Viti named 2019 Armed Forces Merit Award recipient Reply

Armed Forces Merit Award

FORT WORTH, Texas — Army West Point coach and military veteran Mike Viti has been selected as the eighth recipient of Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).

Coordinated by the staff at the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA was created in June 2012 “to honor an individual and/or a group within the realm of the sport of football.”

Brant Ringler, executive director of the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, and Matt Fortuna, FWAA president, announced Monday during a teleconference that Viti was selected from a list of 38 nominations (33 individuals and five programs) as the 2019 recipient by a seven-person committee made up of FWAA members and Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl officials.

Mike Viti

“Coach Viti has distinguished himself as a collegiate football player, an Army veteran and now as a coach,” said Ringler. “More importantly, Coach Viti has given of himself with his work with Legacies Alive in support of families of our nation’s fallen heroes.”

Fortuna added, “Coach Viti joins a list of remarkable individuals and programs that have been recipients of the Armed Forces Merit Award. He has been successful in each phase of his life as a player and coach at Army West Point, along with his service in the military and his support of Legacies Alive. With so many deserving individuals and programs, it is difficult to honor only one recipient annually.”

Viti, who is in his fourth season as an assistant coach with the Army West Point football, co-founded Legacies Alive (LA), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The mission of the Legacies Alive is to strengthen and support the Gold Star families of our nation’s fallen heroes and brings national awareness to the life and character of all service members who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Viti oversees the strategic and executive direction of the organization.

“Legacies Alive has allowed me to passionately honor the sacrifice and service of my heroes,” said Viti. “The interactions I have had with their Gold Star Families are some of the most powerful and influential experiences I have had in my life. It has inspired me to continue to connect our mission with more Americans so that our country’s sons and daughters forever connect the freedoms and liberties they are afforded, with the sacrifice and service our fallen and their families.”

As a student-athlete at Army West Point (2004-2007), Viti earned four varsity letters and was a team captain. As a fullback used primarily as a blocker, he carried the ball 91 times during his career for 321 yards and three scores while catching 30 passes for 198 yards. Viti also served as a Regimental Commander during his senior year.

Following graduation from the U.S. Military Academy in 2008, Viti was stationed in Oklahoma and Colorado after being commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army. He served with the 4th Infantry Division as well as the 214th Fires Brigade. He served in combat in Afghanistan where he was a platoon leader in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Viti has earned a bronze star and a combat action badge.

After retiring from the military as a captain, Viti embarked on Mike’s Hike For Heroes, a cross country trek where he walked one kilometer for every service member killed in action in the global war on terror. He concluded the walk covering 7,100 kilometers or 4,400 miles beginning in Washington and wrapping up at the Army-Navy Game presented by USAA in Baltimore, Md.

Robert Morris University president Dr. Chris Howard was named last November as the seventh recipient. A 1991 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, Dr. Howard was a Rhodes Scholar and received the 1990 Campbell Trophy, the highest academic award in the nation presented to a senior college football player. He currently serves on the selection committee for the College Football Playoffs.

Nate Boyer of the University of Texas, Austin was the initial recipient in 2012. Other recipients were Brandon McCoy of the University of North Texas in 2013, Daniel Rodriguez from Clemson University in 2014, Bret Robertson of Westminster College (Fulton, Mo.) in 2015 and Steven Rhodes from Middle Tennessee State University in 2016.

Kansas State and its football team were honored in November 2017 as the sixth recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award for the university’s partnership with the United States Army that created a bond between the school’s athletic department and the Iron Rangers at Fort Riley.

ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a large portfolio of 35 collegiate sporting events worldwide. The roster includes three Labor Day weekend college football games, the FCS opening-weekend game, 16 college bowl games, 11 college basketball events, a college softball event, an esports event and two college award shows, which accounts for approximately 375-plus hours of live programming, reaches almost 64 million viewers and attracts over 800,000 attendees each year. With satellite offices in Albuquerque, Birmingham, Boca Raton, Boise, Dallas-Fort Worth, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Montgomery and Tampa, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans. For more information, visit the official website, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube pages.

The Football Writers Association of America (FWAA, http://www.sportswriters.net) consists of the men and women across North America who cover college football for a living. Founded in 1941, the membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game day operations, major awards and an All-America team. Through its website, the FWAA works to improve communication among all those who work within the game. The FWAA also sponsors scholarships for aspiring writers and an annual writing contest. Behind the leadership of President Matt Fortuna of The Athletic, Executive Director Steve Richardson and a board of veteran journalists, the FWAA continues grow and work to help college football prosper at all levels. There are now over 1,400 members.

Media Contacts

Armed Forces Merit Award 2019 finalists revealed

FORT WORTH, Texas — Five individuals have been named as finalists for the 2019 Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).

Armed Forces Merit Award

The announcement of the 2019 recipient will be made via a 10 a.m. (CT) teleconference next Monday (November 11) on Veteran’s Day by Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl Executive Director Brant Ringler and FWAA President Matt Fortuna.

