June 28, 2012
IRVING (C-USA) - SMU center Blake McJunkin has been selected as the recipient of the 2012 Conference USA Sportsmanship Award, C-USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky announced today. The conference sportsmanship award is presented to student-athletes, coaches or teams that perform an individual act of sporting behavior or generally conduct themselves with a high degree of good sportsmanship.
McJunkin exemplified the spirit of sportsmanship during the Mustangs' Sept. 4, 2011, game against Texas A&M when he protected the head of defensive back Trent Hunter after Hunter's helmet came off during an interception return. When Hunter's helmet was lost as McJunkin and fellow offensive lineman Kelly Turner combined for the tackle, McJunkin instinctively shielded his opponent's exposed head with his arms to protect him from additional contact.
"It was just a natural reaction," McJunkin told the Houston Chronicle. "When he lost his helmet, it was just the right thing to do, no matter the color of his jersey. I've seen people get hurt in that situation."
He spent the remainder of the night and then a Monday drive home to Dallas from College Station, Texas, with his father Kirk, a former Pittsburgh Steeler, yet never mentioned his selfless act. It wasn't until a friend of Kirk's sent him a link to the play that his father realized what his son had done.
"On Tuesday morning, someone sent me a link to the play and told me to watch it," McJunkin's father told Britton Lynn of Scout.com. "By then Texas A&M's students and blogs were all talking about it, which means that Blake never told a word to me about it until I brought it up. He was pretty humble about it. Honestly, it makes me extremely proud because you raise your kids hoping they do the right thing."
The act was not lost on Hunter, who sent a message of thanks via his Twitter page the following Wednesday.
"Shout out to SMU starting center Blake McJunkin for looking out for me when my helmet came off during the game. Your (sic) a class act bro. Thanks!" Hunter tweeted.
McJunkin is eligible for the NCAA Sportsmanship Award which will be selected later this year.
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