DALLAS (FWAA) Cal's Elijah Hicks is this week's nominee for the 2021 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award. Hicks, a fifth-year senior safety, has used the struggles of his childhood as fuel to provide numerous opportunities for the less fortunate, from raising money during the COVID-19 pandemic to working with a school food scarcity operation.
"I have a big family, 12 (siblings) including me, and I have family members who are in college who don't have a scholarship and family members who had to drop out and get a job because they couldn't focus on school," Hicks told reporters this week. "Being here at Cal, you're going to class with people who have to go to bed without eating or they may be eating a lot of Top Ramen, I relate to that struggle because those were things I had to do growing up. I want to figure out ways to help, I'm not the type of dude to complain about issues and problems, I'm going to find ways to solve them. I wanted to create some type of action."
Hicks has an interest in teaching financial literacy, as money was tight in his family while he was growing up. The Long Beach, Calif., native raised more than $67,000 last year to benefit No Kid Hungry during the pandemic. Hicks founded the Intercept Poverty Foundation, which helps low income students overcome financial roadblocks. He says he has had $35,000 donated already for a recently-launched emergency grant program for Cal students.
Hicks was a member of the AFCA Allstate Good Works Team last year and is currently a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, billed by the National Football Foundation as "the academic Heisman." He graduated in December 2020 with a bachelor's degree in American studies and earned a certificate in Cal's entrepreneurship program.
On the field, the 5-foot-11, 200-pounder is Cal's active career leader in tackles (169) and forced fumbles (four). He has played in 47 career games and started 39, amassing nine tackles for loss, two sacks, two picks, 12 pass breakups and 14 passes defended.
Hicks has lived up to his preseason billing this fall as an honorable mention All-Pac-12 selection, as he is currently tied for second on the Bears in tackles (28) and tied for first in forced fumbles (two).
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 Arkansas State analyst Alex Charlton (2020), Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson (2019), 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 380-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 through its Orange Bowl Cares program: Youth Sports, Education, Community Engagement and Legacy Programs. Orange Bowl features a year-round schedule of events culminating with the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl on Dec. 31, 2021. For more information on the 2021 Orange Bowl events, including promotional inquiries and volunteer opportunities through the Ambassador Program presented by Panera Bread, log on to orangebowl.org or follow @OrangeBowl on social media.
Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of journalists, broadcasters, publicists, photographers and key executives in all areas of college football. The FWAA works to govern media access and gameday operations while presenting awards and honors, including an annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its programs and initiatives, contact Executive Director Steve Richardson at 214-870-6516 or email@example.com.
2021 Capital One Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees
Sept. 22: McKenzie Milton, Florida State
· Sept. 29: Yohance Burnett, Tulsa
· Oct. 6: J.J. Weaver, Kentucky
· Oct. 13: Elijah Hicks, Cal
· Oct. 20: Eli Thomas, Minnesota State
· Oct. 27: Taijh Alston, West Virginia
· Nov. 3: Utah Utes
· Nov. 10: Vederian Lowe, Illinois
· Nov. 17: Tre Tipton, Pitt
· Nov. 24: Tanner Morgan, Minnesota