Rice University has distinguished itself from many other Division I universities by having student-athletes who not only excel in their respective sports but also perform well in the classroom. Freshman Alex Lyons has demonstrated what it takes to be a high-achieving student while playing sports at the high school and the collegiate level. Lyons, a linebacker for the Owls football team, was awarded the National Football Foundation National High School Scholar-Athlete Award, an honor given to only five football players throughout the country for their exemplary performance both on the football field and in school. The award was given based on merit and the region where the athletes played during their high school career. Lyons represented the South Region. He and the other four winners were chosen from a total of 450,000 high school football players who were followed by the NFF Chapter Network. "It feels pretty good," Lyons said. "I guess the true feeling has not hit me yet, but I do feel extremely blessed to receive the award."Lyons said that he did not anticipate receiving the award at first and was pleasantly surprised to hear that he was a winner. "My initial reaction was shock," Lyons said. "I was on my way back home to Dallas when I got the call. When I heard the news, I seriously could not believe it." Lyons and the other winners will receive their awards during the NFF Chapter Awards Luncheon on Dec. 4, 2012, in New York City. Lyons said that he was appreciative of winning the award, and was quick to express gratitude toward those who had helped him get to this point. "My high school experience with football and academics was great," Lyons said. "I saw a lot of success in both areas. Balancing time for football and school was not difficult in high school because most things came naturally."On the football field, Lyons won numerous accolades, including First Team All-District. He said he is most proud of being named Defensive Newcomer of the Year in his district as a sophomore, as well as the NFF Scholar-Athlete Award.Lyons said he hopes to bring the same motivation, effort and dedication to his sport as a student-athlete at Rice University. At the college level, this could prove to be more difficult because of longer practices, travel and harder classes. "Honestly, managing football and academics at Rice is by far the most challenging task I have ever faced," Lyons said. "Actually, I am still in the process of figuring out the most effective way to do it. I cannot wait for the day when I figure it out."Lyons joins just a total of 96 all-time winners for this prestigious award. He can also go on to win the same award at the college level by maintaining the levels of academic and athletic excellence that helped him win it in high school, a feat only five athletes have accomplished.