FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Those who know Trimble Tech high school senior Michael Harris say he’s a combination of Big Mike from the popular 2009 film “The Blind Side” and the namesake of the much-lauded “Rudy.”
But Harris has his own inspirational story of overcoming obstacles from Asperger’s Syndrome.
Harris is 17. He can bench-press 275 pounds, which is one of the reasons classmates call him Big Mike.
“They call him Big Mike after the Blind Side came out too – after the main character on there,” said his coach Dave Poggensee.
Harris is shy like the movie’s Michael Oher, but not because of his upbringing. Harris has Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism marked by difficulties in social interactions.
“But once I get used to people, I really come out. Like, once I really get to know them,” Harris said.
Harris, who has a 3.1 Grade Point Average, has overcome developmental delays and is now being compared to another hero and has been nominated for an award.
“It’s called the High School Rudy Award,” Harris said. The Rudy Award is a way to honor players who may not have the stats, but make up for it with the most dedication for the game.
“Mike’s probably got one of the biggest hearts you’d meet of any kid,” Poggensee said.
Harris’ big play came the day he sacked the division champion’s quarterback. Harris still remembers it. “I was amazed,” he said.
Poggensee said, “He didn’t do a dance after he made the sack. He just got back to the huddle ready for the next play.”
Harris’ next goal is college. Winning the Rudy Award means a scholarship may come with it. The winner receives a $10,000 academic scholarship to the college of their choice. Two runners-up receive $5,000 each.
Harris’ mother, Marie Stokes, is the one who nominated him.
“We’re praying we get it. But it would be a big help for his college tuition,” she said.
Harris said the award would reflect the hard work he put in to get so far.
“If I get it, it would really be a blessing,” Harris said.
Harris was one of 50 candidates nominated for the High School Rudy Award across the United States. He was the only one nominated from North Texas. The Rudy Award winner will be selected through an online vote, which ends Dec. 28. Click here for more information.