As the 2009 football season rolls on, each player continues to learn his role on and off the field. Whether they are current athletes or former Buckeyes in the NFL, each finds a way to make an impact on the game.One Buckeye who has made a unique impression on the lives of his teammates won’t be returning to the roster this year, but his spirit and drive will be passed from those who know him to the first-year players who may only know of him.Former Buck’s receiver and 2009 graduate Tyson Gentry is being honored with the E. Gordon Gee Spirit of Ohio State Award on Friday at the annual Alumni Awards for this legacy of inspiration.“I am extremely honored for this,” Gentry said. “Knowing how respected Gee is within the university makes it even more special.”The award is considered for outstanding OSU alumni who make an effort to honor the university and its history with devotion and integrity.Previous winners of the Spirit Award include Gee, Jim Tressel, John T. Mount and the Student-Alumni Council, according to an Ohio State Buckeyes press release.“Tyson has shown exceptional perseverance and dedication in earning his college degree,” said Archie Griffin, president and CEO of Ohio State University Alumni Association. “He clearly has the ability to overcome significant obstacles in pursuit of the things that are important to him. He truly represents the best of the Buckeye spirit.”Gentry came to OSU in 2004 as a punter. In April 2006, he moved to receiver for spring practice. During one play, Gentry went up for the pass and after what would have been a routine tackle he remained motionless on the field. The tackle broke a vertebra in his neck, leaving him partially paralyzed. Though the setback was clearly not part of his plan, Gentry said the experience has allowed him to think of his life in a different perspective.“It has really helped me learn about myself and who I want to be,” he said.Despite not being able to play the game anymore, Gentry remained on the Buckeye roster until his senior season last year. His teammates made sure they honored his strength in more ways than one.Each player wore his number, 24, along with their own on their helmets. And he was always seen next to coach Jim Tressel during “Carmen Ohio.” In addition, he was honorary captain for OSU against Texas at the Fiesta Bowl in January 2009.In his book, “The Winner’s Manual: For the Game of Life,” Tressel writes about Gentry, saying “Tyson has shown us that it’s not what happens to you in life that counts. It’s how you handle it … There is no question in my mind that Tyson Gentry is a hero.”Gentry says his teammates and coaches played a vital role in getting him where he is today and any way he can motivate them in return is significant to him.While many were skeptical he would ever be able to feel anything below the neck, he has regained movement in his arm and has some feeling through all of his body, including his legs. This gives him and those close to him hope that he will one day walk again.Gentry graduated from OSU in June with a B.A. in speech and hearing sciences. He remains a part of the Buckeye community as a graduate student in speech and hearing. Though he has an ultimate goal in mind, he says he wants to focus on the present and make the best of what he can.“I am always going to be working on getting out of my chair,” Gentry said. “This experience has taught me to accept everything as it comes and I’m just going to worry about today and my short term goals and hope that everything else will follow as it is supposed to.”The 2009 Alumni Awards ceremony will take place at the Hyatt Regency Columbus on 350 N. High Street.