The award, donated by Jerry and Rosalind Richardson in tribute to their son, is designated for a 49ers football player from North or South Carolina who best displays five characteristics intrinsic to the development of a successful student-athlete: hard work, harmony, teamwork, listening, respect. The announcement was made at the 49ers annual All-Sports Banquet in Halton Arena.
"Thomas is the type of player and person that we want to build our program around," Lambert said. "He works hard, is dependable and brings that team attitude to every practice and game. He is an ideal representative of our program and we are proud to award him the first Jon Richardson Scholarship."
La Bianca, a member of the 49ers first-ever recruiting class, was the 49ers starting center during the 2013 inaugural season. He was selected as one of the three 49ers Flag Carriers that led the team onto the field for the inaugural game, Aug. 31, 2013 vs. Campbell. He was chosen to wear the team’s honorary #49 jersey for the home game vs. #24 Gardner-Webb, Oct. 5. He anchored an offensive line that helped the 49ers produce 448.5 yards of total offense per game, including 206.8 rushing yards. Those totals ranked 20th and 26th in the FCS. The 49ers also ranked 27th in scoring offense with 33.4 points per game and 11th in fewest sacks allowed with 0.91 per game.
La Bianca was named Third Team FCS Independent all-Conference by collegesportsmadness.com.
An English major with a minor in journalism, he earned Athletic Director’s List honors in the Spring of 2013 for posting a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
A first team all-Region selection at Porter Ridge, La Bianca helped the Pirates and head coach Blair Hardin to a 2011 state runner-up finish. The Pirates went 28-3 in his last two years and he earned first-team all-Union County, all-Charlotte Observer and all-Region honors.
His parents are Robert La Bianca and Susan Stauss.