Two of the five individuals for the 2019 Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA were also finalists in 2018 when Robert Morris University president Dr. Chris Howard was announced last November as the seventh recipient.

U.S. Air Force Academy Coach Troy Calhoun and wide receiver Casey Stewart of Shenandoah University lead the list of five individuals named as 2019 finalists after each advanced to the final round of voting in 2018. Calhoun is an Air Force veterans and Steward is a National Guard reservist.

Others 2019 Armed Forces Mert Award finalists are defensive lineman and Marine veteran Alexander Findura of Bloomsburg College of Pennsylvania, defensive lineman and Navy veteran Damian Jackson of the University of Nebraska and Army West Point fullback coach and Army veteran Mike Viti.

The Armed Forces Merit Award’s selection committee is made up of five FWAA members and two representatives from the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl. A total of 33 individuals and five programs were nominated for the 2019 award that was created in June 2012 “to honor an individual and/or a group with a military background and/or involvement that has an impact within the realm of college football.”

Dr. Howard, a 1991 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, was a Rhodes Scholar and received the 1990 Campbell Trophy, the highest academic award in the nation presented to a senior college football player. He currently serves on the selection committee for the College Football Playoffs.

Nate Boyer of the University of Texas, Austin was the initial recipient in 2012. Other recipients were Brandon McCoy of the University of North Texas in 2013, Daniel Rodriguez from Clemson University in 2014, Bret Robertson of Westminster College (Fulton, Mo.) in 2015 and Steven Rhodes from Middle Tennessee State University in 2016.

Kansas State and its football team were honored in November 2017 as the sixth recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award for the university’s partnership with the United States Army that created a bond between the school’s athletic department and the Iron Rangers at Fort Riley.

Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA – 2019 finalists

Troy Calhoun

Troy Calhoun is the only coach that knows want it takes to play football at a service academy and then make the transition from the professional level to oversee a program at the Football Bowl Subdivsion level. In 12-plus seasons at Air Force after playing at the academy for four seasons (1985-1988) and then coaching in the National Football League with the Denver Broncos (2003-2005) and Houston Texans (2006), Calhoun is currently fourth in service academy football coaching wins (93) behind Fisher DeBerry (169, 23, seasons, 1984-2006 at Air Force), Earl Blaik (121, 18, 1941-1958 at Army West Point) and Ben Martin (96, 20, 1958-1977 at Air Force).

 

Alexander Findura

Alexander Findura is a junior defensive lineman at Bloomsburg University where he currently leads the team in tackles for losses (11) and is second in solo tackles (26) and third in total tackles (44). In 27 career games, he has amassed 70 total tackles (34 solos) with 17.5 tackles for losses. Findura started his collegiate career at Georgia State where he was redshirted as a freshman in 2011. With a family history of military service (father in the Navy and grandfather an Army veteran), Findura joined the Marines is the summer of 2012.

 

 

Damian Jackson

Damian Jackson has played in only one game at the University of Nebraska but has served as a valuable member of the team. Jackson served as a member of the Navy SEALs for four years after graduating from Shadow Ridge High School in Las Vegas, Nev., in 2010. He was not a member of the football team in high school but did participate in baseball and soccer. In an April 2018 article in Bleacher Report, Adam Kramer quoted then-new Nebraska coach Scott Frost as saying, “I hope he plays a lot, and we’ll let those pieces fall where they may. But I know how valuable he’s going to be regardless of how many snaps he gets. I love having him on this team.”

 

Casey Stewart

Casey Stewart lives a double life. He is a student-athlete at Shenandoah University where he is a co-captain on the Hornet football team, and at the same time, he’s a soldier in the National Guard. As a senior wide receiver, he has caught 46 passes this season for 752 yards and five touchdowns. He currently ranks fourth on Shenandoah’s career reception list with 133 catches and is second in both receiving yards (2,110, 17.0-yard average per catch) and touchdown receptions (26). He earned all-league honors as a junior.

 

 

Mike Viti

Mike Viti, who is in his fourth season as an assistant coach with the Army West Point football program and fifth overall on staff, co-founded Legacies Alive (LA), is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to strengthen and support the Gold Star families of our nation’s fallen heroes and brings national awareness to the life and character of all service members who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Viti oversees the strategic and executive director of the organization.

2019 Armed Forces Merit Award nominations announced

Armed Forces Merit Award

FORT WORTH, Texas — A total of 33 individuals and five programs have been nominated for the 2019 Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).

Of the 33 individuals nominated for the 2019 Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA, 12 are currently playing college football this season, 14 being college coaches, five being college/university administrators and two referees.

Coordinated by the staff at the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA was created in June 2012 “to honor an individual and/or a group with a military background and/or involvement that has an impact within the realm of college football.”

The recipient of the 2019 Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA will be announced the week of November 3 or 10 as the selection committee of five FWAA members and two representatives from the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.

