DALLAS (FWAA) Boston College's Mark Herzlich is the this week's nominee for the 2009 FedEx Orange Bowl/FWAA Courage Award, to be announced at the end of the season. Herzlich, a senior linebacker from Wayne, Pa., is battling a rare bone cancer.
Herzlich, the 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year, was expected to reprise his team-leading role this season. But he was diagnosed last spring with Ewing's Sarcoma, which was discovered after he complained of unusual pain in his left leg. An MRI revealed a malignant tumor.
"It was kind of a shock," Herzlich told espn.com last May, shortly after the diagnosis. "The first thing that blasted through my head was football, obviously, then once I realized how severe it was, football doesn't really matter right now at all to me."
Herzlich spent last summer undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments (a regimen that's continuing). He rejoined the Eagles this fall, helping to coach the linebackers.
Herzlich led Boston College in 2008 with 110 tackles. He also had six interceptions, most of any linebacker nationally, and was a finalist for the Butkus Award.
Currently undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments, Herzlich has remained with the team. He's helping coach the Eagles' linebackers. He is now optimistic about his chances of returning to football in 2010. He expects to learn in November the results of the treatments.
"I was scared in the beginning," Herzlich told si.com, "But as you go along you see positives. Things get easier. You start to believe a little more."
For the fourth 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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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