DURHAM, N.H.-As a starting tailback at the University of New Hampshire, Jerry Azumah '99 earned a reputation as an unstoppable record-breaker. By the time he graduated from the university and joined the Chicago Bears as a fifth-round draft pick, he had already smashed four NCAA Division I-AA career records and been awarded the Walter Payton Award for his outstanding achievement as the nation's top offensive player. Now, at age 25, he's at it again. With a gift to fund the Jerry Azumah Athletic Performance Center, he is the youngest UNH alum on record to give a gift of more than $100,000 to his alma mater. The gift provides funding for the renovation and complete overhaul-including state-of-the-art equipment-of the University's strength and conditioning facility located in the UNH Field House.
"His National Football League profile will tell you that Jerry Azumah is 5' 11", weighs 195, and plays defensive cornerback with the Chicago Bears," says Marty Scarano, University of New Hampshire athletic director. "What those statistics miss is the size of Jerry Azumah's heart. We are so proud to have Jerry's name affiliated with the University of New Hampshire once again. Jerry was a leader while attending UNH and continues to set a great example as a graduate. "
Azumah is the son of Theophilius and Bertha Azumah, natives of Ghana, who now live in Worcester. He came to UNH in 1995 as a freshman, majored in sociology, and minored in justice studies.
"My scholarship at UNH allowed me to pursue my interests in the classroom, build a successful college football career and changed my life on every level," says Azumah. "I'm pleased to be able to make a major contribution to my university and to bring new opportunities to today's student athletes."
"With this gift, Jerry establishes a new and very important tradition of giving among young alumni," says Young P. Dawkins III, president of the UNH Foundation. "His leadership and his generosity are exceptional, and we are grateful for his exemplary support."
During his four years at UNH, Azumah was an All-American tailback and has been referred to as "a player who comes along once in a coach's lifetime" by Coach Bill Bowes. He holds numerous University records, including the record for touchdowns rushing (60) and touchdowns overall (69), and Division 1-AA records for rushing yards (6,193), all purpose yards (8,376) and points scored (424). He has had the six best and eight of the top ten UNH rushing games ever and holds the all-time Division 1-AA rushing record of 6,193 yards. At that time, he was the only runner in Division 1-AA history to have four 1,000-yard seasons.
Azumah is one of the only players in the history of the NFL to make the transition from playing an offensive position to being a starting cornerback on the defensive side of the football. He has been a full-time starter at cornerback since 2001 and has already made significant contributions on defense. Azumah holds the distinction of being the last Chicago Bear to score a touchdown at Soldier Field when he intercepted Donovan McNabb in a divisional playoff game vs. the Philadelphia Eagles and ran 39 yards for a touchdown on January 19, 2002. The play gave the Bears a 14-13 lead in the third quarter.
In 2001, only his third season in the NFL, he signed a five-year contract extension with the Bears, and is focused on taking his professional football career to the next level and giving back to those who have helped him along the way.