Alex Charlton named winner of 2020 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award

MIAMI LAKES, Fla. — Alex Charlton is the winner of the 2020 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award. Charlton left his post as an Arkansas State analyst to join the front lines of the pandemic as a COVID-19 response team nurse.

“I love football and I miss it on a daily basis,” Charlton said. “But when you go to New York to help out at the peak of everything and you see all that is going on in the rest of the country, to me, how can you not do anything about it when you’re capable of helping?”

In March, Charlton became a graduate assistant at Midwestern State, a Division II school in Wichita Falls, Texas. An Overland Park, Kan., native, Charlton had attended Kansas, where he was as a student assistant for the Jayhawks and stayed on after his 2013 graduation, serving as a player personnel assistant and a graduate assistant.

From there, Charlton enrolled in nursing school at University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2015. He scratched the football itch by helping out as an assistant coach at several area high schools.

Shortly after landing with Midwestern State, Charlton left his job to work as a nurse in New York, which was experiencing nearly 5,000 coronavirus cases a day at the height of the pandemic. Charlton stayed until June, when cases had fallen to roughly 1,000 per day. He returned home to Kansas, then went back to his post with the Mustangs at Midwestern State.

Late in July, Arkansas State hired Charlton as a defensive analyst. But on Aug. 9, Charlton left football again when his services were needed the most, going to Ennis, Texas to again work as a COVID-19 nurse.

Arkansas State was coached at the time by Blake Anderson, who won the 2019 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award for the way he guided the Red Wolves after the death of his wife, Wendy, who passed away after a two-year battle with breast cancer. (Anderson was recently hired as Utah State’s coach.)

“It’s an honor to be selected for this award, especially with somebody like Blake, who has won it himself,” Charlton said. “It’s pretty special and heartwarming.”

The 30-year-old Charlton is currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, about an hour northwest of Ennis Regional Medical Center. He will be there until at least the end of January, and likely longer. Every week brings a new schedule, and new challenges. All of it is worthwhile, Charlton says, knowing that he is doing his part to make a difference during a time in which the country is in dire need of medical personnel.

He watches as much football as he can when he’s not working. Sometimes, when he gets a free hour or two during a night shift, he will watch recorded games and catch up on box scores from around the nation.

“I cannot think of an individual who is more deserving of this award than Alex, especially given these challenging times for everyone,” former FWAA President Matt Fortuna said. “Here is a young man who is making an incredible sacrifice by risking his health and his career to serve others and make this world a better place.

“Alex truly walks the walk, and he sets an incredible example for the rest of us to try to live up to.”

Charlton hopes to get back involved with football when the time allows for it. For now, he is answering a higher calling, working diligently to provide care for the sick in a region that needs his help, for however long that may be.

“I have seen all of the people who have won this award, and to be in that group is pretty special,” Charlton said. “Thank you to everybody for their support.”

All-Time Capital One Orange Bowl Courage Award recipients

• 2002: William Bratton, Toledo
• 
2003: Neil Parry, San Jose State
• 
2004: Horacio Colen, Memphis
• 
2005: Tulane Green Wave
• 
2006: Ray Ray McElrathbey, Clemson
• 
2007: Zerbin Singleton, Navy
• 
2008: Wilson Holloway, Tulsa
• 
2009: Connecticut Huskies
• 
2010: Eric LeGrand, Rutgers
2011: Arthur Ray Jr., Michigan State
• 2012: Daniel Rodriguez, Clemson
• 2013: Anthony Larceval, San Jose State
• 2014: Laken Tomlinson, Duke
• 2015: Hunter Knighton, Miami
• 2016: James Conner, Pitt
• 2017: D’Cota Dixon, Wisconsin
• 2018: Kyle Richard, Cortland State
• 2019: Blake Anderson, Arkansas State

Army’s West nominated for Courage Award 1

DALLAS — Army’s Amadeo West is this week’s nominee for the 2020 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award. West, a defensive end, has overcome three season-ending injuries to become a key piece of the Black Knights’ defense.

Amadeo West

“Just a dream come true,” West said of his success this season. “I can’t express how fortunate and blessed I’ve been just to go out this year and represent this institution, especially the past three years with injuries. Coming back this year and just playing for my teammates, playing for my family and playing for God has made me so blessed.”

West missed the entire 2017 season with an ACL tear. He missed the first eight games of the 2018 season with a ruptured Achilles. And in the third game of 2019, he tore his biceps, costing him the final 10 games of the season.

The Oceanside, Calif., native decided to give football another go and was granted a fifth year of eligibility by the Academy. He has been a huge part of Army’s turnaround in 2020, as the program has rebounded from a 5-8 season in 2019 to start 7-2 this fall.

The 6-foot-2, 245-pound West has 18 tackles, five tackles for loss, two sacks, two pass breakups and one quarterback hurry for a defense that ranks No. 4 nationally entering Saturday’s game against rival Navy.

A team captain, West is a semifinalist for the Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year and a candidate for the Senior Class Award.

West graduates Thursday, which means he will take the Michie Stadium field against the Midshipmen this weekend as a lieutenant.

