DALLAS (FWAA) – Northern Illinois'
William Lee is this week's nominee for the 2017
Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award.
Lee, a redshirt senior defensive tackle, blocked a kick
before halftime of the Huskies' 21-17 upset win Saturday at
Nebraska. Lee has persevered through homelessness and the murder
of his sister to become a big contributor to NIU's defense.
"We were in and out of shelters until I was in seventh
grade," Lee told the Chicago Tribune in 2016, "We'd go
back and forth or stay with family members until they kicked us
out. Throughout that time in my life, I never had a stable
Stability arrived in high school, when Lee moved in with his
stepfather in Indianapolis and started playing football. In June
of 2016, Lee's 20-year-old sister, Netria Lyons, was murdered in
her Indianapolis apartment.
Lee has been named to the Mid-American Conference's
all-academic team three times. He has played in all 33 games
since his redshirt freshman year, tallying 68 tackles, 4.5
sacks, three quarterback hurries, two blocked kicks and one
The Courage Award was first presented by the Football Writers
Association of America (FWAA) in 2002. 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. The winner of the award will be included
in festivities during Capital One Orange Bowl week and receive his
trophy at an on-field presentation.
Previous winners of the Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage
Award are Pittsburgh running back James Conner (2016), Miami offensive
lineman Hunter Knighton (2015), Duke offensive lineman Laken Tomlinson
(2014), San Jose State defensive lineman Anthony Larceval (2013),
Clemson wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez (2012), Michigan State offensive
lineman Arthur Ray Jr. (2011), Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand
(2010), the University of Connecticut football team (2009), 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).
About the Orange Bowl
The Orange Bowl is
a 360-member, primarily-volunteer non-profit sports organization
that promotes and serves the South Florida community. With its primary
mission since being created in 1935 to bring tourism to South Florida
through an annual football game and events, it has also maintained
a legacy of charitable contributions and community outreach. Orange
Bowl community outreach efforts are comprised of four pillars: youth
sports, fundraising and community events, academic programs and
scholarships, and legacy gifts. The Orange Bowl features a year-round
schedule of events culminating with the Capital One Orange Bowl
on December 30, 2017. For more information on the 2017-18 Orange
Bowl events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities through
the Ambassador Program presented by Panera Bread, log on to
Follow Orange Bowl:
Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America 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
2017 Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees
Sept. 13: J-Shun Harris II, Indiana |
• Sept. 20: William Lee, NIU |
• Sept. 27: Cristian Garcia, Florida |
• Oct. 4: D'Cota Dixon, Wisconsin |
• Oct. 11: Jake Olson, USC |
• Oct. 18: Darian Roseboro, NC State |
• Oct. 25: Sean Savoy, Virginia Tech |
• Nov. 1: Courtney Love, Kentucky |
• Nov. 8: UAB Blazers
Nov. 15: Rodney Anderson, Oklahoma |
One Orange Bowl Courage Award