DALLAS (FWAA) Pittsburgh defensive lineman Rori Blair is the sixth weekly nominee for the 2014 Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award.
Blair, currently a 6-4, 230-pound freshman for the Panthers, was a receiver and defensive end at Upper St. Clair (Pa.) High School in 2011, but suffered a stroke in April 2012, and nearly died from complications. Blair, who underwent a rigorous eight-month rehabilitation process, lost nearly 50 pounds and sat out his senior season in the fall of 2012.
He was granted an extra semester of high school eligibility, and, after receiving medical clearance, returned to the football field in 2013 and helped Upper St. Clair to an 11-1 record.
This fall, he has played in all seven of the Panthers' games and registered 11 total tackles (eight unassisted), including 3.5 for 19 yards in losses. He also has broken up two passes.
"I believe in God Himself," Blair told triblive.com. "If I wasn't supposed to (return to football), it wasn't His plan. I was supposed to do something else."
The Courage Award was first presented by the 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 Orange Bowl week and receive his trophy at an on-field presentation.
Previous winners of the FWAA's Courage Award are San José 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 Jos State's Neil Parry (2003) and Toledo's William Bratton (2002).
The Orange Bowl is a 360-member, primarily-volunteer non-profit sports organization that promotes and serves the South Florida community. The Orange Bowl features a year-round schedule of events culminating with the Capital One Orange Bowl on December 31, 2014. Other Orange Bowl core events include the MetroPCS Orange Bowl Basketball Classic, Orange Bowl Youth Football Alliance presented by Sports Authority, Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships, Orange Bowl International Youth Regatta, Orange Bowl Swim Classic and Orange Bowl Paddle Championships. For more information on the 2014-15 Orange Bowl events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities through the Ambassador Program presented by Panera Bread, log on to www.orangebowl.org.
The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, 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 gameday operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at email@example.com or 214-870-6516.
2014 Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees
Sept. 17: Deon Hill, Georgia Tech
Sept. 24: Ian Frye, Virginia
Oct. 1: Zack Golditch, Colorado State
Oct. 8: Josh Clemons, Kentucky
Oct. 15: Shon Coleman, Auburn
Oct. 22: Rori Blair, Pittsburgh
Oct. 29: Lorenzo Mauldin, Louisville
Nov. 5: Laken Tomlinson, Duke
Nov. 12: Kyle McCarthy, Notre Dame
Nov. 19: Jarvis Byrd, N.C. State
Bowl Courage Award