The Courage Award was first presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) in 2002. A select group of writers from the FWAA vote on the winner 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. The winner of the award will be included in festivities during Capital One Orange Bowl week and receive his trophy at an on-field presentation.

Previous winners of the Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award are Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson (2019), SUNY Cortland linebacker Kyle Richard (2018), Wisconsin safety D’Cota Dixon (2017), Pitt running back James Conner (2016), Miami offensive lineman Hunter Knighton (2015), Duke offensive lineman Laken Tomlinson (2014), San Jose State defensive lineman Anthony Larceval (2013), Clemson wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez (2012), Michigan State offensive lineman Arthur Ray Jr. (2011), Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand (2010), the University of Connecticut football team (2009), Tulsa’s Wilson Holloway (2008), Navy’s Zerbin Singleton (2007), Clemson’s Ray Ray McElrathbey (2006), the Tulane football team (2005), Memphis’ Haracio Colen (2004), San Jose State’s Neil Parry (2003) and Toledo’s William Bratton (2002).

About the Orange Bowl
The Orange Bowl is a 380-member, primarily-volunteer non-profit sports organization that promotes and serves the South Florida community. With its primary mission since being created in 1935 to bring tourism to South Florida through an annual football game and events, it has also maintained a legacy of charitable contributions and community outreach. Orange Bowl community outreach efforts are comprised of four pillars: youth sports, fundraising and community events, academic programs and scholarships, and legacy gifts. The Orange Bowl features a year-round schedule of events culminating with the Capital One Orange Bowl on Jan. 2, 2021. The Orange Bowl also led a community-wide effort to bring the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship to South Florida. It will be played on Jan. 11, 2021 (2021miami.com). For more information on the 2020-2021 Orange Bowl events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities through the Ambassador Program presented by Panera Bread, log on to orangebowl.org or follow @OrangeBowl on social media.

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of 1,200 men and women who cover college football. 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 its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at tiger@fwaa.com.

2020 Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees
• Oct. 28: Jon Dietzen, Wisconsin

  • Nov. 4: Alex Charlton, Arkansas State
  • Nov. 11: D’Eriq King, Miami
  • Nov. 18: Kentucky football team
  • Nov. 25: Chase Allen, Iowa State
  • Dec. 2: Sarah Fuller, Vanderbilt
  • Dec. 9: Amadeo West, Army

Vanderbilt’s groundbreaking kicker nominated for Courage Award

DALLAS — Vanderbilt’s Sarah Fuller is this week’s nominee for the 2020 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award. Fuller, the Commodores’ place kicker, became the first woman to play in a Power 5 game this past Saturday.

Sarah Fuller

“I honestly haven’t taken a second to soak it all in, really. I just think it’s incredible that I am able to do this,” Fuller said afterward. “All I want is to be a good influence to the young girls out there because there were times that I struggled in sports, but I am so thankful I stuck with it. It’s giving me so many opportunities, and I’ve met so many amazing people through sports.

“I just want to say, literally, you can do anything you set your mind to — that’s the No. 1 thing.”

Fuller took the opening kickoff of the third quarter of Vanderbilt’s loss at Missouri, becoming the first woman to officially play in a major conference football game. She kicked the ball 30 yards to the Tigers’ 35-yard line on a designed pooch kick, just six days after helping Vanderbilt’s soccer team win the SEC tournament title.

Fuller, the soccer team’s goalkeeper, had allowed just four goals in four games during the tournament. COVID-19 had left the Commodores’ football team without several specialists in their prep for Missouri, so the program called upon Fuller for help.

Fuller became the third woman to appear in an FBS game, joining New Mexico’s Kate Hnida and Kent State’s April Goss. She was named SEC special teams player of the week, and she is expected to be on Vanderbilt’s travel roster for this Saturday’s game at Georgia.

The Wylie, Texas, native was named to the SEC academic honor roll in 2019 and 2018 and the SEC first-year academic honor roll in 2017. Fuller started nine of 12 games for Vanderbilt’s soccer team this fall, leading the Commodores to a 7-2-0 record while posting a 0.97 goals against average, the eighth-best single-season mark in program history.

Fuller plans to transfer to North Texas, where she will play soccer for two more years and pursue her master’s degree in hospital administration.

“She wasn’t trying to set some landmark event. She was just trying to help really where she could,” Derek Mason said after the game. “There’s just a lot to be said about Sarah and her unselfishness and her ability to say, ‘OK, if called upon, if needed, I’m a Commodore and anything that I can do to help this team I’ll do it.’ She did it with a smile on her face all week.

“For her, I just think the world of her. Her ability to just be in the moment and not really be scared of the moment or afraid of the moment but just looking to dominate the moment is what she did. Hat’s off to her.”

The Courage Award was first presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) in 2002. A select group of writers from the FWAA vote on the winner 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. The winner of the award will be included in festivities during Capital One Orange Bowl week and receive his trophy at an on-field presentation.

