PAT TILLMAN AWARD
Pat Tillman was a professional football player who walked away from the game after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 to join the U.S. Army and fight for our country.
A stand-out at Arizona State University, Tillman was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year as a senior before being drafted by the Arizona Cardinals. After just three years in the NFL, Tillman turned down a multi-million dollar contract offer from the Cardinals to enlist in the U.S. Army.
Tillman served multiple tours of duty, including Operation Iraqi Freedom, before he was killed during a mission in Afghanistan in 2004.
The East-West Shrine Game® Pat Tillman Award is presented to a player who best exemplifies character, intelligence, sportsmanship and service. The award is about a student-athlete's achievements and conduct, both on and off the field.
2015 PAT TILLMAN AWARD RECIPIENT
Jake Ryan, University of Michigan
As a four-year starter at University of Michigan, Jake Ryan has been impressive, playing in 46 games, named two-time team captain and to the All-Big Ten first team – recognizing his leadership and athletic abilities on the football field. Earning the East-West Shrine Game Pat Tillman Award, Ryan has been recognized for his character as well. Annually presented at a banquet the evening before the game, the award is presented to the player who best exemplifies intelligence, sportsmanship and service.
Upon hearing of the award, Greg Mattison, Michigan defensive coordinator and linebackers coach said, “This award is a tremendous honor and Jake is very deserving of this recognition. His character this week leading up to the East-West Shrine Game is the same character he exemplified his entire career at the University of Michigan, and that is why we are confident he will have tremendous success at the next level."
Ryan has been one of the Wolverine’s most consistent stars for his entire college career—recording 267 tackles including 45.5 for loss, 9.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles. In 2014, he led Michigan with 112 tackles, was a Dick Butkus Award finalist for the nation’s top linebacker, and earned the Schembechler Most Valuable Player Award (Michigan’s MVP.)
Ryan started his Shrine Game experience with a visit to Shriners Hospitals for Children-Tampa where he played with patients and their siblings on the basketball court, pushing them on swings, getting their faces painted and dancing. He spent the week practicing with his East teammates under head coach and Pro Football Hall of Famer, Mike Singletary, impressing scouts from NFL teams.
“I am truly humbled to receive this award,” said Ryan. “What makes it more special is the person for whom it is named. Pat Tillman is an American hero who turned down millions of dollars to protect our country. This award honors Pat’s courage, passion for the game, and his willingness to help others. It is an honor to be mentioned in the same sentence.”
The presentation of the 2015 award was particularly poignant since Kevin Ramsey, Pat Tillman’s last position coach at the Arizona Cardinals and a defensive coach for the Shrine Game, spoke about Tillman and introduced Ryan at the banquet.