DALLAS (FWAA) Illinois' Vederian Lowe is this week's nominee for the 2021 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award. Lowe, a fifth-year senior, is a married father of two boys who also received legal guardianship of his 15-year-old brother after their mother passed away.
"These are things that have happened to me that I never thought would happen at this age," Lowe told Illini Inquirer earlier this year. "I always wanted to get married and have a family and all that, but I never thought I'd be a senior in college and it would all be done. It definitely feels put together, though. I'm glad I got my life started like this earlier than later. It has really helped me in all aspects of my life. It has helped me prioritize things that needed to be prioritized. It helped me prioritize school, stay on that and get that done and not slacking off on that. It's also made me a better man and a better football player. I'm glad it's happened the way it has."
Lowe married his wife, Haylee, earlier this year. The couple has two sons, Kingston and Trey. When Vederian's mother, Veneka Cockrell, died in July of 2019, Vederan and Haylee took in Vederian's brother, Vydalis. Vederian announced that his family had officially gained legal guardianship of Vydalis this past July on the same day that Vederian spoke at the Big Ten's annual kickoff luncheon at media days, as chosen by the league. Lowe is also a semifinalist for the Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award, which recognizes a player who leads on and off the field.
On the field, the 6-foot-6, 320-pound Lowe has started 50 games across the past five years for the Illini, which is tied with fellow offensive lineman Alex Palczewski for a school career record. Lowe made his 44th consecutive start this past Saturday, as Illinois upset No. 20 Minnesota, 14-6, marking the Fighting Illini's first ever win over an opponent that was ranked by the College Football Playoff selection committee.
Lowe, a Rockford, Ill., native, earned honorable mention All-Big Ten recognition in 2020, and this year he has helped pave the way for a Illini ground game that averages 180.2 rushing yards per contest. Illinois is 4-6 overall and 3-4 in Big Ten play as it enters an open date this weekend, needing to win its last two games to become bowl eligible.
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