The best defense wins championships and helps fight the flu

By Bob Herzog

Even in this age of offense-driven football at all levels, many coaches still embrace the adage that “defense wins championships.” That saying could easily apply to influenza (better known as flu) prevention.

“The first line of defense against the flu is for everyone age 6 months and older to get vaccinated annually,” said Marla Dalton, CAE executive director and CEO of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID). NFID wants everyone to know that flu can be serious—even for healthy people, flu-related complications can result in hospitalization and even death. Unfortunately, flu vaccination rates in the United States continue to fall short of public health goals, both for football players and the public at large.

To promote the importance of flu prevention, NFID is in the second year of a sponsorship of the Outland Trophy, awarded each season to the nation’s best college football interior lineman. The NFID and the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) have joined forces in a national campaign (#FightFlu) to remind football fans and players to get vaccinated every year. They have even recruited former Outland Trophy winners Joe Thomas (Wisconsin, 2006), Barrett Jones (Alabama, 2011) and Mark May (Pittsburgh, 1980) for a public service campaign to remind football fans of the importance of annual flu shots.

“We provide free flu shots for the varsity football team and coaching staff. But it’s hard to get 90 men to come in to get a shot,” said University of Rhode Island (URI) head athletic trainer Andy Llaguno. “Why? Because they are scared of the needle! They’ll say, ‘No, I don’t want any part of it.’ We highly encourage them to do it, but participation has not been as good as we’d like it.”

Llaguno attributed college football players’ reluctance to get flu shots, despite medical evidence that it most definitely helps, to common myths about the flu shot. According to Llaguno, “Some of them think they will get the flu from the shot. The other thing is that they’re just scared of needles.”

Mark May, the 1980 Outland Trophy recipient from Pitt, shown here getting his annual flu shot, will be the 2019 spokesperson for the Outland Trophy presented by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID).

Flu vaccines are made with flu viruses that are either weakened or killed, and only broken up parts of the killed virus are included in the vaccine. Therefore, the flu vaccine cannot cause the flu. And for those who are afraid of needles, flu vaccine is available as a nasal spray. The pain associated with flu is much worse than the pain of a needle.

Llaguno worked with the football programs at Penn State, Boston College and West Virginia before coming to URI and said, “It was absolutely very similar there. The difference is that at a place like Penn State, the coaching staff does have a little more influence to make sure the players get the shots.”

If football players studied the history of the flu as much as they study their playbooks, getting vaccinated would be a no-brainer.

A lengthy 2018 story in The Athletic detailed how a world-wide flu pandemic struck in 1918, during World War I, decades before a flu vaccine became available. Roughly one-third of the world’s population was infected and an estimated 50 million people died from the flu.

So even though the declared co-national champions Michigan and Pittsburgh played only five games because of the war and quarantines related to the flu scare, sports historian S.W. Pope told The Athletic that the 1918 season, “effectively helped transform the game of college football. It became a national sport.”

Joe Thomas, the 2006 Outland Trophy recipient from Wisconsin, shown here getting his annual flu shot, was the 2018 spokesperson for the Outland Trophy presented by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID).

Thanks to flu vaccines that have been publicly available in the United States for more than 50 years, flu vaccination has prevented millions of illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths.

But NFID reminds us that the flu is still a serious illness, and vaccines don’t work if they sit on the shelf. Though the very young and very old are most vulnerable, even healthy football players and coaches are at risk. The acronym, FACTS (Fever, Aches, Chills, Tiredness, and Sudden Onset), helps remind people of the symptoms of flu.

NFID supports the ‘Take 3’ approach to flu prevention recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): 1) Get a flu vaccine each year, 2) practice healthy habits—cover coughs and sneezes, wash your hands, and stay home if you are sick; and 3) take flu antiviral drugs if prescribed.

Limiting contact with others, however, is exactly the opposite of what football players do. So football and the flu continue to converge. In September of 2009, more than 40 University of Wisconsin football players showed flu-like symptoms the week leading up to the Badgers’ game against Fresno State. They all suited up for a double-overtime victory, but one starter played only briefly before leaving the game with an illness. It was later reported that some of the team got infected by a rare swine flu virus. All recovered within a week, according to news reports.

