LUBBOCK, Texas – Texas Tech head strength and conditioning coach Rusty Whitt was named a finalist Thursday for the 2018 Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).
This is the second time in Whitt's tenure has been named a finalist for the award, which is presented annually to the individual and/or a group who has created, developed and produced a program within the realm of the sport of football that provides care, concern and support for past or present members of the United States Armed Forces and/or their families. He was also a finalist in 2016.
Whitt is joined among finalists by Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun, Robert Morris University president Dr. Chris Howard, UNLV defensive back Darren Palmer and Shenandoah University wide receiver Casey Stewart. Athletes of Valor, an organization that works with active duty military and veterans to help them get recruited to college and play sports, is also a finalist as a program.
Whitt, a veteran of the United States Army, is in his third season on the Texas Tech staff as he joined the program prior to the 2016 season. He has also served stints at Louisiana-Lafayette, Rice, Midwestern State and Texas during his career.
Whitt resumed his coaching career at Rice following six-plus years as a Senior Special Forces Communication Sergeant in the 10th Special Forces Group. Whitt was a member of the U.S. Army from Aug. 2003-Jan. 2009 where during that time, he deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) V and VI.
During his military career, Whitt developed and initiated a comprehensive pre-deployment conditioning program for his Special Forces Team prior to and during OIF V and VI. He received a combat infantry badge, two Iraqi campaign medals and an Army commendation medal with valor for his service.
Since arriving at Texas Tech last January, Whitt has coordinated with local military organizations to bring local ROTC units to offseason workouts. Tech has also participated in the 22 Pushup Challenge and the Fallen Ruck March during his tenure.
The 2016 recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award will be announced Nov. 8 (Veteran's Day). The award is chosen by a committee made up of five FWAA members and two representatives of the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.