction," McJunkin told the Houston Chronicle. "When he lost his helmet, it was just the right thing to do, no matter the color of his jersey. I've seen people get hurt in that situation."
McJunkin's father Kirk wasn't aware of the incident until a couple of days later. "By then," he said, "Texas A&M's students and blogs were all talking about it. Honestly, it makes me extremely proud because you raise your kids hoping they do the right thing."
The next day, Aggie defensive back Hunter chimed in with praise for McJunkin on Twitter.
"(Shoutout) to SMU starting center Blake McJunkin for looking out for me when my helmet came off during the game. You're a class act, bro. Thanks!" he Tweeted.
This is another in a long list of preseason honors for McJunkin and SMU, as the Plano native is also on the Watch List for the 2012 Rimington Trophy, presented annually to the most outstanding center in college football, and was selected as the recipient of the 2012 Conference USA Sportsmanship Award in June.
In addition to McJunkin's honors, Zach Line is on the Watch Lists for the Walter Camp, Maxwell & Doak Walker Awards; Darius Johnson is on the Biletnikoff Award Watch List; and Taylor Reed is on the Lombardi list. Additionally, Margus Hunt is on the Hendricks and Lombardi lists and Ja'Gared Davis is on the Butkus list.
To see McJunkin and his Mustang teammates this season, call the SMU Ticket Office at (214) SMU-GAME (768-4263).