Purdue basketball star JaJuan Johnson and football standout Ryan Kerrigan have been named co-recipients of the prestigious Varsity Walk Award, given annually to the outstanding senior who has participated as a varsity athlete and brought national recognition to Purdue.
Bob Verplank, a 1957 Purdue graduate, was the originator of the idea of Varsity Walk. It was the project of the Purdue Reamer Club spring pledge class of 1956. The walk was located in the Purdue Mall with the Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering buildings to the south and the Physics and Chem-Met buildings to the north. An awards tower listing all the recipients stands at the northwest corner of the Materials and Electrical Engineering buildings.
Johnson and Kerrigan were both named consensus All-Americans in their respective sport in 2010-11, marking the first time since 1980 that Purdue had produced a consensus selection in both basketball and football.
Johnson was named the 17th consensus All-American in program history, and the first since Glenn Robinson in 1994, after finishing the season as the lone player in Division I with 1,900 points, 850 rebounds, and 250 blocks for his career. He also became the first Purdue player to win the Pete Newell Big Man Award, presented annually by the NABC to the nation’s top post player as voted by its membership.
The Indianapolis native was tabbed Big Ten Player of the Year after leading the league in scoring in conference play with an average of 20.7 points per game, also marking the first time a Boilermaker had done so since Robinson in 1994. Johnson’s corresponding first-team All-Big Ten selection was his second, and his third All-Big Ten nod overall. He also took home Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors and was named to the Big Ten All-Defensive Team after pacing the league in blocked shots (2.5).
Johnson also ranked third in total rebounds (8.3), defensive rebounds (6.1) and free throw percentage (.876), fifth in offensive rebounds (2.3), 11th in steals (0.9) and 14th in field goal percentage (.482) in Big Ten games.
He posted 12 double-doubles during the season, and led the conference with 22 20-point scoring games on the year. He also finished his career on a streak of 43-consecutive games with double-figure points, the fifth-longest streak in program history.
Johnson’s selection marks the second year in a row in which the men’s basketball program has earned at least a share of the Varsity Walk Award, as the 2010 award went to former Boilermaker standout Chris Kramer.
Kerrigan, who was named the Big Ten Defensive Player and Lineman of the Year, wrapped up his final season in the Old Gold and Black as the national leader in tackles for loss (26.0) and third among all Football Bowl Subdivision players in sacks (12.5). He finished fifth for Purdue with a career-high 70 total tackles, the most by a defensive lineman in the Big Ten in 2010, and recorded five fumbles forced to improve his career mark to 14, a figure that ties for the most in FBS history.
He was named the first unanimous All-American football player at Purdue in 30 years after garnering first team recognition from the American Football Coaches Association, the Walter Camp Football Foundation, the Football Writers Association of America, the Associated Press and The Sporting News.
Kerrigan finished with at least one sack in nine of the Boilermakers' 12 games, at least one tackle for loss in 11 of 12 and multiple TFLs in eight games. He ended his career fifth in Purdue history with 57 TFLs and tied for second with 33.5 sacks.