Small-School DE Gets Annual Cliff Harris Award

Frisco, Texas – The Cowboys Pro Football Hall of Fame Cliff Harris presented the annual Cliff Harris Award, given to the Small College Defensive Player of the Year, to the seven previous winners of the Little Rock Touchdown Club.

But this year due to scheduling conflicts and after the 2020 season stopped COVID, Harris brought the awards show to The Star in Frisco, Texas, and handed the 35-pound, $3,000 sculpted trophy to Sam Roberts, 6-5, 292-pound defensive end of the Division II North Western Missouri.

The 14-man panel, made up of Cowboys Hall of Famers Roger Staubach, Drew Pearson, Rayfield Wright, Mel Renfro, Gil Brandt, and Harris, along with notable former Cowboys players such as Lee Roy Jordan, Everson Walls and Charlie Waters and former assistant coach. and Alabama National Championship head coach Jane Stallings, about 135 nominees from Division II and III schools and the NAIA were screened out, basing the award not only on sporting achievements but also on character, design standards after the likes of the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year award and Jason Witten Best of the Year award. player of the year.

said Harris, who was signed by the Cowboys as an undeveloped freelancer in 1970 from a junior Ouachita Baptist in Ark Philadelphia, Ark. , “Sam really showed ferocity and intensity,” which did well in the NFL. “I’m really proud (of the award) and really proud that it does what I wanted to do, you have a guy like Sam Roberts who will not only bring recognition today for winning this award but he will achieve a lot of recognition once he gets into the Hall of Fame after retirement wherever he plays (followed by laughter) because I know He would be a great player.”

Roberts was a first-team player for the AFCA, DCCA All-American, and AP All-American for the second team. From Waynesville, Missouri, Roberts also named National District 3 Defensive Player of the Year and MIAA Conference Player of the Year while playing with the No. 4 (11-2) seeded Bearcats and their No. 2 ranked defense.

“I want to thank everyone who contributed to my selection for this award,” said Roberts, who worked in his spare time in college as a certified nurse assistant at Barkdale Manor in Maryville with seniors. “I want to thank Mr. Cliff personally for seeing my talent on the field. I want to thank my mum (Tonya) for coming out. I want to thank my family and friends, without them I wouldn’t be where I am today. They have played such a big role in my life.”

“And I want to thank my sports department, the coaches at my school who put me on this award that I didn’t even know about. They did it without my knowledge.”

Ironically, Roberts actually won the award without knowing it. While preparing to fly from Maryville, Missouri, to Las Vegas to begin training for the NFL draft, Roberts accidentally left his phone in his car that was being driven to Nevada. So, when Northwest Missouri State coach Rich Wright called to tell him the award, he left a message that Roberts didn’t listen to until four days later.

Thank goodness for social media. Meanwhile, fellow Northwest member Kobe Claiborne sent a congratulations on Snapchat and then saw his Twitter account explode.

“I had no idea I’d won it or anything,” said Roberts, who previously played in the Hula Bowl and East-West Shrine and will be entering Pro Day practice at the University of Missouri on March 25. “My mom finally came home and said you won the prize. It was a crazy feeling.”

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