That fall, football teams at Washington State, the University of Mississippi, Tulane and Duke also were hit hard by the flu, further raising awareness of flu and its symptoms and treatment.

The Ravens defeated the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game, staying at a hotel in Providence instead of Boston, which had declared a state of emergency because of the flu outbreak which affected some Patriots’ players that week.

You would think such incidents would make it an easy sell for athletic trainers to convince football players to get vaccinated against flu. But in many instances, that is not the case.

“Even these big, tough guys are still afraid of needles,” Llaguno said of his Rhode Island Rams. “In some ways it’s comical, but it’s not funny that we haven’t gotten the participation that we want. It is getting better though. We started with a dozen players, got it up to a couple of dozen last year, and we’re hoping for more than 60 percent this year.”

After all, the best way offense in combatting the disease is a good defense.

(Bob Herzog retired from Newsday in 2018 after a 46-year career as a sportswriter and editor. He lives in Rhode Island, where he teaches at URI.)

Viti named 2019 Armed Forces Merit Award recipient

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)

Members: Nominate your daughter or son for the Volney Meece Scholarship

The FWAA is now accepting applications for the 23nd annual Volney Meece Scholarship.

For an application please contact Dave Sittler, 8314 S. Jamestown Ave, Tulsa, OK 74137. His email is davesitt@aol.com and his cell phone is 918-629-3851 (text).

Applications must be received by Dec. 15, 2019.

The scholarship is awarded annually by the FWAA and named for the late Volney Meece, who served 22 years as the FWAA’s Executive Director and was the organization’s President in 1971.

The $1,000 annual grant for four years is awarded to a deserving son or daughter of an FWAA member. Since the program started in 1997, the FWAA has distributed more than $90,000 in scholarship money to deserving children of FWAA members.

The winner will be announced at the FWAA’s Annual Awards Breakfast at the media hotel in conjunction with the College Football Playoff  National Championship Game.

Past winners of the Volney Meece Scholarship
1997  Brett Goering  Topeka, Kan.
1998  Kelly Brooks  Denver, Colo.
1999  James Butz  Schaumberg, Ill.
2000  Sara Barnhart  Atlanta, Ga.
2001  Patrick Davis  Coventry, Conn.
2002  Jacqueline O’Toole  Gaithersburg, Md.
2003  Garrett Holtz  Denver, Colo.
2004  Katie Hersom  Oklahoma City, Okla.
2005  Katie Wieberg  Lawson, Mo.
2006  Kaylynn Monroe  Winter Park, Fla.
2007  Nate Kerkhoff  Overland Park, Kan.
2008  Jack Caywood  Lawrence, Kan.
2009  Haley Dodd  Overland Park, Kan.
2010  Donald Hunt  Philadelphia, Pa.
2011  Alaina Martens  Papillion, Neb.
2012  Emily Alford  Tupelo, Miss.
2013  Sarah Helsley  Edmond, Okla.
2014 Robert Abramson Palos Verde, Calif.
2015 Danielle Hoover Tulsa, Okla.
2016 Dolen Helwagen Pataskala, Ohio
2017 Elizabeth Schroeder Norman, Okla.
2018 Mallory Rosetta Baton Rouge, La.

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.

 

2019 Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list unveiled

92 players get consideration for defensive player of the year

DALLAS – The Football Writers Association of America released its 2019 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List today, selecting 92 defensive standouts from 65 schools in all 10 Division I FBS conferences plus independents on a roster that includes four returning players from last season’s FWAA All-America team.

Grant Delpit, a junior safety from LSU, tops the list as the lone returning Bronko Nagurski Trophy finalist and FWAA first-team All-American from last season. Joining him on the list are three other returning 2018 FWAA second-team All-Americans in Virginia cornerback Bryce Hall, Michigan State defensive end Kenny Willekes, and Stanford cornerback Paulson Adebo.

Alabama leads the team count with four representatives – linebackers Anfernee Jennings and Dylan Moses, end Raekwon Davis and cornerback Trevon Diggs. In addition to Delpit, LSU boasts linebacker Jacob Phillips and cornerback Kristian Fulton on the list to tie Iowa State, Notre Dame and Penn State with three members each. There are 16 schools with two members on the list.