Previous winners of the Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award are Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson (2019), SUNY Cortland linebacker Kyle Richard (2018), Wisconsin safety D’Cota Dixon (2017), Pitt running back James Conner (2016), Miami offensive lineman Hunter Knighton (2015), Duke offensive lineman Laken Tomlinson (2014), San Jose State defensive lineman Anthony Larceval (2013), Clemson wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez (2012), Michigan State offensive lineman Arthur Ray Jr. (2011), Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand (2010), the University of Connecticut football team (2009), Tulsa’s Wilson Holloway (2008), Navy’s Zerbin Singleton (2007), Clemson’s Ray Ray McElrathbey (2006), the Tulane football team (2005), Memphis’ Haracio Colen (2004), San Jose State’s Neil Parry (2003) and Toledo’s William Bratton (2002).

About the Orange BowlThe Orange Bowl is a 380-member, primarily-volunteer non-profit sports organization that promotes and serves the South Florida community. With its primary mission since being created in 1935 to bring tourism to South Florida through an annual football game and events, it has also maintained a legacy of charitable contributions and community outreach. Orange Bowl community outreach efforts are comprised of four pillars: youth sports, fundraising and community events, academic programs and scholarships, and legacy gifts. The Orange Bowl features a year-round schedule of events culminating with the Capital One Orange Bowl on Jan. 2, 2021. The Orange Bowl also led a community-wide effort to bring the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship to South Florida. It will be played on Jan. 11, 2021 (2021miami.com). For more information on the 2020-2021 Orange Bowl events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities through the Ambassador Program presented by Panera Bread, log on to orangebowl.org or follow @OrangeBowl on social media.

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of 1,200 men and women who cover college football. 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 its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at tiger@fwaa.com.

2020 Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees
• Oct. 28: Jon Dietzen, Wisconsin

  • Nov. 4: Alex Charlton, Arkansas State
  • Nov. 11: D’Eriq King, Miami
  • Nov. 18: Kentucky football team
  • Nov. 25: Chase Allen, Iowa State
  • Dec. 2: Sarah Fuller, Vanderbilt

Iowa State TE Chase Allen nominated for Courage Award

By Matt Fortuna

DALLAS — Iowa State’s Chase Allen is this week’s nominee for the 2020 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award. Allen has overcome a number of physical setbacks both on and off the field, including being hit by a car, to become a key starter for the No. 13 Cyclones.

“You always wonder how good a player you’ll be after you recover from things like that, but I really never doubted anything,” Allen told The Des Moines Register. “Injuries happened early in my career. Maybe I just got them out of the way early.”

While walking to the football complex during the summer of his freshman year in 2016, Allen was hit by a car. He needed 107 stitches. Once he recovered, just before that season, he had a bout with the mumps, which then led to viral meningitis. He lost 20 pounds from the toll that the infection took on his body.

The 6-foot-7, 240-pound tight end went on to play in all 13 games and start nine as a redshirt freshman in 2017, earning second-team All-Big 12 honors. The following season, in 2018, Allen was forced to miss five games because of an abdominal injury.

Chase Allen

Allen rebounded in 2019 to again play in all 13 games, starting five, earning second-team All-Big 12 honors for the second time.

The Nixa, Mo., native has been named first-team Academic All-Big 12 in each of the past three seasons. Allen earned his mechanical engineering degree this past spring, and he is pursuing a graduate degree in industrial and manufacturing systems. Additionally, he is the president of Iowa State’s student-athlete advisory leadership committee and a candidate for the Senior CLASS Award.

Allen has started five games in his redshirt senior season this fall, recording 13 receptions for 173 yards and two touchdowns for the 6-2 Cyclones, who travel to No. 17 Texas for a Friday morning tilt. Iowa State has started 6-1 in conference play for the first time in program history. Allen has 42 career catches for 463 yards and four touchdowns.

“We’re having a blast this year,” Allen said this week. “I hope you guys are having as much fun watching us as we are playing, because this is the most fun I’ve ever had in my life.”

The Courage Award was first presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) in 2002. A select group of writers from the FWAA vote on the winner 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. The winner of the award will be included in festivities during Capital One Orange Bowl week and receive his trophy at an on-field presentation.

Previous winners of the Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award are Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson (2019), SUNY Cortland linebacker Kyle Richard (2018), Wisconsin safety D’Cota Dixon (2017), Pitt running back James Conner (2016), Miami offensive lineman Hunter Knighton (2015), Duke offensive lineman Laken Tomlinson (2014), San Jose State defensive lineman Anthony Larceval (2013), Clemson wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez (2012), Michigan State offensive lineman Arthur Ray Jr. (2011), Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand (2010), the University of Connecticut football team (2009), Tulsa’s Wilson Holloway (2008), Navy’s Zerbin Singleton (2007), Clemson’s Ray Ray McElrathbey (2006), the Tulane football team (2005), Memphis’ Haracio Colen (2004), San Jose State’s Neil Parry (2003) and Toledo’s William Bratton (2002).

