NEW YORK — A whirlwind 48 hours for Oklahoma offensive lineman Gabe Ikard ended with one of the biggest honors of his storied Sooners’ career.
Ikard, a three-time All-Big 12 selection and OU’s starting center, helped his team win its rivalry showdown at Oklahoma State on Saturday, found out Sunday that he’d end his collegiate career in a Sugar Bowl matchup against Alabama and on Monday, he was led into a downstairs room at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City where he was announced as the winner of the 2013 Wuerffel Trophy. The award presented annually by the All-Sports Association of Fort Walton Beach to the college football player who best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement.
“This is a tremendous honor, just overwhelming,” said Ikard, a senior from Oklahoma City. “When you consider all that this trophy represents from academic achievement to athletic achievement along with community service, I think this definitely ranks up there as the biggest honor I’ve received.
“Coach (Bob) Stoops consistently preaches to us about being active in the community and being dedicated in the classroom, and to receive this honor is unbelievable. I’ve been fortunate to have been given an amazing platform as a student athlete, and I’m proud to be standing here today.”
The Wuerffel Trophy was created in 2005. Past winners include Florida QB Tim Tebow, Texas defensive lineman Sam Acho, Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones and USC quarterback Matt Barkley, last year’s winner. Ikard is the first Sooner and third offensive lineman to win the award.
Ikard was told of his award by Wuerffel himself, who met the Sooner offensive lineman in New York City on Monday afternoon. Ikard is currently in New York to receive recognition as a top scholar athlete from the National Football Foundation, and Wuerffel, the 1996 Heisman Trophy winner who led the Florida Gators to a national championship, is currently in New York to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame tonight. Others in attendance at Monday’s meeting included Oklahoma Athletic Director Joe Castiglione and Wuerffel Trophy Director Tom Brassell.
“I’m thrilled that Gabe is the 2013 winner of the Wuerffel Trophy,” said Wuerffel. “His success on the field and in the classroom along with his countless hours of sacrificial service make him an ideal recipient. He stands for everything the trophy is about, and he’ll be an excellent addition to the fraternity of former winners.”
Ikard, a finalist for the award in 2012, was chosen as the 2013 winner for a litany of reasons, including his tireless community service. A 2013 Big Man on Campus at Oklahoma, Ikard serves on the OU leadership team for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, was lauded by the school for his leadership in responding to the tragic Oklahoma City tornado disaster earlier this year and made a life-changing relief trip to earthquake-stricken Haiti in 2012.
In the classroom, Ikard graduated with special distinction in May with a 4.0 grade point average in Biological Sciences, a major he chose as a prelude to pursuing a medical degree. On the field, Ikard has 27 career starts at center and was named a midseason all-American by Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports and USA Today. He leads the blocking for an Oklahoma team ranked second in rushing in the Big 12.
“When I spoke with Danny Wuerffel earlier, I told him that they could not have picked a better person for this award,” said Castiglione, Oklahoma’s athletic director since 1998. “Gabe is the personification of leadership. From the moment he stepped on campus, he has always been an example of what a student-athlete should be. He’s always the first to raise his hand when asked to do community service and he’s been a tremendous representative for the University of Oklahoma.”
Ikard will be presented with the Wuerffel trophy at the All Sports Association’s annual banquet on Feb. 7.
To view the photos from the Monday Night Dinner, click HERE