Robert Morris president and Air Force veteran Dr. Chris Howard was the 2018 recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award. A 1991 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, Dr. Howard was a Rhodes Scholar and received the 1990 Campbell Trophy, the highest academic award in the nation presented to a senior college football player.

Dr. Howard, a member of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee, was inducted into the CoSIDA Academic All-America Hall of Fame and a recipient of the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award, which recognizes distinguished individuals on the 25th anniversary of the conclusion of their collegiate athletic careers.

Nate Boyer of the University of Texas was the initial recipient in 2012. Other recipients were Brandon McCoy of the University of North Texas in 2013, Daniel Rodriguez from Clemson University in 2014, Bret Robertson of Westminster College (Fulton, Mo.) in 2015 and Steven Rhodes from Middle Tennessee State University in 2016.

Boyer (long snapper), McCoy (defensive lineman), Rodriquez (wide receiver) and Robertson (defensive back) served in the Army before playing collegiate football. After his military service with the Marine Corp, Rhodes played four seasons at Middle Tennessee, including an appearance in the 2013 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl with the Blue Raiders.

Kansas State and its football team were honored in November 2017 as the sixth recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award for the university’s partnership with the United States Army that created a bond between the school’s athletic department and the Iron Rangers at Fort Riley.

Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA — 2019 Nominations

Programs

  • Athletes of Valor, Alex Stone, Founder & CEO, Athletes of Valor (U. S. Marines)
  • Battlefields to Ballfields, Mike Pereira, CEO/President/Director
  • National Association of College Directors of Athletics, Wounded Warrior Project
  • University of South Carolina’s “Seats for Soldiers” program and other initiatives
  • University of Tennessee, POW/MIA Chair of Honor

Active Players

  • Cornelius Andrews, Union College, WR, 5-7, 148, Soph., Stockbridge, GA.
  • Dromynique Chestnut, Azusa Pacific, DB, 5-9, 180, Sen., Twentynine Palms, Calif.
  • Alexander Findura, Bloomsburg, DL, 6-6, 255, Jun., Woodland, Ga. (U. S. Marine Corps)
  • Rashaud Freeman, Webber International, LB, 6-0, 225, Soph, Jacksonville, Fla. (U. S. Army)
  • Joshua Griffin, Colorado State, RB, 5-10, 208, Jun., Houston, Tex.
  • Rasheed Holloway, Union College, WR, 6-0, 198, Soph., Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
  • Damian Jackson, Nebraska, DL, 6-2, 275, Soph. Las Vegas, Nev. (U. S. Navy)
  • Kenwon Mack, Union College, CB, 5-9, 165, Frosh, Detroit, Mich.
  • Ty Morrow, Texas Tech, OL, 6-4, 275, Sen., Canadian, Tex. (U. S. Navy)
  • Collin O’Donnell, Bluefield College, DL, 6-0, 250, Frosh, North Tonawanda, N.Y.
  • Josh Schenck, Oklahoma, LB, 5-11, 210, Jun.., Knightdale, N.C. (ROTC Cadet)
  • Casey Stewart, Shenandoah, WR, 6-4, 200, Sen., Front Royal, Va. (National Guard)

Football Staff

  • Troy Calhoun, Head Coach, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Jake Campbell, Assistant Backfield, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Lt. Col. Robert Green, Defensive Assistant, United States Naval Academy (U. S. Marine Corps)
  • Brian Knorr, Assistant Head Coach/Co-Def. Coordinator/Inside Linebackers, U. S. Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Steed Lobotzke, Offensive Line, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Ben Miller, Running Backs/Special Teams Coordinator, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Capt. Ross Pospisil, Director of Player Development, United States Naval Academy (U. S. Marines Corps)
    John Rudzinski, Defensive Coordinator, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Trent Steelman, Quarterbacks/B-Backs Coach, Jacksonville, University (U. S. Army)
  • Mike Thiessen, Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Mike Viti, Assistant Football Coach/Fullback, United States Military Academy (U. S. Army)
  • Charlton Warren, Cornerbacks, Georgia (U. S. Air Force)
  • Mick Yokitis, Wide Receivers, United States Naval Academy (U. S. Navy)
  • Jake Zweig, Director of Man Development, Illinois, (U. S. Navy) Football Support Staff
  • Jordan Simmons, Strength & Conditioning, Nevada (U. S. Army)
  • Rusty Whitt, Strength & Conditioning, United States Military Academy (U. S. Army) Staffing
  • Jim Knowlton, Director of Athletics, University of California (U. S. Army)
  • LTC John Nawoichyk, Assistant AD/Military Operations, United States Military Academy (U. S. Army)
  • Steve Senn, Director of Recruiting and Player Personnel, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)

Referees

  • Raymond Daniel, Official, Mid-American Conference (Army National Guard)
  • Steve Thielen, Official, Mid-American Conference (U. S. Army)

Nominations sought 2019 Armed Forces Merit Award

FORT WORTH, Texas — Nominations are now being accepted for the 2019 Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America.

