DALLAS (FWAA) – Marshall’s André Sam is this week’s nominee for the 2022 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award. Sam has battled with stuttering for most of his life, becoming a role model for young people who have speech impediments.
“Do not stop talking like I once did,” Sam said recently in a school video. “For someone to try to say what they really want to say and they can’t say it, it’s hard. For someone who doesn’t know, just take your time with them to make them feel that they can always remain themselves around you. That’s what I look for. I look for people who really want to talk to me and they know that I stutter.”
Sam first began stuttering at the age of 6, shortly after the passing of his father. Sam’s grandfather also died shortly afterward, and the speech disorder stuck with him. The 23-year-old Sam is now gaining more confidence in speaking.
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound safety recorded one tackle for loss and one pass breakup in the Thundering Herd’s 28-7 win Saturday over Gardner-Webb. Sam is fourth on the team in tackles, with 24. He has 2.5 TFLs and a team-best four pass breakups on the season, too, starting in every game for the 3-2 Thundering Herd, who play their first ever Sun Belt Conference game Wednesday night against Louisiana.
An Iowa, La., native, Sam transferred to Marshall this past spring after spending the previous four seasons at McNeese State. Sam was a two-time first-team All-Southland Conference selection with the Cowboys, amassing 179 career tackles, 3.5 TFLs, 0.5 sacks, five interceptions, 20 passes defended and one fumble recovery.
“Football, for me, is like my mind is completely blank,” Sam said. “It’s where I feel comfortable to just be me.”
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 the University of Utah football Team (2021), 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 Orange Bowl
Orange Bowl is a 391-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’s community outreach is embodied by the four pillars of 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 2022 Capital One Orange Bowl on Dec. 30. For more information on the 2022 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.
To submit a nomination for the Capital One Orange Bowl Courage Award, contact Matt Fortuna at email@example.com.