Football Writers Association of America Sept. 10, 2008
For Immediate Release
Contact: George Schroeder
Sophomore receiver returns after back, spine injuries

DALLAS (FWAA) Oklahoma State's Artrell Woods is the first nominee of 2008 for the FedEx Orange Bowl/FWAA Courage Award, to be announced at the end of the season. Woods, a sophomore receiver from Bryan, Texas, is playing again after overcoming a spinal cord injury suffered 14 months ago.


When Woods suffered a dislocated and fractured vertebrae and a spinal cord injury during a weightlifting session July 13, 2007, doctors initially wondered whether he would walk again. A return to football wasn't part of the discussion.

Woods rolled an ankle while doing a standard step-up lift of about 185 pounds, causing the freakish injury. He lurched forward, hit his knees on the step, then fell backward. He suffered initial paralysis in one leg and was air-evacuated to an Oklahoma City hospital.

Woods underwent major surgery soon thereafter, and spent several weeks in a full-torso cast.

"The first few days after the accident, my goal was for him to walk again, to just have a normal life," Oklahoma State head athletic trainer Rob Hunt told The Oklahoman. "Football wasn't even an issue. Artie and I never talked about him playing football again."

Said Woods: "I actually felt like I was gonna be able to come back to football all along. Once I could feel my legs again, I felt like I'd come back."

The fracture was fused together during the surgery and has fully healed. Woods played in Oklahoma State's first two games. He suffered a minor knee injury last Saturday against Houston but is expected to return to action soon.

FedEx Orange Bowl Courage AwardFor the third straight year, the Football Writers Association of America and the FedEx Orange Bowl will announce a weekly nominee each Wednesday during the season. A blue-ribbon panel will determine the winner from all of the nominees. The winner of the FedEx Orange Bowl/FWAA Courage Award will be announced in December and be presented with the trophy.

The Courage Award was created by ESPN The Magazine's senior writer Gene Wojciechowski, also a FWAA member. 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.

Previous winners of the FWAA's Courage Award are 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).

Celebrating its 75th anniversary, the Orange Bowl Committee is a not-for-profit, 333-member, primarily-volunteer organization. It is a self-sustaining, independent organization that supports and produces activities and events that enhance the image, economy and culture of South Florida. In addition to the 75th edition of the Orange Bowl Festival, which features a year-round schedule of events culminating with the FedEx Orange Bowl on January 1, the Orange Bowl Committee will host the 2009 FedEx BCS Championship Game on January 8. For more information on the 2008-09 Orange Bowl Festival and its events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities, visit

The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,000 men and women across North America who cover college football for a living. 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, a national poll and its annual All-America team.

For more information in the FedEx Orange Bowl/FWAA Courage Award, contact George Schroeder at 541-953-4080 or

2008 Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees
Sept. 10: Artrell Woods, Oklahoma State
Sept. 17: Terence Campbell, East Carolina
Sept. 24: Johnell Neal, Central Florida
Oct. 1: Wilson Holloway, Tulsa
Oct. 8: Inquoris "Inky" Johnson, Tennessee
Oct. 15: Richard Bowman, North Dakota State
Oct. 22: Tyson Gentry, Ohio State
Oct. 29: Chris Ogbonnaya, Texas
Nov. 12: Robert Quinn, North Carolina
Nov. 19: Brandon Antwine, Florida