Armed Forces Merit Award

Coordinated by the staff at the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA was created in June 2012 “to honor an individual or a group with a military background and/or involvement impacting college football.”

Nominations for the 2019 Armed Forces Merit Award will be accepted through October 1. At that time, a selection committee of five FWAA members and two representatives from the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl will review the list of candidates. The 2019 recipient will be announced on Veteran’s Day, November 11.

“We are pleased to join with the Football Writers Association of America to honor an individual with a military background or group that works with our armed services that has an impact within college football,” said Brant Ringler, the Executive Director of the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.

FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson echoed Ringler’s sentiments, adding that the group “has an outstanding list of candidates each year, making it difficult to honor only one recipient when there are several individuals and programs so very deserving of the honor.”

From among 56 nominations considered for the 2018 award, Robert Morris President and Air Force veteran Dr. Chris Howard was selected as the seventh recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award. A 1991 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, Dr. Howard was a Rhodes Scholar and received the 1990 Campbell Trophy, the highest academic award in the nation presented to a senior college football player by the National Football Foundation.

To nominate an individual or group for the Armed Forces Merit Award, please click on the link below for the nomination form, which should be completed and returned to:

Tim Simmons
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
9655 Yellowstone Road
Longmont, CO 80504

Armed Forces Merit Award Nomination Form.

 

Nominations sought 2019 Armed Forces Merit Award

FORT WORTH, Texas — Nominations are now being accepted for the 2019 Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America.

Armed Forces Merit Award

Coordinated by the staff at the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA was created in June 2012 “to honor an individual or a group with a military background and/or involvement impacting college football.”

Nominations for the 2019 Armed Forces Merit Award will be accepted through October 1. At that time, a selection committee of five FWAA members and two representatives from the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl will review the list of candidates. The 2019 recipient will be announced on Veteran’s Day, November 11.

“We are pleased to join with the Football Writers Association of America to honor an individual with a military background or group that works with our armed services that has an impact within college football,” said Brant Ringler, the Executive Director of the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.

FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson echoed Ringler’s sentiments, adding that the group “has an outstanding list of candidates each year, making it difficult to honor only one recipient when there are several individuals and programs so very deserving of the honor.”

From among 56 nominations considered for the 2018 award, Robert Morris President and Air Force veteran Dr. Chris Howard was selected as the seventh recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award. A 1991 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, Dr. Howard was a Rhodes Scholar and received the 1990 Campbell Trophy, the highest academic award in the nation presented to a senior college football player by the National Football Foundation.

To nominate an individual or group for the Armed Forces Merit Award, please click on the link below for the nomination form, which should be completed and returned to:

Tim Simmons
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
9655 Yellowstone Road
Longmont, CO 80504

Armed Forces Merit Award Nomination Form.

 

Robert Morris President Dr. Chris Howard named 2018 Armed Forces Merit Award Recipient

Armed Forces Merit Award

FORT WORTH, Texas — Dr. Chris Howard, an Air Force veteran and Robert Morris University president, has been selected as the seventh recipient of Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).

Coordinated by the staff at the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA was created in June 2012 “to honor an individual and/or a group within the realm of the sport of football.”

Brant Ringler, the Executive Director of the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, and Steve Richardson, the FWAA’s Executive Director, announced here Thursday on an 11 a.m. (CT) teleconference that Dr. Howard was selected from a list of 56 nominations as the 2018 recipient by a seven-person committee made up of FWAA members and Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl officials.

Kansas State and its football team was honored last November as the sixth recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award for the university’s partnership with the United States Army that created a bond between the school’s athletic department and the Iron Rangers at Fort Riley.

“Dr. Howard has distinguished himself as collegiate football player, an Air Force veteran and now as a college president where he continues to active in the sport along with providing guidance with those men and women that serve our country,” said Ringler. “We had a list of 56 outstanding nominations for this year’s award and it is difficult to honor only one annually when we have individuals and programs that are very deserving of the honor.”

Dr. Chris Howard

Richardson added that “Dr. Howard has had remarkable career across the board. He embodies what this award is all about. Certainly, from a scholastic standpoint, he is truly outstanding as the NFF’s Campbell Award winner. Then add in the military and football sides of the equation, what more can you say? The FWAA is very excited about honoring someone of this caliber.”

Becoming the eighth president of Robert Morris University in suburban Pittsburgh in February 2016, Dr. Howard is a 1991 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy. As Rhodes Scholar, he earned a doctoral degree from the University of Oxford before graduating with an MBA with distinction from Harvard Business School.

In 1990, Dr. Howard received the Campbell Trophy, the highest academic award in the nation presented to a senior college football player, and he was inducted into the CoSIDA Academic All-America Hall of Fame. He is a recipient of the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award, which recognizes distinguished individuals on the 25th anniversary of the conclusion of their collegiate athletic careers.