About the Orange Bowl
The Orange Bowl is a 380-member, primarily-volunteer non-profit sports organization that promotes and serves the South Florida community. With its primary mission since being created in 1935 to bring tourism to South Florida through an annual football game and events, it has also maintained a legacy of charitable contributions and community outreach. Orange Bowl community outreach efforts are comprised of four pillars: youth sports, fundraising and community events, academic programs and scholarships, and legacy gifts. The Orange Bowl features a year-round schedule of events culminating with the Capital One Orange Bowl on Jan. 2, 2021. The Orange Bowl also led a community-wide effort to bring the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship to South Florida. It will be played on Jan. 11, 2021 (2021miami.com). For more information on the 2020-2021 Orange Bowl events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities through the Ambassador Program presented by Panera Bread, log on to orangebowl.org or follow @OrangeBowl on social media.

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of 1,200 men and women who cover college football. 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 its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at tiger@fwaa.com.

2020 Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees

  • Oct. 28: Jon Dietzen, Wisconsin
  • Nov. 4: Alex Charlton, Arkansas State
  • Nov. 11: D’Eriq King, Miami
  • Nov. 18: Kentucky football team
  • Nov. 25: Chase Allen, Iowa State

Kentucky team nominated for Courage Award

DALLAS — The Kentucky football team is this week’s nominee for the 2020 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award. The Wildcats beat Vanderbilt, 38-35, on Saturday, just two days after offensive line coach John Schlarman died after a two-year battle with cancer.

“The bottom line is to honor John by playing the way he coached, lived his life, and we constantly talked about the tenacity that he had, the toughness that he had, but also when he was a player he was extremely technical and very detailed,” Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops said after the win.

Kentucky lined up for the first offensive play from scrimmage without a player manning the left guard spot, which was Schlarman’s position during his playing days with the Wildcats from 1994 to 1997. Vanderbilt declined the delay of game penalty, and Landon Young was sent on the field afterward to complete the Wildcats’ offensive line — while wearing No. 65, which had been Schlarman’s number.

Kentucky players wore “JS” on their helmets as well.

Schlarman was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma in the summer of 2018. He coached throughout his treatments and did not miss a game until Kentucky’s previous two contests before Saturday. Stoops gave Schlarman the game ball after an Oct. 17 win at Tennessee, which was Schlarman’s last game.

A four-year starter while with the Wildcats, Schlarman earned first-team all-freshman honors from the SEC in 1994, was chosen as the team’s most outstanding offensive lineman in 1995 and 1996, and was named All-SEC as a senior in 1997. He made the SEC Academic Honor Roll three times and, in 1997, became a finalist for Academic All-America.

The Kentucky native got his college coaching start at his alma mater as a graduate assistant from 2000 to 2002, then returned when Stoops was hired in 2013.

Schlarman was a nominee for the Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award in 2018.

On Saturday, Kentucky honored its beloved coach the best way it knew how: by rushing for 308 yards on 35 carries in a winning effort.

“We lost a member of our family. We lost our coach and someone who was a father figure to every offensive lineman that’s come through this program,” Young said after the game. “One of the toughest, greatest men I’ve met in my life. Having the opportunity to wear his number was a blessing for me.”

The Courage Award was first presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) in 2002. A select group of writers from the FWAA vote on the winner 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. The winner of the award will be included in festivities during Capital One Orange Bowl week and receive his trophy at an on-field presentation.

Previous winners of the Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award are Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson (2019), SUNY Cortland linebacker Kyle Richard (2018), Wisconsin safety D’Cota Dixon (2017), Pitt running back James Conner (2016), Miami offensive lineman Hunter Knighton (2015), Duke offensive lineman Laken Tomlinson (2014), San Jose State defensive lineman Anthony Larceval (2013), Clemson wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez (2012), Michigan State offensive lineman Arthur Ray Jr. (2011), Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand (2010), the University of Connecticut football team (2009), Tulsa’s Wilson Holloway (2008), Navy’s Zerbin Singleton (2007), Clemson’s Ray Ray McElrathbey (2006), the Tulane football team (2005), Memphis’ Haracio Colen (2004), San Jose State’s Neil Parry (2003) and Toledo’s William Bratton (2002).

About the Orange Bowl
The Orange Bowl is a 380-member, primarily-volunteer non-profit sports organization that promotes and serves the South Florida community. With its primary mission since being created in 1935 to bring tourism to South Florida through an annual football game and events, it has also maintained a legacy of charitable contributions and community outreach. Orange Bowl community outreach efforts are comprised of four pillars: youth sports, fundraising and community events, academic programs and scholarships, and legacy gifts. The Orange Bowl features a year-round schedule of events culminating with the Capital One Orange Bowl on Jan. 2, 2021. The Orange Bowl also led a community-wide effort to bring the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship to South Florida. It will be played on Jan. 11, 2021 (2021miami.com). For more information on the 2020-2021 Orange Bowl events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities through the Ambassador Program presented by Panera Bread, log on to orangebowl.org or follow @OrangeBowl on social media.

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of 1,200 men and women who cover college football. 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 its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at tiger@fwaa.com.

2020 Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees

Miami’s D’Eriq King nominated for Courage Award

DALLAS — Miami’s D’Eriq King is this week’s nominee for the 2020 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award. King, a redshirt senior quarterback, lost his father this past winter to a heart attack and saw his mother undergo treatments for breast cancer throughout the last year.

