For the fifth straight year, the Football Writers Association of America and the Discover Orange Bowl will announce a weekly nominee for the Discover Orange Bowl Courage Award each Wednesday during the season. A blue-ribbon panel will determine the award’s recipient from those weekly nominees. The recipient of the Courage Award will be announced in December and presented with the trophy in conjunction with this year’s Discover Orange Bowl.
The Courage Award was created by ESPN The Magazine’s senior writer Gene Wojciechowski, also an FWAA member. A select group of FWAA members vote on the recipient each year. The requirements for nomination include displaying courage on or off the field, including overcoming an injury or physical handicap, preventing a disaster or living through hardship.
NOMINEES FROM THE FIRST FOUR WEEKS
AUBURN’S ETHERIDGE, OLE MISS’ SCOTT
ARE COURAGE AWARD NOMINEES
DALLAS (FWAA) – Auburn safety Zac Etheridge and Ole Miss running back Rodney Scott are the first weekly nominees for the 2010 Discover Orange Bowl/FWAA Courage Award, to be announced at the end of the season.
Etheridge, a senior from Troy, Ala., has returned to football after he was temporarily paralyzed while making a tackle in 2009. Scott, a sophomore from Cross City, Fla., is being recognized for his action – or inaction – in helping prevent further injury to Etheridge.
During the teams’ game last October, Etheridge tackled Scott. When both players remained motionless, it became apparent something was wrong. Etheridge had suffered a neck injury. Scott, sensing Etheridge was seriously injured, did not move.
"If I had moved, he could have been paralyzed," Scott told reporters.
"It was one of the most amazing things I’ve seen," Auburn coach Gene Chizik said. "I’ve got to give (Scott) a lot of credit. I don’t know how he knew, but he just knew he couldn’t move. He sat as still as the night, laying right underneath (Etheridge). It was one of the most phenomenal things I’ve witnessed."
Etheridge’s spine wasn’t structurally damaged. He suffered torn ligaments and a cracked fifth vertebra and had to wear an invasive neck brace for three months.
Etheridge earned his degree in public administration last December. He did not participate in spring practice, but was cleared to play just before the season. He ranks second on the team in tackles. Scott has played in a reserve role for the Rebels. The players have spoken on the phone several times since the accident.
"I take my hat off to Rodney Scott," Etheridge said a few days after the accident. "If he would have moved, I wouldn’t be here today."
MINNESOTA’S HOESE NOMINATED FOR
DISCOVER ORANGE BOWL COURAGE AWARD
DALLAS (FWAA) – Minnesota fullback Jon Hoese is the weekly nominee for the 2010 Discover Orange Bowl Courage Award, to be announced at the end of the season by the Football Writers Association of America.
Hoese, a senior from Glencoe, Minn., is playing this season with a heavy heart after losing his father, Terry Hoese, who suffered a stroke Aug. 26 and passed away 11 days later.
After his father’s stroke, Hoese missed a day of practice, then returned to the team – a decision made with his family, believing his father would want him to play. In the Gophers’ season opener at Middle Tennessee, he scored all three of Minnesota’s touchdowns, caught a 23-yard pass to convert a third down and keep a drive alive, and recovered a late fourth-quarter fumble on a kickoff return to ice the victory. Given the game ball by Gophers coach Tim Brewster, Hoese gave it to his father.
Terry Hoese, who had been a fixture at games since his son made the team, died Sept. 6. He was 53. Jon missed practice that week, but returned to play that weekend against South Dakota – one day after his father’s funeral – and has continued to play.
"I know in a heartbeat, everyone on this team would do anything we could for Jon and his family," said Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber, who shares a house with Jon Hoese, to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Hoese, a former walk-on who was elected captain this fall, began his career as a safety and has consistently made an impact on special teams. When Minnesota transitioned to a pro-style offense, he moved to fullback and won the starting job. His primary responsibility is blocking, but he has never lost a yard carrying the football.
Through five games this season, Hoese has 14 carries for 38 yards and three touchdowns and seven catches for 64 yards. He is on pace to graduate with a degree in business marketing.
COLORADO’S HERROD NOMINATED FOR
DISCOVER ORANGE BOWL COURAGE AWARD
DALLAS (FWAA) – Colorado defensive end Marquez Herrod is the weekly nominee for the 2010 Discover Orange Bowl Courage Award, to be announced at the end of the season by the Football Writers Association of America.
Herrod, a fifth-year senior, was homeless for a time as a child, reduced to sleeping on a bus stop bench and begging for change from strangers. He never met his biological father, was abused as a toddler by a stepfather and later was taken from his mother by the state.
After his mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia, Herrod was sent initially to a children’s home, and then lived in several different foster homes.
"I just didn’t want to go wrong," he told the Denver Post. I wanted to settle down with a family. I just wanted to graduate from high school."
Herrod is on pace to graduate from college in December with a 3.0-plus grade point average. He’ll earn degrees in psychology and business management.
Herrod didn’t begin playing football until high school, but quickly developed into a highly touted defensive end prospect. As a senior, he’s sharing time in a rotation at defensive end. He has two tackles this season. His goal is to play pro football, but he also hopes to help children who grow up in situations similar to his past.
"To me, it’s a resurrection story," Herrod’s pastor, John Roberts, told the Boulder Daily Camera. "The circumstances could have made him bitter, but it made him better."
NORTH DAKOTA STATE’S ANDERSON NOMINATED FOR DISCOVER ORANGE BOWL COURAGE AWARD
DALLAS (FWAA) – North Dakota State linebacker Matt Anderson is the weekly nominee for the 2010 Discover Orange Bowl Courage Award, to be announced at the end of the season by the Football Writers Association of America.
Anderson, a senior from Cavalier, N.D., has returned to football after a neck injury curtailed his 2009 season and almost ended his career.
Anderson was injured during the season opener his freshman year. It gradually worsened over the next two seasons. At times he felt it driving or was awakened during the night. On the field, collisions took the pain to another level.
"Sometimes," he said, "it would literally take my breath away. It would take two or three plays to feel normal again."
After four games last season, Anderson was diagnosed with a bulging disc as well as loose vertebrae. He underwent surgery in October 2009.
"I felt like I was hurting the team more than I was helping it," Anderson said. "Especially at linebacker where you can’t tiptoe around."
After surgery, Anderson wore a halo device. He began supervised workouts last January, including extremely limited weightlifting and light running. He wasn’t cleared for full contact until August, but earned a starting job and has been a force.
Anderson’s start this season was his best. He ranked third on the team in tackles and recorded the first two interceptions of his career, including one in a 6-3 win over Kansas on Sept. 4.