Football Writers Association of America Jan. 3, 2003
For Immediate Release
Contact: Steve Richardson
17 individuals sited for remarkable efforts
FWAA/ESPN The Magazine Courage Award
ORLANDO (FWAA) Fifteen athletes, a student manager and an assistant coach each with a special story of accomplishment in the face of difficult circumstances are the nominees for the 2003 FWAA/ESPN The Magazine Courage Award.

Nominees include San Jose State special teams player Neil Parry, who returned to college football with a prosthetic leg after an on-field injury led to an amputation in 2001, and Oklahoma's Lynn McGruder and Mark Clayton, who barely escaped a fatal car accident, then helped others who were caught in it.

Southern California assistant coach Chris Carlisle and Georgia Tech punter/holder Hal Higgin survived Hodgkin's disease. And Louisiana-Lafayette defensive end Justin Venable was awarded three medical hardship seasons his career could span an unprecedented eight years because of a series of injuries.

In alphabetical order, the nominees are:

C.J. Ah You, Sophomore, Brigham Young (Defensive End)
Chris Carlisle, USC (Assistant Coach)
Mark Clayton, Junior, Oklahoma (Wide Receiver)
Emmanuel Franklin, Junior, Arizona State (Cornerback)
Travis Freeman, Senior, Kentucky (Student Manager)
Hal Higgins, Senior, Georgia Tech (Punter/Holder)
Norm Lewis, Junior, Central Florida (Offensive Lineman)
Lynn McGruder, Junior, Oklahoma (Defensive Tackle)
Medford Moorer, Senior, Colorado (Free Safety)
Tez Morris, Sophomore, Pittsburgh (Free Safety)
Neil Parry, Junior, San Jose State (Special Teams)
Rayshun Reed, Senior, Troy State (Defensive Back)
Alan Reuber, Senior, Texas A&M (Offensive Tackle)
Keith Robinson, Junior, UTEP (Kicker)
Jeff Smoker, Senior, Michigan State (Quarterback)
Justin Venable, Graduate Student, Louisiana Lafayette (Defensive End)
Chad Wangerin, Senior, Western Michigan (Offensive Tackle)

The award honors someone in college football who shows great courage in the face of adversity. Requirements for candidacy include displaying a courageous act on or off the field, overcoming any injury or physical handicap, preventing a disaster or living through a lifetime of hardship. Toledo running back William Bratton, who endured a blood disorder and great pain but still played football, won the inaugural award last season.

Nominations for the award were solicited by the Football Writers Association of America. A panel of nearly three dozen FWAA members will vote on the nominees, and the FWAA will announce a winner in mid-November. The winner will be presented the award Jan. 4 at the FWAA awards breakfast and meeting at the Hyatt Hotel in New Orleans, held in conjunction with the Nokia Sugar Bowl.

Inspired by the story of Jekelsy Johnson, a linebacker from Alcorn State who was murdered while coming to the aid of a woman being harassed by four non-students on campus, the award was created by FWAA member Gene Wojciechowski of ESPN The Magazine.

Related link:
FedEx Orange Bowl Courage Award