DALLAS (FWAA) – North Carolina’s Tylee Craft is this week’s nominee for the 2022 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award. Craft, a junior wide receiver, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer earlier this year but has been heavily involved with the football program while sharing his journey with the public to raise awareness for the disease.
"It was natural just to try to think positive, and I knew I had to think positive and set goals for myself to look for and to get to down the line," Craft told the Daily Tar Heel. "So I can beat this and not just get caught up in the moment and feel sorry for myself and ‘Why me?' — I’m just staying positive and rolling with the punches that I was thrown.”
In March, Craft was diagnosed with Stage 4 large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma, a rare form of lung cancer. His lesions are currently stable, and he has one round of chemotherapy remaining, followed by a round of scans to determine the next course of action. Through it all, Craft has attended practices, workouts and meetings, all with the intent of one day returning to the field for the Tar Heels.
Craft has looked to inspire those who are battling the disease, visiting UNC Health every Friday before home games to visit with patients and their families, sharing his story and offering encouragement. Craft, a native of Sumter, S.C., has also become an ambassador for the White Ribbon Project, which brings together people who are dealing with lung cancer and builds awareness around the disease.
The 6-foot-5, 200-pound Craft appeared in 11 games across his first two seasons with the Tar Heels, who are currently No. 15 in the College Football Playoff rankings and are all alone in first place of the ACC Coastal division at 8-1 overall and 5-0 in conference play.
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 email@example.com.
To submit a nomination for the Capital One Orange Bowl Courage Award, contact Matt Fortuna at firstname.lastname@example.org.