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Dowling Announced as Lowe's Senior CLASS Award Finalist; Fans Can Vote Daily

Ten student-athletes who excel both on and off the field were selected as finalists today for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, it was announced. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. Virginia's Ras-I Dowling has been named a finalist, one of four ACC players on the list. Fans should vote for Dowling, as the fan vote counts for 1/3 of the final tabulation.

To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition.

The senior cornerback is on the watch lists for the Bednarik Award, Nagurski Trophy and Thorpe Award. He has been named All-ACC all three years thus far, and is a second-team College Football Insider preseasonAll-American. While his participation has been limited this season due to various injuries, there's no doubt that his leadership has had a tremendous impact on the team.

Last season, he was projected a second-to-third round NFL draft pick, but he opted to complete his education at the University of Virginia, as he is the first person in his family to attend college -- and soon, to earn a college degree.

Earlier this season, defensive coordinator Jim Reid said of Dowling, "This is exactly what I know about him: That as a father, this is who you get down on your knees and pray that your daughter brings home someday. That is the type of character that he is."

Fans can vote for Dowling once per day by visiting the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award website.

The finalists were chosen by a media committee from the list of 30 candidates that was announced in August. Nationwide fan voting begins immediately to determine the winner. Fans are encouraged to vote via the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award website through December 6. Fan votes will be combined with media and coaches votes to determine the winner.

Lowe's, an official Corporate Partner of the NCAA, will announce the Senior CLASS Award® winner January 10, 2011, on ESPN prior to the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game.

The other finalists are:




Sam Acho

Defensive End

University of Texas

Sean Bedford


Georgia Tech

Anthony Castonzo

Offensive Tackle

Boston College

Jake Coffman

Defensive End

Northern Illinois University

Ricky Dobbs


United States Naval Academy

Kendall Hunter

Running Back

Oklahoma State University

Christian Ponder


Florida State University

Ryan Pugh


Auburn University

Stefen Wisniewski


Pennsylvania State University