D’Eriq King

“I could always count you to hold me down!” King wrote in a Twitter post when his father died. “The way you loved your family and your will to do anything for us was second to none. The way you loved my mom showed me what pure love was.”

King had tallied 6,346 yards of total offense and 78 total touchdowns from 2016-19 while at Houston. He transferred to Miami after the 2019 season, in need of a fresh start. But this past year has presented no shortage of challenging moments off the field.

In November 2019, King’s mother, Cassandra, was diagnosed with breast cancer. On Feb. 15, just before the Hurricanes were set to start spring practice, King’s father, Eric, died of a heart attack at the age of 48. He had been a youth coach in the Houston area, and his loss was devastating to his family and community.

D’Eriq King in action against the Pitt Panthers on Oct. 17.
(Photo by Eric Espada/University of Miami Athletics)

The COVID-19 pandemic had sent players home from Miami in mid-March, which served as a blessing in disguise for King, as he got to spend more time with his grieving family.

His mother was declared cancer-free on July 20. Two months later, King took the field with the Hurricanes for the first time.

The 5-foot-11, 202-pound King has helped lift Miami to a 6-1 record and a No. 9 ranking in the AP poll. The team captain has completed better than 63 percent of his passes for 1,831 yards with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. He has added 406 rushing yards and two more scores on the ground.

On Friday at NC State, King led a fourth-quarter comeback and finished with 536 yards of total offense and five passing touchdowns. He earned multiple national player of the week honors for his efforts, and he became the first player since 2018 to throw for 400 yards and five touchdowns while also rushing for 100 yards in the same game.

The person who last accomplished that feat? Also King, while at Houston.

The Courage Award was first presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) in 2002. A select group of writers from the FWAA vote on the winner 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. The winner of the award will be included in festivities during Capital One Orange Bowl week and receive his trophy at an on-field presentation.

Previous winners of the Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award are Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson (2019), SUNY Cortland linebacker Kyle Richard (2018), Wisconsin safety D’Cota Dixon (2017), Pitt running back James Conner (2016), Miami offensive lineman Hunter Knighton (2015), Duke offensive lineman Laken Tomlinson (2014), San Jose State defensive lineman Anthony Larceval (2013), Clemson wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez (2012), Michigan State offensive lineman Arthur Ray Jr. (2011), Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand (2010), the University of Connecticut football team (2009), Tulsa’s Wilson Holloway (2008), Navy’s Zerbin Singleton (2007), Clemson’s Ray Ray McElrathbey (2006), the Tulane football team (2005), Memphis’ Haracio Colen (2004), San Jose State’s Neil Parry (2003) and Toledo’s William Bratton (2002).

About the Orange Bowl
The Orange Bowl is a 380-member, primarily-volunteer non-profit sports organization that promotes and serves the South Florida community. With its primary mission since being created in 1935 to bring tourism to South Florida through an annual football game and events, it has also maintained a legacy of charitable contributions and community outreach. Orange Bowl community outreach efforts are comprised of four pillars: youth sports, fundraising and community events, academic programs and scholarships, and legacy gifts. The Orange Bowl features a year-round schedule of events culminating with the Capital One Orange Bowl on Jan. 2, 2021. The Orange Bowl also led a community-wide effort to bring the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship to South Florida. It will be played on Jan. 11, 2021 (2021miami.com). For more information on the 2020-2021 Orange Bowl events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities through the Ambassador Program presented by Panera Bread, log on to orangebowl.org or follow @OrangeBowl on social media.

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of 1,200 men and women who cover college football. 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 its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at tiger@fwaa.com.

2020 Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees

Alex Charlton, former aide to two programs, nominated for Capital One Orange Bowl Courage Award

DALLAS – Alex Charlton is this week’s nominee for the 2020 Capital One Orange Bowl Courage Award. Charlton, a former Midwestern State graduate assistant and Arkansas State volunteer defensive analyst, took a leave from football to join the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic as a nurse.

“There were many times I just found myself holding somebody’s hand who just needed that moment of support,” Charlton told The Athletic this summer, “to not feel like they’re alone in a hospital with all these people walking around with all this gear on.”

Charlton had been a student assistant, player personnel assistant and graduate assistant at Kansas. He enrolled in nursing school at UMKC in 2015, while helping out as a coach at local high schools. He became a GA at Division II Midwestern State in Wichita Falls, Texas after the 2019 season.

In the spring, Charlton left his job to work as a nurse in New York. He worked 12-hour shifts, seeing things that no man or woman should have to see.

In June, with daily cases in New York having fallen from around 5,000 to roughly 1,000, Charlton returned to his home in Kansas, and then to his day job at Midwestern State.

By late July, Charlton had left for a job at Arkansas State. Just two weeks later, he left for Ennis, Texas to work as a COVID-19 response team nurse.

“Football will always be there and that’s my future,” Charlton said during an ESPN College GameDay feature on Sept. 26. “But right now I need to see this through and do what I can to help.”

The Courage Award was first presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) in 2002. A select group of writers from the FWAA vote on the winner 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. The winner of the award will be included in festivities during Capital One Orange Bowl week and receive his trophy at an on-field presentation.