Dr. Howard is a member of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, the College Football Playoff Selection Committee, the College Football 150th Anniversary Committee, and the NCAA Honors Committee.

A retired Air Force reserve lieutenant colonel, Dr. Howard served as a helicopter pilot and then became an intelligence officer for the elite Joint Special Operations Command. He served on active duty in Afghanistan in 2003 and was awarded the Bronze Star for his service. Dr. Howard also served as the Reserve Air Attaché to Liberia.

As RMU president, Dr. Howard has opened the Center for Veterans and Military Families. RMU recently announced that it is partnering with the SEAL Future Fund to help active-duty and retired Navy SEALs transition to civilian careers. RMU also offers its MBA program at a deep discount to service members stationed at any of four military bases located near its campus.

“I am humbled and honored to receive this award, which is as much a testament to what we’ve achieved at Robert Morris University as it to me personally,” said Dr. Howard, who served as the president of Hampden-Sydney College, the oldest privately chartered college in the southern United States located near Richmond, Va.

“The lessons in leadership and character that I learned on the football field served me well as an Air Force officer, and that in turn has shaped my success in business and education, as well as the nonprofit and government sectors,” added Dr. Howard, who graduated from Plano Senior High School in 1987 after helping lead the1986 football team to the Texas State Championship.

Nate Boyer of the University of Texas, Austin was the initial Armed Forces Merit Award recipient in 2012. Other recipients were Brandon McCoy of the University of North Texas in 2013, Daniel Rodriguez from Clemson University in 2014, Bret Robertson of Westminster College (Fulton, Mo.) in 2015 and Steven Rhodes from Middle Tennessee State University.

ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a large portfolio of 31 collegiate sporting events worldwide. The roster includes three Labor Day weekend college football games; FCS opening-weekend game; 14 college bowl games, 10 college basketball events, a college softball event and two college award shows, which accounts for approximately 375-plus hours of live programming, reaches almost 64 million viewers and attracts over 800,000 attendees each year. With satellite offices in Albuquerque, Birmingham, Boca Raton, Boise, Dallas-Fort Worth, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Montgomery and St. Petersburg, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans. ESPN Events also manages the Big 12 Corporate Partner Program. Collegiate Football -Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl (Houston); AdvoCare Texas Kickoff (Houston); Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl (Atlanta); Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl (Tampa, Fla.); Birmingham Bowl (Alabama); Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl (Florida); Camping World Kickoff (Orlando, Fla.); Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Boise); DXL Frisco Bowl (Texas); Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff (Montgomery, Ala.); Hawai’i Bowl (Honolulu); Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth); Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl (Nassau); MEAC/SWAC Challenge (Atlanta); Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl (Nevada); New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque); Raycom Media Camellia Bowl (Montgomery, Ala.); SERVPRO First Responder Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth); The Home Depot College Football Awards (Atlanta). Collegiate Basketball -AdvoCare Invitational (Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla.); Armed Forces Classic (Fort Bliss, Texas); Charleston Classic (South Carolina); College Basketball Awards Presented by Wendy’s (Los Angeles); Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic (Honolulu); Jimmy V Men’s Classic presented by Corona (New York City); Jimmy V Women’s Classic Presented by Corona (South Bend, Ind.); Myrtle Beach Invitational (Conway, S.C.); NIT Season Tip-Off (Brooklyn, N.Y.); State Farm Champions Classic (Indianapolis) and Wooden Legacy (Fullerton, Calif.). Collegiate Softball -St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational (Clearwater, Fla.). For more information, visit the official website, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube pages.

The Football Writers Association of America (FWAA, http://www.sportswriters.net) consists of the men and women across North America who cover college football for a living. Founded in 1941, the membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game day operations, major awards and an All-America team. Through its website, the FWAA works to improve communication among all those who work within the game. The FWAA also sponsors scholarships for aspiring writers and an annual writing contest. Behind the leadership of President Stefanie Loh of the Seattle Times, Executive Director Steve Richardson and a board of veteran journalists, the FWAA continues grow and work to help college football prosper at all levels. There are now over 1,400 members.

Media Contacts:

  • Tim Simmons, Armed Forces Merit Award Coordinator at 720/244-6580 or bfishinc@aol.com
  • Steve Richardson, Football Writers Association of America at 214/870-6516 or tiger@fwaa.com
  • Jonathan Potts, Vice President, Public Relations and Marketing, Robert Morris University, 412/216-6486 or potts@rmu.edu

Armed Forces Merit Award 2018 finalists revealed

FORT WORTH, Texas — Five individuals and one program have been named as finalists for the 2018 Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).

This year’s recipient will be announced prior to Veteran’s Day on Thursday (November 8). The announcement of the 2018 recipient will be made jointly by Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl Executive Director Brant Ringler and FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson on an 11 a.m. (CT) teleconference.

Armed Forces Merit Award

Three of the five individual being for the 2018 Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA were also finalists in 2017 when Kansas State and its football team was announced last November as the sixth recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award for the university’s partnership with the United States Army that created a bond between the school’s athletic department and the Iron Rangers at Fort Riley.

