Army West Point’s Arik Smith to be honored at December 6th Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet

Charlotte, N.C. (November 4, 2021– The Charlotte Touchdown Club announced today Army Linebacker, Arik Smith, as recipient of its 2021 Defender of the Nation Award sponsored by Capital Group of Companies and America’s Patriotic Dealerships.

The Defender of the Nation Award celebrates our nation’s military academies and institutions and their many outstanding-student athletes according to John Rocco Executive Director of the Charlotte Touchdown Club. Rocco commented, “our sincere congratulations to West Point’s Arik Smith being selected this year’s recipient.  We look forward to honoring Arik’s achievements at December 6th’s Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet, presented by LendingTree.”

The recipient of The Defender of the Nation Award is selected from the nation’s (9) military academies and institutions including  Air Force Academy, The Citadel, Coast Guard Academy, Naval Academy, Norwich University, Virginia Tech, Texas A&M, Virginia Military Institute and West Point and is based on exceptional leadership qualities on the field, in the classroom and in the community. The recipient must also exhibit a high standard of integrity by leading through example.

Rick Hughes, President of Capital Group of Companies commented, “The Capital Group of Companies and America’s Patriotic Dealerships congratulate Arik Smith of West Point as the 2021 Defender of the Nation Award recipient. Arik’s proven excellence both on and off the football field personifies the character of a true leader. The Capital Group of Companies and America’s Patriotic Dealerships applaud Arik for his athletic and academic achievements and for service to his community and country.”

Named a team captain in 2021, Smith anchors defensive unit found in the top ranks of the nation, including a No.1 rank in the nation for opponent time of possession and currently seventh in rushing defense. The Maryland native leads the team in total tackles (39) for a second-consecutive season, following a junior season where he finished with a team-high 78 tackles (7.0 TFL) and a 3.5-sack output as part of the nation’s top-ranked defense in 2020.

Additionally honored as a 2021 Campbell Trophy semi-finalist, Smith actively engages as a youth mentor, including annual national speaking engagements encompassing 150 churches each summer. Other off-the-field initiatives include volunteering his time in restoration efforts to provide housing opportunities for under-privileged families in Baltimore.

Smith is the second Black Knight to receive the honor under Army Head Coach Jeff Monken, since the inaugural accolade was awarded to Army Linebacker Andrew King in 2016.

“For the same reasons his teammates chose him as a captain, Arik Smith is one of West Point’s most respected Cadets. His commitment to serve as a leader in the Corps of Cadets and on our team is evident in his dedication to personally excel and to inspire others to maximize their potential. He embraces the balance of his responsibilities as a Cadet with the grueling schedule of a division one football player with an uncommon steadiness and professionalism.  Whether serving as a reliable company-mate in the Corps, an academic tutor to classmates, team captain and leading tackler on our team, or the many community events he has volunteered for, Arik Smith stands out. We are all incredibly proud of Arik for earning this year’s Defender of the Nation award.  He is most deserving” said Army Head Coach Jeff Monken.

Majoring in Electrical Engineering, the senior linebacker will receive the award as part of the 2021 Bronko Nagurski Award Banquet, set to take place on Monday, Dec. 6 in Charlotte, N.C.

Participating America’s Patriotic Dealerships: Cole Chevrolet / WV, Stephens Auto Center / Danville, WV, Tarr Chevrolet / Jefferson City, TN, Burns Chevrolet / Rock Hill, SC, Jason Lewis Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram/ Sparta, TN, Cloninger Ford, Salisbury, NC, Marburger Automotive Group, Concord, NC
Rick Hughes has a successful 42-year track record in the automotive and finance and insurance industry.  Rick worked with Sonic Automotive on setting up their F&I Program, with NCADA to form and market their NC Life program and industry-leading programs to increase dealer revenue.  Prior to starting Capital Automotive, Rick was the Director of Business Development for one of the world’s largest automotive finance product and service companies.  Rick coordinated various international field forces, presented at BSF and CEO Ninety, and personally developed hundreds of successful dealership personnel.  As CEO of the Capital Companies, he created Flex-Pro, a patented program which allows additional income stream coupled with products, insurance and reinsurance administrative services.  The Capital Companies refers to four unique companies: Capital Benefits Group—Structures custom benefit options based on your business needs, Capital Automotive—Gives dealerships the edge they need to meet and exceed their goals, Capital Processing Systems—Provides state-of-the-art products, administration, insurance and reinsurance services to complement dealership and shareholder financial goals, and Data Dot Dealer Services—Least expensive, most effective theft deterrent ever created.  We are a group of companies that work together to help dealers capitalize on their investments. We keep our clients in the game and moving toward the goal line through our consumer and client centric products and administrative services.

About Veterans Bridge Home
Veterans Bridge Home connects Veterans and their families, in any state of transition, to the community. Through our network of partners, we help Veterans navigate employment, create social connections, and settle their families. We look at the whole Veteran and connect them to the resources needed to be successful and thriving leaders in our community.  Veterans Bridge Home serves as an entry point for Veterans who don’t know where to turn to access support and services. Because Veterans return home to a civilian community and not to federal agencies or bureaucracies, each community must reach out and actively assist in the reintegration process alongside federal agencies such as the Veterans Administration.  The Carolinas have the opportunity and privilege to help bring our nation’s warriors and their families home with the same energy and commitment that our Veterans have displayed in serving our nation. In so doing, ours will serve as a leader to inform other communities that wish to create more welcoming and livable communities for returning Veterans and their families.

The Charlotte Touchdown Club is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 1990 for the purpose of promoting high school, collegiate, and professional football in the Charlotte, North Carolina region. Since its inception, the club has grown as well as diversified boasting a sponsor team of more than (80) companies.  The Club’s activities and services focus community attention on the outstanding Citizenship, Scholarship, Sportsmanship, and Leadership of area athletes and coaches.  Through individual and corporate support, nearly $3,000,000 has been raised and donated to benefit the Charlotte Touchdown Club scholarship efforts.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is presented annually by the Charlotte Touchdown Club in conjunction with the Football Writers Association of America to the nation’s most outstanding NCAA Division I defensive football player at the Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet presented by ACN in Charlotte, NC.

For more information, contact John Rocco (704-347-2918 or jrocco@touchdownclub.mysites.io). The official website of the Charlotte Touchdown Club is www.touchdownclub.mysites.io.


Where Citizenship, Scholarship, Sportsmanship & Leadership are Honored