Football Writers Association of America Dec. 21, 2009
For Immediate Release
Contact: George Schroeder
541-953-4080
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CONNECTICUT HUSKIES WIN 2009
FEDEX ORANGE BOWL COURAGE AWARD

DALLAS (FWAA) The University of Connecticut football team has been named the winner of the 2009 FedEx Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award. The Huskies persevered throughout the 2009 season after the tragic death of starting cornerback Jasper Howard.

The award will be presented at Orange Bowl festivities, including the annual coaches' luncheon Jan. 4 and at the game Jan. 5.

"The entire University of Connecticut football family is very honored to receive the FedEx Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award," UConn coach Randy Edsall said. "Jasper Howard will always live in our thoughts and memories. I am very proud of my team and the way they responded to the tragedy of Jasper's death. Their perseverance both on and off the playing field was incredibly strong and a tribute to the type of student-athlete we have here in our football program here at UConn."

Howard, a 20-year-old junior, died in the early morning hours of Oct. 18, just hours after UConn's homecoming win over Louisville, after he was stabbed after a campus-sponsored dance. The Huskies lost three emotional games following Howard's death to West Virginia and Rutgers by identical scores of 28-24, after holding the lead late, and 47-45 at Cincinnati.

"It still doesn't seem real," senior receiver Marcus Easley said after the loss to West Virginia, six days after Howard's death. "It's hard to believe we were suiting up for a game without him."

"I just feel empty," Edsall said after the West Virginia game. "The kids played their hearts out and did what we asked them to do. They did a great job but came up a little short. I know 'Jazz' is proud of their effort." Two days after the loss to West Virginia, the entire team traveled to attend Howard's funeral in his hometown of Miami.

But the Huskies, whose five losses were by a combined 15 points, finished the year with three straight wins including a double-overtime win over Notre Dame on Nov. 21 and a 29-27 win over South Florida on Dave Teggart's field goal on the final play.

UConn will play South Carolina in the Papajohns.com Bowl on Jan. 2.

FedEx Orange Bowl Courage AwardFor the fourth straight year, the Football Writers Association of America and the FedEx Orange Bowl announced a weekly nominee each Wednesday during the season. A blue-ribbon panel determined the winner from all of the nominees.

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 Tulsa's Wilson Holloway (2008), 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).

The Orange Bowl Committee is a not-for-profit, 330-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 . The Orange Bowl Festival features a year-round schedule of events culminating with the FedEx Orange Bowl on January 5, 2010. In 2013, the OBC will again double-host both the FedEx Orange Bowl and the BCS National Championship. Other OBC core events include the MetroPCS Orange Bowl Basketball Classic, Orange Bowl Youth Football Alliance, Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships and Orange Bowl Sailing Regatta Series. For more information on the 2009-10 Orange Bowl Festival and its events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities through the Ambassador Program, log on to www.orangebowl.org.

The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,100 men and women 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 gameday operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at tiger@fwaa.com or 972-713-6198.

2009 Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees
Sept. 23: D.J. Williams, Arkansas
Sept. 30: Mark Herzlich, Boston College
Oct. 7: Darius Nall, UCF
Oct. 14: Ricky Rosas, USC
Oct. 21: Derrick Coleman, UCLA
Oct. 28: Connecticut Huskies
Nov. 4: Antoine "Shaky" Smithson, Utah
Nov. 11: Dan Potokar, Ohio State
Nov. 18: Thomas "Rock" Roggeman, East Carolina