Unlikely Hero: HS Football Player Up for Rudy Award

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Much like the inspirational character from the famous movie "Rudy," Michael Harris has overcome tremendous odds to earn a starting position on Trimble Tech High School's varsity football team.

    "That story, I really do truly believe, is Michael," said his mother, Marie Stokes.

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    Michael Harris is one of 12 finalists for the High School Rudy Award. (Published Tuesday, Dec 28, 2010)

    Her 17-year-old son was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome as a child.

    "He fought his way on to the team, because when he first started out, he was shy, he was sort of withdrawn and didn't really get the game, " Stokes said.

    Harris went from sitting on the bench his freshman year to starting nose tackle as a senior -- not to mention maintaining a 3.2 GPA.

    "Can you see me here, just glowing?" Stokes said. "I never would have thought that, but I knew in my heart and I trusted in God that my baby would succeed."

    The single mother nominated her son for the High School Football Rudy Award, a nationwide honor that recognizes unlikely heroes on the football field.

    To her -- and his -- surprise, Harris was selected as one of 12 finalists from a field of more than 250.

    "When I found that out, I was shocked, I really was," Harris said.

    Now the shy high school senior is adjusting to life in the spotlight.

    "It really is a good feeling, like I just accomplished something," he said.

    Harris said winning the award would no doubt be his greatest accomplishment.

    His mother said it would be hers, too.

    "It has always been my dream for my son to have a college degree," she said.

    The winner of the award receives a $10,000 college scholarship.

    The winner will be determined by an online poll at the award's website. Voting ends Jan. 17.

    More: High School Football Rudy Awards