Previous winners of the Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award are Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson (2019), SUNY Cortland linebacker Kyle Richard (2018), Wisconsin safety D’Cota Dixon (2017), Pitt running back James Conner (2016), Miami offensive lineman Hunter Knighton (2015), Duke offensive lineman Laken Tomlinson (2014), San Jose State defensive lineman Anthony Larceval (2013), Clemson wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez (2012), Michigan State offensive lineman Arthur Ray Jr. (2011), Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand (2010), the University of Connecticut football team (2009), Tulsa’s Wilson Holloway (2008), Navy’s Zerbin Singleton (2007), Clemson’s Ray Ray McElrathbey (2006), the Tulane football team (2005), Memphis’ Haracio Colen (2004), San Jose State’s Neil Parry (2003) and Toledo’s William Bratton (2002).

About the Orange Bowl
The Orange Bowl is a 380-member, primarily-volunteer non-profit sports organization that promotes and serves the South Florida community. With its primary mission since being created in 1935 to bring tourism to South Florida through an annual football game and events, it has also maintained a legacy of charitable contributions and community outreach. Orange Bowl community outreach efforts are comprised of four pillars: youth sports, fundraising and community events, academic programs and scholarships, and legacy gifts. The Orange Bowl features a year-round schedule of events culminating with the Capital One Orange Bowl on Jan. 2, 2021. The Orange Bowl also led a community-wide effort to bring the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship to South Florida. It will be played on Jan. 11, 2021 (2021miami.com). For more information on the 2020-2021 Orange Bowl events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities through the Ambassador Program presented by Panera Bread, log on to orangebowl.org or follow @OrangeBowl on social media.

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of 1,200 men and women who cover college football. 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 its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at tiger@fwaa.com.

2020 Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees
Oct. 28: Jon Dietzen, Wisconsin
Nov. 4: Alex Charlton, Arkansas State

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Capital One Orange Bowl Courage Award

 

Wisconsin’s Dietzen nominated for Capital One Orange Bowl Courage Award

DALLAS — Wisconsin’s Jon Dietzen is this week’s nominee for the 2020 Capital One Orange Bowl Courage Award. Dietzen, a sixth-year senior offensive guard, returned to the gridiron this season after initially retiring from football due to a number of ankle and hip injuries.

Jon Dietzen

“My family helped convince me I really should come back and do it,” Dietzen said ahead of his return. “I remember watching games and saying, ‘Oh, I bet I could still do that.’ They said, ‘Well, if you think you can, why don’t you?'”

The 6-foot-6, 319-pound Dietzen had started 20 games at left guard on Wisconsin’s offensive line from 2016-17, helping the Badgers win back-to-back Big Ten West titles and win the Capital One Orange Bowl in 2017. He started 12 games at left tackle in 2018.

Ankle and hip injuries, however, bugged him throughout much of his career, and he had hip surgery ahead of the 2018 season. He was forced to medically retire from football after the 2018 season. Even before Dietzen hung up the cleats, fellow offensive lineman Cole Van Lanen had called Dietzen the toughest guy he knew.

Capital One Orange Bowl Courage Award

In the summer of 2019, Dietzen started feeling better. He trained for months and said he felt fine. The Black Creek, Wis., native watched his teammates play without him and began to miss the game more and more. He trusted his body, along with the messages of encouragement from those in his corner, and he decided he wanted to give it another go.

Dietzen approached Wisconsin’s coaching staff in the middle of the 2019 season about possibly returning. The program made his return official when it released its roster in late September ahead of the 2020 season.

On Friday night in Madison, Wis., Dietzen started at right guard in the Badgers’ 45-7 win over Illinois. “Definitely the more football I watched, the more I missed it,” Dietzen said.

The Courage Award was first presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) in 2002. A select group of writers from the FWAA vote on the winner 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. The winner of the award will be included in festivities during Capital One Orange Bowl week and receive his trophy at an on-field presentation.

Previous winners of the Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award are Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson (2019), SUNY Cortland linebacker Kyle Richard (2018), Wisconsin safety D’Cota Dixon (2017), Pitt running back James Conner (2016), Miami offensive lineman Hunter Knighton (2015), Duke offensive lineman Laken Tomlinson (2014), San Jose State defensive lineman Anthony Larceval (2013), Clemson wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez (2012), Michigan State offensive lineman Arthur Ray Jr. (2011), Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand (2010), the University of Connecticut football team (2009), Tulsa’s Wilson Holloway (2008), Navy’s Zerbin Singleton (2007), Clemson’s Ray Ray McElrathbey (2006), the Tulane football team (2005), Memphis’ Haracio Colen (2004), San Jose State’s Neil Parry (2003) and Toledo’s William Bratton (2002).