U.S. Air Force Academy Coach Troy Calhoun, Robert Morris University president Dr. Chris Howard and Texas Tech University strength and conditioning coach Rusty Whitt lead the list of five individuals name as 2018 finalists after advancing to the final round of voting in 2017. Both Calhoun and Dr. Howard are Air Force veterans and Whitt served in the U.S.  Army

Other individuals named as finalists are defensive back and Air Force veterans Darren Palmer of UNLV and wide receiver and National Guard reservists Casey Stewart of Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va. The lone program advancing to the finals is Athletes Of Valor, an organization that works with active duty military and veterans to help them get recruited to college and play sports.

The Armed Forces Merit Award’s selection committee is made up of five FWAA members and two representatives from the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl. A total of 56 “candidates” were nominated for the 2018 award that was created in June 2012 “to honor an individual and/or a group with a military background and/or involvement that has an impact within the realm of college football.”

Nate Boyer of the University of Texas, Austin was the initial recipient in 2012. Other recipients were Brandon McCoy of the University of North Texas in 2013, Daniel Rodriguez from Clemson University in 2014, Bret Robertson of Westminster College (Fulton, Mo.) in 2015 and Steven Rhodes from Middle Tennessee State University.

Athletes Of Valor – Unlike college-athlete recruiting services, Athletes of Valor uniquely serves servicemen and women throughout the different stages and challenges of their transition. First, by connecting qualified, competitive servicemen and women with collegiate coaches, and then by facilitating internship and job opportunities with corporate partners. Athletes of Valor’s only-of-its-kind model provides veterans an avenue to showcase their skills and character traits while also giving collegiate coaches the space they need to access experienced veteran athletes. Over one million servicemen and women will transition over the next four years, and statistics show that only about fifty percent will end up earning a degree. With around 85% of student-athletes graduating, the numbers tell a story. With Athletes of Valor, veterans have a unique opportunity to compete on a collegiate team, contribute their experience and maturity, and be a part of something bigger than themselves. Bridging the communication gap between service members and collegiate coaches is at the core of Athletes of Valor’s overall mission to help veteran’s transition successfully.

 

Troy Calhoun

Troy Calhoun, Head Coach, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force) – A 1989 graduate from the Academy and a member of the superintendent’s list by earning over a 3.0 grade point average along with a military performance average of better than 3.0, Calhoun and his wife, Amanda, have a strong respect and affinity for the members of our armed services and are very involved with numerous charitable and community endeavors. After serving from 1989-1995 as an active duty officer in the Air Force, Calhoun coached at Ohio, Wake Forest, the Denver Broncos and the Houston Texans before becoming the Falcon head coach in 2007. In 11-plus seasons at Air Force, Calhoun has led the Falcons to nine bowl games and an 85-64 record.

 

Dr. Chris Howard

Dr. Chris Howard, President, Robert Morris University (U. S. Air Force) – Dr. Howard is the eighth president of Robert Morris University in suburban Pittsburgh. He is a 1991 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, a Rhodes Scholar (earned a doctoral degree from the University of Oxford), and a graduate with an MBA with distinction from Harvard Business School. Dr. Howard received the Campbell Trophy, the highest academic award in the nation presented to a senior college football player, and he was inducted into the CoSIDA Academic All-America Hall of Fame. He is a recipient of the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award, which recognizes distinguished individuals on the 25th anniversary of the conclusion of their collegiate athletic careers. Dr. Howard is a member of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, the College Football Playoff Selection Committee, the College Football 150th Anniversary Committee, and the NCAA Honors Committee. A retired Air Force reserve lieutenant colonel, Dr. Howard served as a helicopter pilot and then became an intelligence officer for the elite Joint Special Operations Command. He served on active duty in Afghanistan in 2003 and was awarded the Bronze Star for his service. Dr. Howard also served as the Reserve Air Attaché to Liberia. As RMU president, Dr. Howard has opened the Center for Veterans and Military Families. RMU recently announced that it is partnering with the SEAL Future Fund to help active-duty and retired Navy SEALs transition to civilian careers. RMU also offers its MBA program at a deep discount to service members stationed at any of four military bases located near its campus.

 

Darren Palmer

Darren Palmer, UNLV (U. S. Army) – A walk-on defensive back/receiver, Palmer got his first taste of college football last season after previously spending nearly a decade serving in the military. He joined the Rebels in 2017 through open tryouts during the offseason, which led to a roster spot during spring practice. Palmer Joined the U.S. Air Force out of high school in 2009 and rose to E-4 Senior Airman status during the four-year stint. He was also stationed first in Fairbanks, Alaska, before moving to a base in Hawai’i. He has also spent three years in the Air National Guard. A 2009 graduate of Lithia Springs High School in Georgia, Palmer is a human services major at UNLV. He was one of a school-record 26 Rebels named 2017 Academic All-Mountain West. A member of the Rebels special teams, Palmer has competed in seven games this season with seven total tackles.

