BIRMINGHAM – Marion County High School’s Braden Pyron, Cleveland High School’s Tara Randolph and Huffman High School’s Cameron Humes were selected the overall state winners at the 34rd annual Bryant-Jordan Student Athlete Awards Banquet Monday night at the Birmingham Sheraton Hotel. A total of 104 high school regional senior honorees were recognized and awarded more than $380,000 in scholarships.
Pyron, a four-sport standout at Marion County, located at Guin, was the recipient of the Larry D. Striplin, Jr., Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award. And for the just the second time in Bryant-Jordan Program history, Randolph and Humes were named co-winners of the Ken and Betty Joy Blankenship Student Achievement Athlete of the Year Award. The first were Darren Edwards of Pell City and Johnny Thompson of Sulligent in 1992.
The program, named in honor of the late coaches Paul "Bear" Bryant of Alabama and Ralph "Shug" Jordan of Auburn, recognized 52 regional scholar-athlete winners selected for their excellence in athletics and academics and 52 achievement winners chosen for their ability to overcome major obstacles during their high school careers.
UAB head football coach Bill Clark was the guest speaker.
This year, the scholarship stipends were increased by for the 104 regional winners from $2,500 to $3,000; for the 14 Class Winners, from $3,000 to $3,500; and for the two overall winners, from $3,000 to $4,000 each. In total, the 104 Bryant-Jordan Regional Winners will each received a $3,000 scholarship; 14 Class Winners received $6,500; and the three overall Winners will each be awarded a total of $10,500 -- $325,000 overall and an increase of $65,000 over the previous scholarship payout. The initial payout in the first year of the program in 1986 was $32,000 in total.
In addition, several other individuals and organizations have also joined the Bryant-Jordan Program and present additional scholarships as well. Since the Bryant-Jordan Scholarship Program’s inception, approximately 3,000 senior student-athletes have received more than $10 million in scholarships.
Pyron became the first Class 1A scholar-athlete to receive the Larry D. Striplin, Jr., Scholar-Athlete of the Year award since Spring Garden’s Paige Anderson in 2008 and just the fourth in the Bryant-Jordan Program’s 34-year history. Emily Jo Haught of Donoho was the first in 1989 and Daniel Sullivan of Millry followed in 2004.
A multi-talented athlete who earned All-State honors in baseball, football, track and scored more than 2,300 points for his career with the Red Raiders basketball team, will graduate first in his class with a 4.25 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale, and scored a 29 on the ACT college entrance exam. He helped Marion County win a state outdoor track title in 2015, sparked the Red Raiders to the Northwest Regional basketball title and State Tourney in 2016. He has won the pole vault at the state meet and has finished second in the javelin throw. Pyron, also named the Class 1A Scholar-Athlete Award recipient, has served as team captain in football and basketball. The senior class president and 2019 Wendy’s Heisman Award state winner, has also been a leader outside sports, serving as president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, attended the National Beta Club Leadership Conference and served as a Veteran’s Day speaker in his hometown of Guin among his many service-minded endeavors.
Humes, who was diagnosed with End Stage Kidney Failure as an eighth grader, underwent numerous medical tests and procedures and was on dialysis for two years before receiving a kidney transplant in 2017. He came back to lead the Vikings basketball team in scoring this pat season and will graduate with a 4.42 grade-point average and on track to be the senior class valedictorian.
While he thanked his family, teachers and coaches and doctors, he had a special message to his kidney transplant donor. “I want thank Daniel,” he told the large crowd attending Monday night’s banquet. “He lost his life and saved mine.”
Randolph, an outstanding track and volleyball player at Cleveland, suffered through impoverished family conditions that left she and her brother homeless much of her life. “I want to thank my coaches, my principal, my counselor and my friends for not giving up on me,” she said. “And I want to especially thank my brother, who made me believe that I could accomplish anything if I just set my goals and continued to persevere.”
The 2019 Bryant-Jordan Student Achievement Award Class winners were: (1A) Dorothy Patterson, Cherokee High School; (2A) Tara Randolph, Cleveland High School; (3A) Larkin Rogers, Geraldine High School; (4A) Jayson Spencer, St. John Paul II Catholic High School; (5A) Bailey Sherman, Hamilton High School; (6A) Cameron Humes, Huffman High School; and (7A) Zavian Toney, Bob Jones High School.
The 2018 Bryant-Jordan Scholar-Athlete Award Class winners: (1A) Braden Pyron, Marion County High School; (2A) Ethan Moore, Winston County High School; (3A) Darby Moore, Clements High School; (4A) Madison Traylor, Elmore County High School; (5A) Parker Hallmark, Demopolis High School; (6A) Will Stone, Homewood High School; (7A) Sara Pacer, Auburn High School.
Several special scholarships were also presented to some of the regional winners, including: Herman L. “Bubba” Scott Coaching Scholarship: Tommy Vickers, Central-Phenix City High School; Dr. Gaylon McCollough Medical Scholarship: Julianne Hill, Madison Academy; Alabama “A” Club Educational & Charitable Foundation Scholarships: Will McKinney, Cherokee County High School and Ethan Turner, Alexandria High School; Auburn Football Lettermen Club Scholarships: Clay McAlpine, Cullman High School, and Emerson Barrett, Buckhorn High School; United Methodist Children’s Home Scholarships: Casey Williams, Millry High School and Destinee Scott, Cherokee County High School.
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