About the Orange Bowl
The Orange Bowl is a 380-member, primarily-volunteer non-profit sports organization that promotes and serves the South Florida community. With its primary mission since being created in 1935 to bring tourism to South Florida through an annual football game and events, it has also maintained a legacy of charitable contributions and community outreach. Orange Bowl community outreach efforts are comprised of four pillars: youth sports, fundraising and community events, academic programs and scholarships, and legacy gifts. The Orange Bowl features a year-round schedule of events culminating with the Capital One Orange Bowl on Jan. 2, 2021. The Orange Bowl also led a community-wide effort to bring the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship to South Florida. It will be played on Jan. 11, 2021 (2021miami.com). For more information on the 2020-2021 Orange Bowl events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities through the Ambassador Program presented by Panera Bread, log on to orangebowl.org or follow @OrangeBowl on social media.

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of 1,200 men and women who cover college football. 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 its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at tiger@fwaa.com.

2020 Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees
Oct. 28: Jon Dietzen, Wisconsin

Related link:
Capital One Orange Bowl Courage Award

2019 Courage Award goes to Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson

MIAMI LAKES, FL. — Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson is the winner of the 2019 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award. Anderson coached the Red Wolves to a 7-5 record this fall following the death of his wife, Wendy, who passed away this summer after a two-year battle with breast cancer.

Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson

“The past two years have been the most difficult time our family has ever faced, especially these last few months since Wendy’s passing,” Anderson said. “I can only say that even in the midst of heartache, we have always felt the strength of Christ, the support of our coaching staff, players and administration, as well as the love of so many amazing people across the country lifting us up each step along the way. I pray that God will continue to use our journey in big ways to honor Him and the legacy of Wendy’s heart for God and others.”

In the spring of 2017, Wendy Anderson was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer. The cancer was located in a spot where doctors could not operate. Wendy underwent a natural treatment approach, then had surgery late that summer. She was declared cancer-free on Aug. 31, 2017.

In the fall of 2018, the cancer returned at Stage 4, and her condition worsened in the ensuing months. In January, she had surgery to relieve the pressure of five large masses in her brain. She underwent radiation and chemotherapy, and she became oxygen-dependent 24 hours a day.

Blake and Wendy Anderson had three children together. Blake took a leave of absence from Arkansas State just before Wendy died on Aug. 19, at the age of 49. Assistant head coach and defensive coordinator David Duggan served as the Red Wolves’ interim head coach until Anderson’s return on Sept. 7.

“Coach Anderson has been the epitome of courage in the face of unimaginable adversity throughout these past two years,” 2019 FWAA President Matt Fortuna said. “The way that he cared for Wendy and

their children, and the example that he has continued set for both his players and the college community at-large, transcends sports.”

Anderson’s first game back on the sideline was a 43-17 win at UNLV in Week 2. The following week at Georgia, during Anderson’s second game back, thousands of Bulldogs fans wore pink in honor of Wendy.

“I know that there are so many inspiring stories of courage and perseverance that we see and hear each day, which is why I would like to express how completely honored and grateful I am to receive this award on behalf of myself, my family and the memory of my beautiful wife Wendy,” Anderson said.

Anderson is in his sixth season at Arkansas State, after becoming the Red Wolves’ fifth different head coach in five seasons. He has led the Red Wolves to a 46-30 overall record, with a 36-12 mark in Sun Belt play. The 46 overall wins are the most by an Arkansas State head coach across his first six years at the school. The 36 conference wins are the second-most ever by a Sun Belt head coach.

Arkansas State has won two conference titles under the 50-year-old Anderson. The program went 5-3 in league play this season, good for second in the West division, one year after winning the division title. Sixteen different Red Wolves players earned all-conference recognition this year.

Arkansas State will play Florida International this Saturday in the Camelia Bowl in Montgomery, Ala., marking a school-record ninth straight bowl appearance, which is the third-longest streak among Group of 5 programs.

“I think it’s an honor that the Orange Bowl recognizes the courage the Anderson family has shown while facing the challenges they’ve endured over the last couple of years,” Arkansas State athletic director Terry Mohajir said. “Blake is a great man with unwavering faith. The tremendous amount of love and care he demonstrated for his wife Wendy, while also running his football program, was quite a beautiful and moving sight. The example he has provided by his courage, love and communication to all has been quite an inspiration.”

The Courage Award was first presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) in 2002. A select group of writers from the FWAA vote on the winner 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. The winner of the award will be included in festivities during Capital One Orange Bowl week and receive his trophy at an on-field presentation.

 

Cortland LB Kyle Richard wins 2018 Orange Bowl Courage Award

Senior survives shooting, promotes assault awareness

DALLAS — SUNY Cortland linebacker Kyle Richard is the winner of the 2018 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award. Richard, a 6-foot, 230-pound senior has become an outspoken advocate for victims of sexual assault and bystander intervention after being shot twice in the summer of 2017 while interrupting a sexual assault.

“I knew the story itself was one that (affected) a lot of people, but the story is not even really the one I want to be ended with, with a shooting,” Richard said. “It’s more: I want my story to really be about me trying to help other people out. It’s been tough this past year trying to spread as much awareness as possible while being a great teammate and making sure everything is right on the field, but it’s something that I really do take pride in because I get to help so many people. And I know that people out there need a man to really be talking about this stuff and spreading awareness, so I’m just doing my part, really.”