 

Casey Stewart

Casey Stewart, Shenandoah University (National Guard) – In his third-season at the Winchester, Va., school, Stewart is the Hornets third-leading receiver (35 catches for 529 yards) and leads Shenandoah in scoring with 11 touchdown receptions for 66 points. After catching only one pass as a freshman, Stewart had 32 receptions for 478 yards and six touchdowns in 2017 for Shenandoah. He enlisted in the National Guard in January 2017 and completed his basic training in Fort Benning, Georgia. He missed most of Shenandoah’s spring practice while he spent the next 14 weeks in boot camp. Stewart made an appearance at SU toward the end of spring practice 2017 to show his coaches and teammates that he was still invested in the Hornets’ football program. He also was forced to miss the first week of Shenandoah’s preseason camp in August while at a two-week training exercise at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia. Stewart has a six-year contract with the National Guard with an additional two years of inactive reserve if he chooses not to re-up his contract. He wants to work for the federal government (FBI, CIA or DEA) upon his college graduation. If he doesn’t get accepted agencies, he’ll attend officer candidate school.

 

Rusty Whitt

Rusty Whitt, Strength & Conditioning, Texas Tech University (U. S. Army) – In his third season at Texas Tech, Whitt served in the United States Army as a Senior Special Forces Communication Sergeant in the 10th Special Forces Group. Whitt was a member of the U.S. Army from Aug. 2003-Jan. 2009 where during that time he deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) V and VI. Whitt developed and initiated a comprehensive pre-deployment conditioning program for his Special Forces Team prior to and during OIF V and VI. He received a combat infantry badge, two Iraqi campaign medals and an Army commendation medal with valor. Whitt spent six seasons as the head strength and conditioning coach for a Louisiana-Lafayette and a year-long stint as an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Rice. Prior to joining the military, Whitt was the head strength and conditioning coach at Sam Houston State. Whitt began his strength and conditioning career with graduate assistantships at Midwestern State University, and the University of Texas. He performed an internship in the strength and conditioning department at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. Whitt earned his bachelor’s degree in police science and administration from Abilene Christian University in 1994 and his master’s degree in kinesiology from Texas in 1997.

56 Armed Forces Merit Award nominations announced

FORT WORTH, Texas — A total of 22 collegiate players, one college president, 17 college coaches, 10 college and university administrators, two college referees and four program have been nominated for the 2018 Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).

Armed Forces Merit Award

Coordinated by the staff at the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA was created in June 2012 “to honor an individual and/or a group with a military background and/or involvement that has an impact within the realm of college football.”

With 56 nominations to be considered, the award’s selection committee of five FWAA members and two representatives from the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl will determine the 2017 recipient that will be announced the week of November 4 by Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl Executive Director Brant Ringler and FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson.

Kansas State and its football team was announced last November as sixth recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award for the university’s partnership with the United States Army that created a bond between the school’s athletic department and the Iron Rangers at Fort Riley.

Nate Boyer of the University of Texas, Austin was the initial recipient in 2012. Other recipients were Brandon McCoy of the University of North Texas in 2013, Daniel Rodriguez from Clemson University in 2014, Bret Robertson of Westminster College (Fulton, Mo.) in 2015 and Steven Rhodes from Middle Tennessee State University.

Boyer (long snapper), McCoy (defensive lineman), Rodriquez (wide receiver) and Robertson (defensive back) served in the Army before playing collegiate football. After his military service with the Marine Corp, Rhodes played four seasons at Middle Tennessee including an appearance in the 2013 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl with the Blue Raiders.

Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA

2018 Nominations 

Programs

Active College Football Players

Athletes Of Valor Players – ESPN Article

  • Cornelius Andrews, Union College, WR, 5-7, 169, Soph., Stockbridge, GA.
  • Dromynique Chestnut, Azusa Pacific, DB, 5-9, 180, Jun., Twentynine Palms, Calif.
  • Isom Coley, Union College, DB, 5-11, 191, Frosh, Troy, Ala.
  • Alexander Findura, Bloomsburg, DL, 6-6, 255, Soph., Woodland, Ga. (U. S. Marine Corps)
  • Rashaud Freeman, Webber International, LB, 6-0, 225, Frosh, Jacksonville, Fla. (U. S. Army)
  • Khalief Gamble, Becker College, DB, 5-9, 170, Soph., Gainesville, Fla. (U. S. Army)
  • Rasheed Holloway, Union College, WR, 6-0, 198, Frosh, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
  • Joshua Horn, Western New England, LB, 6-0, 230, Frosh, Mendon, Mass.
  • Kenwon Mack, Union College, CB, 5-9, 165, Frosh, Detroit, Mich.
  • Deric Maddaleni, Endicott College, DL, 6-3, 240, Sen., Boxford, Mass. (U. S. Army)
  • Collin O’Donnell, Bluefield College, DL, 6-0, 250, Frosh, North Tonawanda, N.Y.
  • Cody Petero, Union College, TE, 5-9, 237, Soph., Pevely, Mo.
  • Jarris Wade, Hillsdale College, TB, 6-2, 227, Frosh, Oklahoma City, Okla. 