Players may be added or removed from the watch list during the course of the season. As in previous years, the FWAA will announce a National Defensive Player of the Week each Tuesday this season. If not already on the watch list, each week’s honored player will be added at that time. The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce five finalists for the 2019 Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Nov. 20.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner will be chosen from those five finalists. The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the association’s full membership, selects a 26-man All-America Team and eventually the Nagurski Trophy finalists. Committee members, by individual ballot, select the winner they regard as the best defensive player in college football.

This year’s watch list includes at least four players from eight of the 10 FBS conferences. The SEC (18) and Big Ten (15) have the most members and combine to make up more than one-third of the 92-man list. The ACC and Pac-12 (12 each) and Big 12 (11) also have double-digit representation, followed by the American Athletic (6), Independents (5), Conference USA (4), Mountain West (4), Mid-American (3) and Sun Belt (2). The list includes 36 linebackers, 28 backs, 21 ends and seven tackles.

2019 BRONKO NAGURSKI TROPHY PRESEASON WATCH LIST (92)
DB DeMarkus Acy, Missouri DE Mustafa Johnson, Colorado
DB Paulson Adebo, Stanford DE Patrick Johnson, Tulane
DE Bradlee Anae, Utah LB Clay Johnston, Baylor
LB Rayshard Ashby, Virginia Tech DB Brandon Jones, Texas
LB Joe Bachie, Michigan State LB Antonio Jones-Davis, NIU
DE JaQuan Bailey, Iowa State DE Khalid Kareem, Notre Dame
LB Markus Bailey, Purdue LB Nate Landman, Colorado
DB Essang Bassey, Wake Forest LB Sage Lewis, FIU
LB Shaun Bradley, Temple DT Ray Lima, Iowa State
DB Antoine Brooks Jr., Maryland LB Bryan London II, Texas State
LB Jordyn Brooks, Texas Tech LB Jordan Mack, Virginia
DT Derrick Brown, Auburn DT Justin Madubuke, Texas A&M
DB Myles Bryant, Washington DB Kevin McGill, Eastern Michigan
DB Andre Cisco, Syracuse DB Josh Metellus, Michigan
DE Nick Coe, Auburn LB Dylan Moses, Alabama
LB Carter Coughlin, Minnesota LB Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma
DB Cameron Dantzler, Mississippi State DE Julian Okwara, Notre Dame
DE Raekwon Davis, Alabama LB Micah Parsons, Penn State
DB Grant Delpit, LSU LB Jacob Phillips, LSU
DB Trevon Diggs, Alabama LB Shaquille Quarterman, Miami
DE Victor Dimukeje, Duke DB J.R. Reed, Georgia
LB Troy Dye, Oregon DB Elijah Riley, Army
LB Cooper Edmiston, Tulsa DB Amik Robertson, Louisiana Tech
DE A.J. Epenesa, Iowa LB Merlin Robertson, Arizona State
LB Jordan Fehr, Appalachian State DE Alton Robinson, Syracuse
LB Paddy Fisher, Northwestern LB Colin Schooler, Arizona
DB Jordan Fuller, Ohio State DT Jordon Scott, Oregon
DB Kristian Fulton, LSU LB Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
LB Lawrence Garner, Old Dominion LB Marcel Spears, Iowa State
LB Cale Garrett, Missouri DB Caden Sterns, Texas
DE Jonathan Garvin, Miami LB Darrell Taylor, Tennessee
DE Joe Gaziano, Northwestern LB Kyahva Tezino, San Diego State
DB Alohi Gilman, Notre Dame DE Xavier Thomas, Clemson
DB Jeff Gladney, TCU LB Erroll Thompson, Mississippi State
DB Richie Grant, UCF DT Khyiris Tonga, BYU
DB A.J. Green, Oklahoma State DE Jay Tufele, USC
DE Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State LB Mykal Walker, Fresno State
DB Javon Hagan, Ohio DE Curtis Weaver, Boise State
DB Bryce Hall, Virginia LB Evan Weaver, California
LB Ky’el Hemby, Southern Miss DB James Wiggins, Cincinnati
DB CJ Henderson, Florida DE Kenny Willekes, Michigan State
DB Lavert Hill, Michigan DT Marvin Wilson, Florida State
DE Wyatt Hubert, Kansas State DT Robert Windsor, Penn State
LB Bryce Huff, Memphis LB David Woodward, Utah State
LB Anfernee Jennings, Alabama DE Chase Young, Ohio State
DB Jaylon Johnson, Utah DE Jabari Zuniga, Florida

