DALLAS (FWAA) North Dakota State linebacker Matt Anderson is the weekly nominee for the 2010 Discover Orange Bowl Courage Award, to be announced at the end of the season by the Football Writers Association of America.
Anderson, a senior from Cavalier, N.D., has returned to football after a neck injury curtailed his 2009 season and almost ended his career.
Anderson was injured during the season opener his freshman year. It gradually worsened over the next two seasons. At times he felt it driving or was awakened during the night. On the field, collisions took the pain to another level.
"Sometimes," he said, "it would literally take my breath away. It would take two or three plays to feel normal again."
After four games last season, Anderson was diagnosed with a bulging disc as well as loose vertebrae. He underwent surgery in October 2009.
"I felt like I was hurting the team more than I was helping it," Anderson said. "Especially at linebacker where you can't tiptoe around."
After surgery, Anderson wore a halo device. He began supervised workouts last January, including extremely limited weightlifting and light running. He wasn't cleared for full contact until August, but earned a starting job and has been a force.
Anderson's start this season was his best. He ranked third on the team in tackles and recorded the first two interceptions of his career, including one in a 6-3 win over Kansas on Sept. 4.
For the fifth straight year, the Football Writers Association of America and the Discover Orange Bowl will announce a weekly nominee for the Discover Orange Bowl Courage Award each Wednesday during the season. A blue-ribbon panel will determine the award's recipient from those weekly nominees. The recipient of the Courage Award will be announced in December and presented with the trophy in conjunction with this year's Discover Orange Bowl.
The Courage Award was created by ESPN The Magazine's senior writer Gene Wojciechowski, also an FWAA member. A select group of FWAA members vote on the recipient 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 the Connecticut Huskies (2009), Tulsa's Wilson Holloway (2008), Navy's Zerbin Singleton (2007), Clemson's Ray Ray McElrathbey (2006), the Tulane Green Wave (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, 343-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 Discover Orange Bowl on January 3, 2011. Other OBC core events include the MetroPCS Orange Bowl Basketball Classic, Orange Bowl Youth Football Alliance presented by Sports Authority, Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships and Orange Bowl Sailing Regatta Series. For more information on the 2010-11 Orange Bowl Festival and its events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities through the Ambassador Program, visit www.orangebowl.org.
The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization
founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,200 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.
2010 Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees
Sept. 29: Zac Etheridge, Auburn and Rodney Scott,
· Oct. 6: Jon Hoese, Minnesota
· Oct. 13: Marquez Herrod, Colorado
· Oct. 20: Matt Anderson, North Dakota State
· Oct. 27: Jamie Hampton, Troy
· Nov. 3: Ricky Dobbs, Navy
· Nov. 17: Andrew, Colter and Paul Phillips
· Nov. 24: Mississippi State Bulldogs
· Dec. 1: Eric LeGrand, Rutgers