College Football Playoff

Football Staff

  • Troy Calhoun, Head Coach, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Jake Campbell, Assistant Backfield, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Lt. Col. Robert Green, Secondary, United States Naval Academy (U. S. Marine Corps)
  • Steed Lobotzke, Offensive Line, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Bruce Mackey, Offensive Line, Norwich University (Army National Guard)
  • Ben Miller, Running Backs/Special Teams Coordinator, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Maj. Dylan Newman, Defensive Assistant/Senior Military Rep., U. S. Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • John Rudzinski, Secondary, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Trent Steelman, Quarterbacks/B-Backs Coach, Jacksonville, University (U. S. Army)
  • Mike Thiessen, Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Kevin Turco, Head Coach, Lindenwood (U. S. Marine Corps)
  • Jim Turner, Offensive Line Coach, Texas A&M University (U. S. Marine Corps)
  • Mike Viti, Assistant Football Coach/Fullback, United States Military Academy (U. S. Army)
  • Charlton Warren, Cornerbacks, Florida (U. S. Air Force)
  • Maj. Ross Weaver, Assistant Offensive Line Coach, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Mick Yokitis, Wide Receivers, United States Naval Academy (U. S. Navy)
  • Jake Zweig, Special Teams Analyst, Illinois, (U. S. Navy)

Football Support Staff 

  • Jordan Simmons, Strength & Conditioning, Nevada (U. S. Army)
  • Rusty Whitt, Strength & Conditioning, Texas Tech (U. S. Army) 

Staffing 

  • Cmdr. H. Lamont Gourdine, Deputy Director of Athletics (Military), United States Naval Academy (U.S. Navy)
  • Cmdr. Kevin Haney, Faculty Representative, United States Naval Academy (U. S. Navy)
  • Jim Knowlton, Director of Athletics, University of California (U. S. Army)
  • Lance E. LeClere, Orthopedic Surgeon, United States Naval Academy (U. S. Navy)
  • Dan McCarthy, Director of Football Operations, United States Military Academy (U. S. Army)
  • LTC John Nawoichyk, Assistant AD/Military Operations, United States Military Academy (U. S. Army)
  • Steve Senn, Director of Recruiting and Player Personnel, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • CPT Jeremy Trimble, Admission Support, United States Military Academy (U. S. Army) 

Referees

  • Raymond Daniel, Official, Mid-American Conference (Army National Guard)
  • Steve Thielen, Official, Mid-American Conference (U. S. Army)

Deadline approaches for 2018 Armed Forces Merit Award nominations

Fort Worth, Texas — The deadline for nominations for the 2018 Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) is October 1.

Armed Forces Merit Award

Coordinated by the staff at the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA was created in June 2012 “to honor an individual and/or a group with a military background and/or involvement that has an impact within the realm of college football.”

With the 2018 recipient being announced the week of November 4, 2018, nominations for the 2018 Armed Forces Merit Award will be accepted through October 1 when a selection committee of five FWAA members and two representatives from the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl will review the list of candidates for the seventh annual presentation.

“We are pleased to join with the Football Writers Association of America to honor an individual with a military background or group that works with our armed services that has an impact within college football,” said Brant Ringler, the executive director of the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.

FWAA president Stefanie Loh of the Seattle Times echoed Ringler’s sentiments along with adding that the group is “we have an outstanding list of candidates each year and it is difficult to honor only one recipient when there are several individuals and programs that are very deserving of the honor.”

With 38 nominations considered for the 2017 award, Kansas State and its football team was announced last November as sixth recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award for the university’s partnership with the United States Army that created a bond between the school’s athletic department and the Iron Rangers at Fort Riley.

Nate Boyer of the University of Texas was the initial recipient in 2012.  Other recipients were Brandon McCoy of the University of North Texas in 2013, Daniel Rodriguez from Clemson University in 2014, Bret Robertson of Westminster College (Fulton, Mo.) in 2015 and Steven Rhodes from Middle Tennessee State University.

Boyer (long snapper), McCoy (defensive lineman), Rodriquez (wide receiver) and Robertson (defensive back) served in the Army before playing collegiate football.  After his military service with the Marine Corp, Rhodes played four seasons at Middle Tennessee, including an appearance in the 2013 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl with the Blue Raiders.

Armed Forces Merit Award presentation at Kansas State

Kansas State President Richard Myers (center) hoists the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writer’s Association of America after receiving the honor Saturday from FWAA Past President Blair Kerkhoff (second from the right) and Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl Executive Director Brant Ringler (right). Lieutenant Colonel John Meredith (left) from Fort Riley and Kansas State Athletics Director Gene Taylor look on during the presentation during the Wildcat’s game against West Virginia at Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan.