Football Writers Association of America Sept. 22, 2015
For Immediate Release
Contact: Steve Richardson
214-870-6516
Senior safety helps to spoil Air Force's upset bid
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MICHIGAN STATE'S WILLIAMSON IS AUTONATION
NATIONAL DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK

DALLAS (FWAA) Michigan State safety RJ Williamson scored a touchdown on a fumble return and had an interception on a late Air Force drive, providing two of the Spartans' multiple big plays that helped them move to 3-0 on the season with a 35-21 win. His third career touchdown return helped him earn him the AutoNation FWAA Defensive Player of the Week honor for games of the weekend of Sept. 19.

Williamson, a 6-0, 215-pound fifth-year senior from Dayton, Ohio, impacted the game when it was only eight minutes old when he scooped up an Air Force fumble and returned it 64 yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 Michigan State lead. It was the first fumble return for a score of his career. He had two interception returns for touchdowns last season.

His interception the eighth of his career and second this season halted an Air Force drive at the MSU 8-yard line with 5:11 left in the game with the Spartans protecting a 35-14 lead. He later recovered an onside kick attempt with 2:10 left to preserve the win.

"He's a great leader on the defense," Michigan State co-defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett said. "He's seen a lot of different things. He understands the in-game adjustments, which are more important than anything, being able to communicate them to the other players as well as to the coaches, what he sees. You could see him and his game going to another level."

As part of AutoNation's history of charitable involvement, AutoNation will donate $1,000 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) in Williamson's name. This charitable college football initiative culminates with the AutoNation Cure Bowl, a new post-season NCAA football game that kicks off bowl season at the Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando, Fla., and will be aired by CBS Sports Network. The aptly named AutoNation Cure Bowl also serves as a fund raiser for the BCRF, CharityWatch's only A+ rated breast cancer organization in the country.

Williamson

"We want to celebrate the very best of college football, while also helping to raise awareness for the importance of finding a cure for cancer," says AutoNation CMO Marc Cannon. "This season-long partnership with the FWAA, leading up to the AutoNation Cure Bowl, puts a spotlight on a cause that we're determined to tackle."

"In our 75th season of existence, this a marvelous platform to get our players and the team of the week series excellent exposure as well as helping AutoNation in its effort to fight cancer and contribute to the educational funds of deserving student-athletes," said FWAA 2015 President Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald. "It is very exciting to be able to help our organization as well as others in this splendid effort."

The FWAA National Defensive Player of the Week and National Team of the Week, both sponsored by AutoNation for the first time this year, have been determined collectively by a group of FWAA officers and the FWAA All-America Committee for several years. The AutoNation FWAA Offensive Player of the Week has been added this season. Nominations are taken from game performance all over the country each week and then those nominations are reviewed by the FWAA, which determines the actual recipients.

AutoNation is also the new sponsor of the 2015 FWAA All-America Team, which will be comprised of 26 first-team and 26 second-team selections as nominated by the membership and chosen by the FWAA All-America Committee. The 2015 AutoNation FWAA All-America Team will be announced at the AutoNation Cure Bowl on Dec. 19.

Coincidentally, the 2002 and '03 FWAA All-America teams were honored on the floor of the very same Citrus Bowl Stadium. Over the years, the FWAA's All-America teams have been honored in different locations and on various media platforms during the second-longest continuous annual selection of an All-America team in major college football.

Additionally, the AutoNation 75th Anniversary FWAA All-America Team, which was announced in August, will be celebrated during the 2015 season. That team includes players selected from past FWAA All-America teams dating to 1944, three years after the organization was formed in 1941. The AutoNation 75th Anniversary FWAA All-America Team is composed of three teams of 25 players each, with all eight decades, starting in the 1940s, represented among the playing eras of members on the team. It includes 56 National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Famers. Forty-one schools are represented on the team that was selected by an FWAA Blue Ribbon Committee after taking into consideration nomications from the membership.

About AutoNation, Inc.:
AutoNation is transforming the automotive retail industry through bold leadership. We deliver a peerless automotive retail experience through our customer-focused sales and service processes. Owning and operating 293 new vehicle franchises, which sell 35 new vehicle brands across 15 states, AutoNation is America's largest automotive retailer, with state-of-the-art operations and the ability to leverage economies of scale that benefit the customer. As an indication of our leadership position in our industry, AutoNation is a component of the S&P 500 Index.

About the AutoNation Cure Bowl:
The AutoNation Cure Bowl a new post-season NCAA football game whose net proceeds benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The AutoNation Cure Bowl takes place December 19 at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, and will be broadcast by CBS Sports Network. The bowl is scheduled to involve teams from the American Athletic and Sun Belt conferences.

About the Football Writers Association of America:
Founded in 1941, the FWAA consists of 1,400 men and women who cover college football. 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 and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at tiger@fwaa.com.

2015 AutoNation National Defensive Players of the Week
Week of Sept. 5: Karl Joseph, West Virginia
Week of Sept. 12: Kai Nacua, BYU
Week of Sept. 19: RJ Williamson, Michigan State
Week of Sept. 26: Jeremy Cash, Duke
Week of Oct. 3: Eric Striker, Oklahoma
Week of Oct. 10: Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State
Week of Oct. 17: Minkah Fitzpatrick and Eddie Jackson, Alabama
Week of Oct. 24: Cameron Smith, USC
Week of Oct. 31: Quenton Meeks, Stanford
Week of Nov. 7: Chad Whitener, Oklahoma State
Week of Nov. 14: Elandon Roberts, Houston
Week of Nov. 21: Ejuan Price, Pittsburgh
Week of Nov. 28: Tyler Matakevich, Temple
Week of Dec. 5: Tarris Batiste, Georgia State