DALLAS (FWAA) Cal's Ashtyn Davis is this week's nominee for the 2019 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award. Davis, a fifth-year Golden Bear's safety, is a former walk-on who has persevered through a litany of personal and physical challenges to emerge as one of the nation's best prospects at his position.
During his sophomore year of high school, Davis was limited by Osgood-Schlatter disease, an ailment that sets in below the knee. The Santa Cruz, Calif., native eventually drew interest from a number of schools to walk on as a track athlete, but with football always in mind, he chose to go to Cal, an in-state school with a Pac-12 football program. He joined the football team in the spring of 2015 and even passed up a track scholarship when it was offered because it would mean no more football.
"At that point, I was like, maybe track is the way to go just because I didn't want to put that burden on my parents, who were going to have to pay my way through school, if there was a way out," Davis told The Athletic in an August story. "But they and my grandpa were like, We will find a way to make this work. We'll take out loans, whatever we need to do in order to afford you this opportunity to try to pursue what you love.'"
Davis' father and his maternal grandfather were both drug abusers. On the eight-year anniversary of his father's sobriety, Davis and his sister showed up at their dad's house with matching tattoos on the inside of their wrists depicting mind, body and spirit, protected by God, with the date of his sobriety in Roman numerals.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Davis wants to be a firefighter, but if his play on the field is any indication, that job will have to wait until his NFL career is finished. He is a two-time special teams MVP for the Golden Bears, received first-team all-Pac-12 honors from several media outlets and an honorable mention from the league coaches last season. He has 138 career tackles, five interceptions, 10 breakups, 15 passes defended, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Davis tallied seven tackles and one breakup in Cal's 28-20 win Saturday at Ole Miss, bringing the Golden Bears to 4-0. They are the only undefeated team remaining in the Pac-12. Davis is widely projected to be one of the top safeties drafted next spring.
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 SUNY Cortland linebacker Kyle Richard (2018), Wisconsin safety D'Cota Dixon (2017), Pitt 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 Monday, December 30, 2019. For more information on the 2019-2020 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.
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
One Orange Bowl Courage Award