DALLAS (FWAA) Virginia's Demetrious Nicholson is this week's nominee for the 2015 Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award.
Nicholson, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound cornerback from Virginia Beach, Va., was born to Elizabeth Nicholson, who had Demetrious when she was 12. Nicholson also overcame the deaths of his younger sister, Shaquanda, and of his great-grandmother, Nita Superales, who had taken the lead in raising him.
"Football was the outlet I realized I had at an early age," Nicholson told ESPN.com this year. "When I faced any type of adversity, I just kept going and didn't feel like anything could stop me. I think back to my mom having to raise me when she was 12 and then my great-grandmother getting sick. I have this anger type of fire inside me that motivates me and drives me in any situation I'm in, particularly on the football field."
Elizabeth Nicholson went to high school and nursing school, working while taking care of Demetrious and of her grandmother, Superales, when she fell ill.
With Superales in a nursing home suffering from lupus and heart ailments, Elizabeth, then 20, lost her 4-month-old daughter to sudden infant death syndrome. Superales died in 2009.
Demetrius Nicholson was diagnosed with turf toe after the fifth game of the 2013 season. After re-aggravating the injury in the spring, he played in just one game last season, before receiving a medical hardship waiver.
Now in his fifth season at Virginia, Nicholson has played in seven of eight games for the Cavaliers, starting in three. He has 22 tackles, including 1.5 for loss, to go with four pass breakups and one forced fumble. His 36 career passes defended ranks first in the ACC among active players and sixth nationally.
Nicholson graduated in May and was the program's Allstate AFCA Good Works Team nominee.
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 award are Duke offensive lineman Laken Tomlinson (2014), San Jos 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).
About the Orange Bowl
The Orange Bowl is a 363-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 College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl on December 31, 2015. 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 2015-16 Orange Bowl events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities through the Ambassador Program presented by Panera Bread, log on to orangebowl.org. Follow Orange Bowl: @OrangeBowl, Facebook and Instagram.
Celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2015, 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, or to submit a nomination for this years Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award, contact Steve Richardson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2015 Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees
Sept. 16: Bobby Swigert, Boston College
Sept. 23: Jake Olson, USC
Sept. 30: Anthony Zettel, Penn State
Oct. 7: Leonard Fournette, LSU
Oct. 14: Cheatham Norrils, Toledo
Oct. 21: J.B. Grimes, Auburn
Oct. 28: D.J. Foster, Arizona State
Nov. 4: Demetrious Nicholson, Virginia
Nov. 11: Jerry Kill, Minnesota
Nov. 18: Mitchell Meyers, Iowa State
Nov. 25: Hunter Knighton, Miami
Dec. 2: Justin Hansen, Colorado State
Capital One Orange
Bowl Courage Award