Football Writers Association of America Oct. 8, 2008
For Immediate Release
Contact: George Schroeder
Former Vol now coaching after career-ending injury

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 and arm.


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 coaching.

"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."

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