By conference: SEC 18, Big Ten 15, ACC 12, Pac-12 12, Big 12 11, American Athletic 6, Independents 5, Conference USA 4, Mountain West 4, Mid-American 3, Sun Belt 2.

By position: Linebackers 36, Backs 28, Ends 21, Tackles 7.

Players may be added or removed from the list before or during the season

The 25th Annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Banquet will be held on Dec. 9 at the Charlotte Convention Center. In addition to the 2019 Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner’s announcement, the banquet will also celebrate former UCLA All-American Jerry Robinson, the recipient of the Bronko Nagurski Legends Award. Ohio State head coach Ryan Day is the keynote speaker.

The FWAA has chosen a National Defensive Player of the Year since 1993. In 1995, the FWAA named the award in honor of the legendary two-way player from the University of Minnesota. Nagurski dominated college football, then became a star for professional football’s Chicago Bears in the 1930s. Bronislaw “Bronko” Nagurski is a charter member of both the College Football and Pro Football Halls of Fame.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 25 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about the NCFAA.

About the Football Writers Association of America
Founded in 1941, the non-profit Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) consists of more than 1,300 members, including journalists, broadcasters, publicists and key executives in all areas of college football. Led by current President Matt Fortuna of The Athletic, longtime Executive Director Steve Richardson, and a board of veteran journalists, the association continues to grow and work to help college football prosper at all levels. Visit footballwriters.com for more information about the FWAA and its award programs.

About the Charlotte Touchdown Club
The Charlotte Touchdown Club is a non-profit organization founded in 1991 for the purpose of promoting high school, collegiate, and professional football in the Charlotte, N.C., region. The club’s activities and services focus community attention on the outstanding citizenship, scholarship, sportsmanship, and leadership of area athletes and coaches. Since 1991, the club has raised more than $2 million to benefit area high school and collegiate athletics. For more information, contact John Rocco (704-347-2918 or jrocco@touchdownclub.com). The official website of the Charlotte Touchdown Club is touchdownclub.com.

Related link:
Download the 25th Anniversary Bronko Nagurski Trophy logo

2019 Outland Trophy watch list unveiled

83 players get consideration for nation’s top interior lineman

DALLAS — The Football Writers Association of America has announced the preseason watch list for the 2019 Outland Trophy presented by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. This season’s list presents a rare wide-open field following the departure of all eight Outland Trophy semifinalists from a year ago and the return of only one FWAA All-American, offensive tackle Calvin Throckmorton of Oregon. The Ducks, along with Michigan, top the list with four selections among the 83 standout interior linemen representing all 10 Division I FBS conferences and independents.

This is the second year of a partnership with the NFID to present the Outland Trophy as part of a public awareness campaign focused on the importance of influenza (flu) prevention during the 2019-20 flu season. The award honoring the top interior lineman in college football will continue to be selected by the FWAA membership and has been rebranded as the Outland Trophy presented by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases with a social media hashtag of #FightFlu.

Throckmorton, a senior from Bellevue, Wash., was a second-team FWAA All-American and is the lone member of the 2018 FWAA All-America Team on either interior line to return this season. He is joined by three teammates, center Jake Hanson, guard Shane Lemieux and defensive tackle Jordon Scott. Michigan has four members of its offensive front on the list – center Cesar Ruiz, guards Michael Onwenu and Ben Bredeson, and tackle Jon Runyan. Georgia has three players and 15 other schools have two representatives on the list of standouts.

University of Pittsburgh All-American Mark May, the 1980 Outland Trophy winner, will serve as the Outland Trophy #FightFlu ambassador for the upcoming season. May will make media appearances on behalf of the #FightFlu public awareness campaign to remind people to get their annual flu shots.

