Chiefs third-round pick Jon Asamoah took home the prestigious Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor last night at the Illinois Scholar-Athlete Awards Reception.
The Medal of Honor is awarded annually at each conference school to a male and female senior student-athlete who demonstrates proficiency in scholarship and athletics. The award was first endowed in 1914 and has become the top annual award the University of Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics bestows.
Asamoah is the second football player to earn the Medal of Honor in the last three years, joining J Leman, who was honored in 2008. Asamoah, a four-year starting offensive guard, was a second-team All-Big Ten selection in 2009 and part of an offensive line that finished in the top-20 in rushing offense three times in his four seasons. In 2006 and 2007 the Illinois offensive line led the Big Ten in rushing, topped the league in passing in 2008 and finished second in the conference in rushing in 2009. The Park Forest, Ill., native also twice earned All-America honors, second-team by The Sporting News and Pro Football Weekly.
Even more impressive than his accomplishments on the field, however, is Asamoah’s involvement with the community and success in the classroom. He is very involved in the Illini Leadership Academy and Illinois’ Hometown Heroes program, which includes visits to local elementary schools and senior centers. Asamoah also was selected to participate in the NCAA Student-Athlete Development Conference in 2008. In the classroom, Asamoah earned a bachelor’s degree in applied health sciences/community health in December 2009 and is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and Dean’s List member. He also was named a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete and Academic All-District in 2009, and earned the Outstanding Scholar-Athlete Award, given to a male and female letterwinner with the highest grade-point average in each class of school.
Football coach Ron Zook said this of Asamoah, “Jon was a phenomenal member of the Illini football team during his four years at the University of Illinois. Not only was he an exceptional talent on the field, but his character is unmatched. He was always a strong leader on the team, and while quiet in his demeanor, Jon commanded respect of his teammates.”
Not that we needed any more proof, but if this doesn’t scream “the right 53”, I don’t know what does.
For someone to handle the responsibilities of being a Division 1 athlete, contribute in the community and still manage to graduate early will always impress me. I was just a normal student with a much easier course load than Asamoah and it would have been a challenge to graduate a semester ahead of schedule.