DALLAS (FWAA) The Utah Utes football team is this week's nominee for the 2021 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award. Utah beat UCLA on Saturday to move into sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 South on the same night that the program retired the jersey number 22 to honor teammates Ty Jordan and Aaron Lowe, both of whom died within the past year.
The message throughout the team has to been to live the way Jordan and Lowe did, and to be be 22 percent better every day.
"To be 22 percent better means to take advantage of every day with an infectious energy and being optimistic through any obstacles that can arise," quarterback Cam Rising said on the school's athletics website. "Not just on the good days, but even on the bad days, because that is how Ty and Aaron lived their lives."
Jordan died on Dec. 26, 2020. He had just completed a freshman season in which he led all rookies nationally in rushing yards per game (119.4) and was named the Pac-12's Offensive Freshman of the Year. Lowe, who was given the Ty Jordan Memorial Scholarship ahead of this season, was tragically killed on Sept. 26, 2021. Lowe had played in 20 games and had established himself as the Utes' backup nickelback. He had switched his jersey number from No. 2 to No. 22 before this season to honor Jordan's legacy. The school has created the Aaron Lowe Memorial Scholarship in his honor.
Jordan and Lowe were good friends who had attended West Mesquite High together in Texas. This past Saturday, the No. 22 jersey became the first number retired in Utah football history. A video honoring both players now plays at Rice-Eccles Stadium at every home game between the third and fourth quarter, with head coach Kyle Whittingham encouraging fans to live the way that Jordan and Lowe did and to be 22 percent better every day.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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