The recipient of the 74th Outland Trophy will be announced during ESPN’s The Home Depot College Football Awards on Dec. 12, live from the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. The official presentation to the winner will be made at the NFID Outland Trophy Awards Dinner sponsored by Werner Enterprises and produced by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee on Jan. 15, 2020. Up to eight semifinalists will be named on Nov. 20 in Omaha and three finalists for the award will be announced on Nov. 25.

Candidates may be added or removed during the season. The distribution of watch list candidates is spread well among the conferences, with the Big Ten and SEC leading the way with 13 each. The Big 12 and Pac-12 are just behind with 12 apiece, followed by the ACC with 10 as well as the American Athletic (6), Independents and Mountain West (4 each), and Conference USA, Mid-American and Sun Belt (3 each). The list includes 32 offensive tackles, 19 defensive tackles, 18 guards and 14 centers.

2019 OUTLAND TROPHY PRESENTED BY NFID PRESEASON WATCH LIST (83)
OT Trey Adams, Washington OG Shane Lemieux, Oregon
OT Hakeem Adeniji, Kansas DT Ray Lima, Iowa State
OL Tremayne Anchrum, Clemson OT Walker Little, Stanford
OG Jack Anderson, Texas Tech OT Abraham Lucas, Washington State
OT Mekhi Becton, Louisville DL James Lynch, Baylor
C Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin DT Justin Madubuike, Texas A&M
DT Ross Blacklock, TCU DT Garrett Marino, UAB
DT Quinton Bohanna, Kentucky OT Colton McKivitz, West Virginia
OG Parker Braun, Texas OG John Molchon, Boise State
OG Ben Bredeson, Michigan C Jimmy Morrissey, Pitt
DT Derrick Brown, Auburn OT Thayer Munford, Ohio State
OL Jake Brown, UCF DT Larrell Murchison, N.C. State
C Levi Brown, Marshall DT Lorenzo Neal, Purdue
C Cohl Cabral, Arizona State OT Jake Nelson, Nevada
OT Brady Christensen, BYU OT Lucas Niang, TCU
OT Ezra Cleveland, Boise State OT Marcus Norman, USF
DT Doug Costin, Miami OG Michael Onwenu, Michigan
OT Coy Cronk, Indiana OT Miles Pate, WKU
OG Navaughn Donaldson, Miami DT John Penisini, Utah
OT Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame OT Benjamin Petrula, Boston College
OG Jovahn Fair, Temple C Cesar Ruiz, Michigan
DT Leki Fotu, Utah OT Jon Runyan, Michigan
DT Neville Gallimore, Oklahoma DT Jordon Scott, Oregon
C Jake Hanson, Oregon C Zach Shackelford, Texas
C Bryce Harris, Toledo OL Josh Sills, West Virginia
C Nick Harris, Washington OG John Simpson, Clemson
OT Charlie Heck, North Carolina OT Rashawn Slater, Northwestern
OT Justin Herron, Wake Forest OG Logan Stenberg, Kentucky
C Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma OT Prince Tega Wanogho, Auburn
OT Robert Hunt, Louisiana OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia
OL Keith Ismael, San Diego State OT Calvin Throckmorton, Oregon
OT Alaric Jackson, Iowa DT Khyiris Tonga, BYU
C Jordan Johnson, UCF OG Tre’Vour Wallace-Sims, Missouri
OT Victor Johnson, Appalachian State C Darryl Williams, Mississippi State
OT Josh Jones, Houston DT Raequan  Williams, Michigan State
OG Luke Juriga, Western Michigan OT Jedrick Wills Jr., Alabama
OG Kirk  Kelley, Troy OL Isaiah Wilson, Georgia
OL Solomon Kindley, Georgia DT Marvin Wilson, Florida State
DT Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina DT Robert Windsor, Penn State
OG Tommy Kraemer, Notre Dame OT Tristan Wirfs, Iowa
OG Gus Lavaka, Oregon State C Dustin Woodard, Memphis
OG Alex Leatherwood, Alabama

By conference: Big Ten 13, SEC 13, Big 12 12, Pac-12 12, ACC 10, American Athletic 6, Independents 4, Mountain West 4, Conference USA 3, Mid-American 3, Sun Belt 3.