On July 23, 2017, Richard pursued an assailant outside of a party on Long Island. The assailant pulled out a gun and shot at Richard three times, hitting him once in the left quad and once in the right hamstring. A friend, Michael Abiola, was also shot, leading to nerve damage.

Richard underwent intensive physical therapy and was able to return to the field and appear in 10 games that season. He wrote “Michael 200%” on his wristbands before games, knowing that, for reasons that cannot be explained, his friend took the worst of it that July night. Richard finished second on the team with 75 tackles, along with 4.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, two fumble recoveries, nine quarterback hurries and two pass breakups.

In April, Richard was presented with the Biden Courage Award for Bystander Intervention by former Vice President Joe Biden, along with a Next Generation Award from Kristin’s Fund, which is an Oneida County charity that aims to end domestic violence through awareness campaigns. Richard has also received a thank-you note from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

The Lakeview, N.Y., native has spoken at a number of awareness events, deflecting personal attention while hoping that other people around the world can follow his example and step up whenever they are presented with an opportunity to act.

“I just want people to believe that it is true: Anybody can be a hero at any given time,” Richard said. “I believe that my teammates at Cortland would’ve been doing the same thing if they were in the situation that I was in. I want to believe that there are so many people, but the problem is not enough people do it. So just be that hero in somebody’s life. Even if you think of little things, just try to be there for somebody.

“This stuff is happening every day and we need to stop it as as society. And hopefully my generation is the generation that really puts into perspective how much this has to change.”

Richard credits another friend, Sulaiman Aina, for initially recognizing the sexual assault at the July party and attempting to break it up as well.

Richard was a two-time captain for the Red Dragons, who went 7-3 this season. He finished tied for the team lead in tackles, with 71, to go with seven tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, one interception, two pass breakups, three passes defended, four quarterback hurries, one fumble recovery and one safety. He is expected to graduate with a degree in kinesiology this spring.

His inspiration comes from his mother Sandra, a sergeant in her 28th year with the Nassau County Police Department whose tough-love approach helped shape Kyle and his two brothers.

“First let me express how thankful and proud I am of Kyle — as a father of two daughters, his college coach and fan,” Cortland coach Dan MacNeill said. “He is truly deserving of all attention and accolades according to the profound action that draws him into this story of highlight and hardship. The highlight: the obvious action taken two summers ago to save and serve a young girl from assault, along with the actions, that continue to this day to serve society in the pursuit of the perpetrator.

“The hardship: the cost to him as a result of the physical injuries sustained and then recovery handled in a very humble manner. These, along with the many actions and choices prior to and then after this circumstance, define him as ‘special.’

“Kyle was raised and self-prepared for this moment. He is emblematic of having and exuding strong principles, possessing behavioral values we all hold dear, including being an ‘active bystander.’ Kyle is that solution, open to right-minded service in the protection of others. Educated by strong family values instilled at home and then thankfully drawn to our program with similar leadership traits, he embodies our culture, as evidenced and honored by his election as a junior captain prior to this heroic story.

“Kyle’s responsive manner continues as a servant. His story allows him a platform as a spokesman and advocate for justice. Combined with a tough resolve, humble perseverance and extraordinary recovery, he continues to define his success story and journey as our cherished two-time captain and all-time teammate. This award is justly bestowed on the ‘right’ young man, as his actions are a gift to all.”

The Courage Award was first presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) in 2002. A select group of writers from the FWAA vote on the winner 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. Kyle Richard will be included in festivities during Capital One Orange Bowl week and receive his trophy at an on-field presentation during the Capital One Orange Bowl game between No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Oklahoma on Dec. 29.

Previous winners of the Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award are Wisconsin safety D’Cota Dixon (2017), Pittsburgh running back James Conner (2016), Miami offensive lineman Hunter Knighton (2015), Duke offensive lineman Laken Tomlinson (2014), San Jose State defensive lineman Anthony Larceval (2013), Clemson wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez (2012), Michigan State offensive lineman Arthur Ray Jr. (2011), Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand (2010), the University of Connecticut football team (2009), Tulsa’s Wilson Holloway (2008), Navy’s Zerbin Singleton (2007), Clemson’s Ray Ray McElrathbey (2006), the Tulane football team (2005), Memphis’ Haracio Colen (2004), San Jose State’s Neil Parry (2003) and Toledo’s William Bratton (2002).

About the Orange Bowl
The Orange Bowl is a 360-member, primarily-volunteer non-profit sports organization that promotes and serves the South Florida community. With its primary mission since being created in 1935 to bring tourism to South Florida through an annual football game and events, it has also maintained a legacy of charitable contributions and community outreach. Orange Bowl community outreach efforts are comprised of four pillars: youth sports, fundraising and community events, academic programs and scholarships, and legacy gifts. The Orange Bowl features a year-round schedule of events culminating with the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl on December 29, 2018. For more information on the 2018-19 Orange Bowl events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities through the Ambassador Program presented by Panera Bread, log on to orangebowl.org. Follow Orange Bowl: @OrangeBowl, Facebook and Instagram.

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of 1,400 men and women who cover college football. 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 its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at tiger@fwaa.com.