DALLAS (FWAA) – Tennessee's Inquoris "Inky" Johnson
is this week's nominee for the 2008 FedEx Orange Bowl/FWAA Courage
Award, to be announced at the end of the season. Johnson, a
student assistant coach from Atlanta, was a starting cornerback
until he was severely injured making a tackle two years ago. But
he remains an integral part of the Volunteers' program.
Johnson's football career ended in 2006 against Air Force, when
he collided hard with an Air Force receiver. Johnson was momentarily
knocked unconscious after the impact. He then underwent emergency
vascular surgery to repair a severe injury to his right shoulder
An artery had ruptured and an aneurysm had developed. Doctors
replaced the damaged vein with one from his leg. But much damage
had been done to nerves in his neck and arm. Johnson eventually
underwent a nerve transplant at the Mayo Clinic.
"It was scary," Johnson said. "I was out for a minute and then
to see everything going on at the hospital, it kind of hit me. I
was pretty seriously hurt. But I had a lot of support from teammates
and coaches. I knew I could fight through it."
Johnson hopes someday to regain full use of his right arm and
shoulder. He wears a sling to keep his right arm elevated and secure.
He graduated last year, earning a degree in political science, and
he's now working on a master's degree.
Even though his football career was over, he remained a part
of the team as a student assistant and hopes to make a career of
"This is a big transition," Johnson said, "but I'm enjoying every
moment of it. I'm blessed the coaches are giving me the opportunity
to still be around my teammates."
Tennessee players describe Johnson as inspirational.
"Inky is the heart of this team, period," Tennessee running back
Arian Foster said. "No one would tell you otherwise. He is still
the motivating factor. I consider him a brother. It's just the inspiration
he brings. ... It's about what he brings with his heart and passion
and what he believes, it's just priceless."
"Inky Johnson and his family are what college football and the
term student athlete are all about," Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer
said. "He's the ultimate team guy and someone we have tremendous,
tremendous respect for."
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 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,
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