By position: Offensive Tackles 32, Defensive Tackles 19, Offensive Guards 18, Centers 14.

Tackles, guards and centers are eligible for consideration Candidates may be added or removed during the season

The Outland Trophy winner is chosen from three finalists who are a part of the annual FWAA All-America Team. The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the entire membership, selects a 26-man first team and eventually the three Outland finalists. Committee members, then by individual ballot, select the winner. Only interior linemen on offense or defense are eligible for the award; ends are not eligible.

The Outland Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 25 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about the NCFAA.

The Outland Trophy, now in its 74th year, is the third-oldest major college football award. Created in 1946 when Dr. John Outland presented the FWAA with a financial contribution to initiate the award, the Outland Trophy has been given to the best interior lineman in college football ever since. Dr. Outland, an All-American at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1890s, eventually took up practice in Kansas City, Mo. An avid outdoorsman, Dr. Outland believed linemen did not get the credit they deserved and wanted an award to recognize them.

About the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases
Founded in 1973, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to educating the public and healthcare professionals about the burden, causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of infectious diseases across the lifespan. Visit nfid.org for more information.

About the Football Writers Association of America
Founded in 1941, the non-profit Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) consists of more than 1,300 members, including journalists, broadcasters, publicists and key executives in all areas of college football. Led by current President Matt Fortuna of The Athletic, longtime Executive Director Steve Richardson, and a board of veteran journalists, the association continues to grow and work to help college football prosper at all levels. Visit footballwriters.com for more information about the FWAA and its award programs.

On the web
OutlandTrophy.com, FootballWriters.com, nfid.org/flu

Twitter
@NFIDvaccines, @OutlandTrophy, @TheFWAA, @Mark_May, #FightFlu

Related links:
Download high-resolution Outland Trophy logo for editorial use

 

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.

 

Shaun Alexander/FWAA Freshman of the Year Award calls for big things on, and off, the field

By Mike Griffith

AJC-Dawg Nation

CLEMSON, S.C. — Dabo Swinney was having flashbacks during the Clemson spring football game on Saturday with former Alabama and Seattle Seahawks star Shaun Alexander in attendance.

The 2005 NFL MVP was at the Tigers’ spring game to hand off the inaugural Shaun Alexander/FWAA Freshman of the Year Award to Trevor Lawrence. The trophy is presented by Stand Together, a non-profit organization.

Swinney had some fun at Alexander’s expense when his dynamic tailback, Travis Etienne, bounced a run outside to the head coach’s displeasure.

“You don’t have to hit home runs Shaun!” Swinney yelled in Etienne’s direction with Alexander standing beside him. “Sometimes you have to hit singles!”

Former Alabama and NFL running back Shaun Alexander is greeted by Clemson coach Dabo Swinney at the school’s 2019 spring game. Alexander was there to formally present the first Shaun Alexander/FWAA Freshman of the Year Trophy to Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Photo by Shane Sandefur.

Former Alabama and NFL running back Shaun Alexander is greeted by Clemson coach Dabo Swinney at the school’s 2019 spring game. Alexander was there to formally present the first Shaun Alexander/FWAA Freshman of the Year Trophy to Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Photo by Mike Griffith.

Alexander broke into a grin, knowing the phrase all too well having heard it several times early in his career at Alabama.

Swinney’s coaching career was just lifting off as a graduate assistant under the direction of College Football Hall of Famer Gene Stallings when Alexander signed with the Tide out of Boone County High School in Florence, Ky., and redshirted the 1995 season.

The 1996 season was big for Alexander and Swinney, a coming out party of sorts for both. Swinney was promoted to receivers coach under the direction of then-Tide offensive coordinator Woody McCorvey, who is now Clemson’s associate athletic director for football administration.

Alexander, meanwhile, was competing for playing time in a crowded backfield when he sent shockwaves across the country on Nov. 9, 1996.

Coming off the bench in the second quarter, Alexander took 20 handoffs from then-Alabama QB and now-Cleveland Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens and gained a school-record 291 yards against LSU, scoring four touchdowns in a 26-0 win over the Bayou Bengals.

