Pictured: Jeff Barber (left) with Zach Duke (middle), this year's Rock Royer/Mac Rivera Award winner and Manuel Rivera (right), brother of Mac Rivera.
Senior wide receiver Zach Duke was honored today at Liberty University's Convocation, as he was named the 2011 Rock Royer/Mac Rivera Award winner, the University's highest athletics honor. The annual award was presented to Duke by Liberty University Director of Athletics Jeff Barber and Manuel Rivera, brother of Mac Rivera. In 1975, the Rock Royer/Mac Rivera Award was established to honor the top senior student-athlete at Liberty University who best exemplifies the standards and lives of both of these great Christian men. Rock Royer was Liberty's first football coach in 1973. Mac Rivera was a member of Liberty's basketball team from 1972 until 1975. Both Rock Royer and Mac Rivera tragically died at a young age, with Royer dying in a plane crash and Rivera passing away after a fall. This award encompasses more than just athletic ability. It recognizes the Liberty University graduating senior student-athlete who has maintained an exemplary testimony on the playing field, in the classroom and among the student body. Duke has posted a 3.44 cumulative GPA through three and half years of collegiate studies, including the last two years at Liberty after transferring from Anderson. The intercultural studies major was named to the Big South Presidential Honor Roll last year and twice was honored as an all-academic team member during his days at Anderson. Duke's off-the-field activities have been some of his more notable contributions to the Liberty football program. The Bargersville, Ind., native is widely considered one of the program's most respected spiritual leaders and fully embodies the program's Whole Person Development initiative. Duke is the founder and leader of the Gridiron Football Ministries, a Bible study initiated and run by the football players. He has also been involved with such programs as the Liberty Pro-Life Organization, "The Gathering," the Watch Worship and Prayer ministries and he is the founder of Worship Out Loud. In the local community, Duke has worked as a DNOW counselor, with Campus SERVE and the Yoder Community, plus as a college pastor at Emmanuel Church. Additionally, Duke has served on numerous missions trips, as he helped spread the gospel of Jesus Christ in such locations around the world as Israel, India, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. During his two years with the football program, Duke has been a reserve wide receiver and has helped Liberty capture two of its four-straight Big South Conference championship titles. This past season, Duke saw his first playing time on the field during a historic moment in Liberty Athletics history when Liberty defeated Savannah State on Oct. 2, 2010. That evening, Liberty reopened an expanded Williams Stadium in front of a stadium record 19,313 fans. Duke finished his career as part of the winningest senior class in the 38-year history of the Liberty football program. During the past four seasons, the 2010 graduating senior class posted a combined 34-11 record and became the first senior class in program history to win eight or more games four-straight seasons. This award has now been presented for 37 years. Duke is the 42nd recipient of the Rock Royer/Mac Rivera Award and the 11th football player to be honored. A football player has been the recipient the past two years with defensive back Chris Rocco taking the honor in 2010.
Rock Royer Award 1975 - Sling Patterson (Football) 1976 - David Neff (Football) 1977 - Scott Goetz (Football)
Mac Rivera Award 1977- Paul Dalton (Men's Basketball)
Rock Royer/Mac Rivera Award 1978 - Gary Avila (Wrestling) 1979 - Dave Anderson (Football) 1980 - Karl Hess (Men's Basketball) 1981- David "D.J." Hertzler (Football) 1982- Sharon Snodgrass (Women's Basketball) 1983 - Bill Gillespie (Football/Men's Track & Field) 1984 - Rick Seilhamer (Wrestling) 1985 - Sue Andrew (Women's Cross Country/Track & Field) & Dave Bream (Baseball) 1986 - Ron Starner (Men's Soccer) 1987 - Pam Wilder (Women's Basketball) 1989 - Kathy Guetterman (Volleyball) 1990 - Lynn Attwood (Cross Country/Track & Field/Women's Basketball) 1991 - Craig Holiday (Wrestling) 1992 - Mike Coleman (Men's Basketball) 1993 - Theresa Bream (Volleyball/Women's Basketball) 1994 - James Downey (Football) & Matt Hildebrand (Men's Basketball) 1995 - Todd Setsma (Men's Golf) 1996 - Ryan Werner (Men's Track & Field) 1997 - Michael Prettyman (Men's Track & Field) 1998 - Ben Anderson (Football) 1999 - Jarrod Everson (Football) 2000 - Elena Kisseleva (Women's Basketball) 2001 - Andrea Wildrick (Women's Track & Field) &Nathan Day (Men's Basketball) 2002 - Heather Sagan (Women's Cross Country/Track & Field) 2003 - Collin Mascagni (Men's Soccer) 2004 - Tatiana Tkachuk (Volleyball) 2005 - Sam Gado (Football) & Danielle McNaney (Women's Track & Field) 2006 - Sonia Rodriguez (Women's Soccer) & Phillip Thompson (Baseball) 2007 - Arlene Zelinskas (Women's Track & Field) 2008 - Allyson Fasnacht (Women's Basketball) 2009 - Beth Bennett (Softball) 2010 - Chris Rocco (Football) 2011 - Zach Duke (Football)
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