ReliaQuest Presents Make It Possible Player Awards

December 31, 2023

ReliaQuest Presents Make It Possible Player Awards

By Joey Johnston

LSU linebacker Greg Penn III and Wisconsin tight end Hayden Rucci were selected Friday as winners of the ReliaQuest Bowl's "Make It Possible'' awards, given annually to a member of each participating squad as voted on by their teammates.

The LSU Tigers (9-3) will meet the Wisconsin Badgers (7-5) on Monday for a noon kickoff at Raymond James Stadium in the bowl's 38th edition. It will be carried by ESPN2.

When ReliaQuest founder and chief executive Brian Murphy agreed to a multi-year title sponsorship deal with the bowl in 2022, he wanted to honor players who exemplified the values of his company, a Tampa-based cybersecurity firm.

"We are known for 'Making Security Possible' and we have to be constantly performing at our highest level because there are constant threats of attack in our world of cybersecurity,'' Murphy said. "We think it's important to have teammates say who they truly appreciate. Who is the person with the right attitude, energy and effort that lifts the team up and makes success possible?

"It's a great opportunity for us to recognize a player on each team who is the first one at practice, the last to leave, the one who drives the team to a consistent performance. The best reward you can get is when your peers recognize your effort. So these awards are very meaningful in that way.''

Penn, a 6-foot-2, 235-pound senior from Baltimore, started all 12 games at linebacker, registering 83 tackles, 5.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks and two interceptions. A sports administration major, Penn was described by teammates as "a dedicated student, a

difference-maker in the community and a model teammate who has an infectious attitude that permeates through the program.''

"To have the guys in the locker room thinking highly of me like that, it means a lot,'' Penn said. "Every day, I try to go out and be a leader and help my teammates any way I can. Sometimes, it's verbal. Sometimes, it's leading by example. But I always want to be the guy who's setting the right example for everyone.''

Rucci, a 6-4, 253-pound senior from Lititz, Pa., led Wisconsin tight ends with 10 receptions for 112 yards. He was named four times to the Big Ten Conference All-Academic team and has earned his degree in real state and urban land economics from the Wisconsin School of Business.

"Getting an award like this is a great honor, especially because it's voted on by your teammates,'' Rucci said. "I've been at this program for five years and Wisconsin means the world to me. It has become a second home for me, especially with my brother being here too (Nolan Rucci is a Wisconsin offensive lineman) and I'm super excited to get out there on New Year's Day and play this game against LSU.''

Murphy said he loves meeting young people such as Penn and Rucci because it provides encouragement for the future. Murphy said he feels both players subscribe to his company's mantra of A.E.E. - Attitude, Energy and Effort - that he believes represents the cornerstone of any successful team or organization.

"Those are our values,'' Murphy said. "We're going to be accountable. We're going to be helpful. We're going to be adaptable and focused as an organization. Effort is always the great equalizer. No matter the odds, you can generally outwork most things.

"Some team members have the ability to see the big picture and they always want more. That's what the teammates of Greg Penn and Hayden Rucci saw in them and we couldn't be more proud to recognize and honor them for those outstanding qualities.''