Gerry DiNardo, the LSU coach at the time, since turned Big Ten Network lead analyst, remembers recognizing Alexander’s greatness when he watch No. 37 slice through a defense that anchored a 10-2 team.

“I can still remember a play starting toward our bench and then him cutting back, and I remember thinking as I watched that this is a special back,” DiNardo said. “He hadn’t started any games, and we didn’t know much about him.

“Anytime you see a great athlete move forward and contribute to our society, it’s a great story, so what started out for me as a bad memory has turned into a very good thing.”

McCorvey knew he had a pretty good thing in Alexander, but not even he could have anticipated that sort of performance.

“For him to do what he did down in the other Death Valley at LSU in Baton Rouge, 291 yards rushing, that was unbelievable,” said McCorvey, who after seeing Alexander score on his only carry of the first half called Alexander’s number 19 more times in the second half.

“That was just the start of it for Shaun, he was able to finish of a tremendous college career and went on to have a stellar NFL career.”

As much as Alexander excelled on the field, he was an exemplary student-athlete off of it, serving as an Alabama chapter Fellowship of Christian Athletes president in 1999, the same year he was named SEC Player of the Year.

Those good works continued off the field, as Alexander started a family foundation in Seattle to mentor young men before his nine-year NFL career and retirement to the Washington, D.C., area with his wife and nine children.

“Shaun was a great representative of Alabama football, the way he carried himself off the field, and of course what an incredible back he was,” said ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit, who launched his career on ESPN GameDay in 1996. “I love that the FWAA has come up with an award recognizing a freshman of the year, and how fitting to be able to have a guy like Trevor Lawrence win it in the first year.

“Shaun and Trevor are two great people, two great athletes, and I think we’ll look back at this with Trevor winning a trophy that’s fitting of him and everything he and Shaun represent.”

In addition to the Alexander Trophy, the FWAA Freshman of the Year will receive a gold coin with the following traits displayed on the coin: “Ambassador, Legend, Faith, Passion, Talent, Focus, Character, Leader.”

McCorvey, who mentored Swinney as a receiver and assistant coach and now helps oversee Clemson football, has used many of those same words during his distinguished coaching career.

Former Alabama and NFL running back Shaun Alexander presents the inaugural Shaun Alexander/FWAA Freshman of the Year Trophy to Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The formal presentation occurred at Cloemson’s 2019 spring game. Photo by Shane Sandefur.

“Both Shaun and Trevor exemplify class,” McCorvey said. “When I was a part of Shaun’s career at Alabama, his work ethic and everything he put into being a student-athlete was exemplary.

“It’s the same thing with Trevor since he has been here. He’s been all business, he’s carried himself in the right way, and when he got his opportunity last year he handled it well. For him to win this award and win the national championship, that’s what it’s all about.”

Swinney, his arm around Alexander much of the day, agreed.

“Here’s the cool thing, I was there when you were a freshman, and I am here to see you present this award to this great freshman, Trevor,” Swinney told Alexander. “It’s fitting that he’s the first one, you were an amazing freshman; obviously he was too.

“But the great thing is both of you are great people, both of you have strong faiths. I’m honored Trevor won it and you are here to present it.”
Lawrence, born on Oct. 6, 1999, four days after Alexander scored four touchdowns and tallied 200 total yards in a 40-39 road win over a No. 3-ranked Florida team, was humbled to win the award.

“It’s awesome, obviously Shaun was a great player, so to win his award is an honor,” Lawrence said. “I try to lead by example; you can’t ask anyone to do anything that you’re not willing to do.

“My faith plays a big part in leading people, too, and that’s also leading by example. That’s doing the right thing, not just with the team and in workouts, but off the field, too.”

Alexander, his Alabama rooting interests aside, made it clear he’ll be pulling for Lawrence to continue his greatness on and off the field.

“I wanted someone to win this award whose character and faith and talent matched, and Trevor was that guy,” said Alexander, who chose Lawrence for the award before the Clemson phenom completed 20-of-32 passes for 347 yards and three touchdowns in the Tigers’ 44-16 CFP Championship Game win over the Tide.

“I, along with Stand Together and the Football Writers Association of America, will be looking for big things from you in the future on and off the field.”