Andrew Rupcich zestfully devoured the full meal that was his 2019 football season at Culver-Stockton College.
The McHenry West graduate was named to the American Football Coaches Association-NAIA All-America first team and the All-Heart of America Athletic Conference North Division first team after he helped the Wildcats go 6-5, their first winning record since 2014.
On Friday, Rupcich got his dessert to go with that feast.
Rupcich was receiving treatment in C-SC’s training room about 4:15 p.m. Friday when he learned from Twitter that he had won the Piesman Trophy, given by the website BannerSociety.com to the college lineman who did the most un-lineman-like thing during the season. Rupcich is the first NAIA player to win the award, which was started in 2015.
Rupcich, a 6-foot-7, 305 pound junior left tackle, found out two weeks ago he was one of 13 finalists and knew last week he had made the top three. Rupcich’s play was unique to other linemen because he threw a 44-yard pass after catching a lateral. It put the Wildcats on the 1-yard line, and they scored on the next play.
“It’s been a heck of a year,” Rupcich said. “It’s been really fun. I don’t think I could top it any more than that, a single year with all the accomplishments I’ve gotten for it.”
Rupcich soon will receive his Piesman Trophy, and the website will have a lunch at C-SC. It also will make donations to a local food pantry.
“We’re excited,” Wildcats coach Tom Sallay said. “Rupe is pretty pumped. It’s a fun award to get. He was a little more excited about the All-American award; he worked pretty hard for that for a long time. Being able to win the Piesman is a pretty cool thing. It will be a great conversation starter when he goes in for job interviews.”
The play happened against Benedictine in a game Sept. 28. Quarterback Korbin Marcum rolled right and threw the lateral across the field to Rupcich, who took a few steps toward the right, then backpedaled to set up for the throw. He caught the ball, took a step and fired a strike to wide receiver Brody Hassel, who was pushed out of bounds at the 1.
The video blew up, and Rupcich became something of an internet sensation.
Bannersociety.com advertises the Piesman Trophy as “college football’s greatest award.” The site started the award as something fun to recognize outstanding plays by offensive and defensive linemen.
“We have to figure out how to have [Rupcich] do something different next year to win it back-to-back,” Sallay said. “We’re already drawing up plays for next year.”