Edward Aschoff Rising Star Award goes to Wilson Alexander

Alexander, a Jim Murray Scholar, worked at two newspapers covering sports before arriving in Baton Rouge.
Alexander, a Jim Murray Scholar, worked at two newspapers covering sports before arriving in Baton Rouge.

DALLAS (FWAA)Wilson Alexander of The Advocate is the fourth recipient of the Edward Aschoff Rising Star Award, which is presented annually by the Football Writers Association of America and named after the beloved ESPN college football reporter who died on Christmas Eve in 2019 on his 34th birthday from previously undetected Stage 4 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in his lungs.

Wilson AlexanderAlexander, 27, said he is deeply honored to receive the award selected by a panel of FWAA members.

“I unfortunately never met Ed, but I always admired his work,” Alexander said. “His passion and care for other people came through in his stories, and whenever I saw him on television, there was an obvious joy in his reporting. I feel deeply honored to receive an award named in his honor and follow three winners who I look up to in the industry.”

Richard Johnson of Sports Illustrated was the third winner of this award in 2022. In 2021, Grace Raynor, who covers the Clemson Tigers for The Athletic, won the second Rising Star award. David Ubben, also of The Athletic, was the first recipient in 2020 as a beat reporter for the Tennessee Volunteers.

Alexander, a University of Georgia graduate in 2018 with a certificate from the Grady Sports Media Program, started at The Advocate in February 2019 and did not take long to become a star at the newspaper.

“Wilson is entering his third season as the lead LSU football beat writer,” said Scott Rabalais of The Advocate. “That is one of the most pivotal writing positions in our entire news organization, and he has met the challenge of covering this highly competitive and highly scrutinized beat with professionalism, intelligence and dedication.”

Alexander, a Jim Murray Scholar, worked at two newspapers covering sports before arriving in Baton Rouge: The Clarion-Ledger in 2018-19 and the Macon Telegraph in 2017-2018. He also served as the sports editor of the Red & Black at Georgia for five months in 2017. He oversaw a staff of 30 people “guiding writers through writing and reporting; determining the weekly paper’s sports content.” He hosted a weekly podcast, ran the sports desk Twitter Account, created graphics for social media, and launched a video division of the sports desk that produced post-game recaps and analysis.

“I've wanted to be in sports media since I watched College GameDay for the first time when I was 10 years old,” Alexander said. “It felt natural coming from a family of storytellers, and I took to writing in college. Later in my career, I am interested in leading a sports media department like the one we had at Georgia. I would like to help students break into the profession the way my teachers helped me.”

In Baton Rouge, he has learned the culture quickly of one of college football’s most dynamic programs.

“Though not a native Louisianan, he has been a quick study in getting his arms around this enormous job,” Rabalais added. “He is adept at both in-depth enterprise and feature reporting and has worked hard to develop sources and stay on top of the breaking news that is vital to this beat. On top of that, Wilson is one of the most affable writers I have ever worked with. He is friendly yet dogged at securing the smallest details for his stories, qualities that have combined to make him a quintessential rising star in our profession.”

Alexander credits Vicki Michaelis, the head of the sports media program at Georgia, for his success: “Professor Michaelis provided invaluable guidance and helped develop my confidence as a writer. I wouldn't be where I am without the lessons she taught us.”

Alexander has claimed several awards for his writing in various Associated Press and Collegiate Press competitions.

Examples of Wilson Alexander’s recent work:

LSU's other Super Bowl QB: David Woodley, his mysterious life and his search for acceptance

Brian Kelly came to LSU to win the one thing he doesn't have: a national championship

The Griddy took off without the man who created the dance. He wants you to know his name

Pool parties with Brian Kelly, photoshoots and so much food: Inside an LSU official visit

Remembering Edward Aschoff

Aschoff graduated from the University of Florida in 2008 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. After covering Gators football, basketball and baseball from 2007 to 2011 for The Gainesville Sun, he joined ESPN in 2011 as an SEC reporter and distinguished himself as a rising star.

Aschoff moved to Los Angeles in 2017 to begin a more expanded national role that included television coverage. Over three seasons, he reported from campuses across the country for ESPN.com, SportsCenter, SEC Network and ESPN Radio, and he worked as a television and radio sideline reporter during college football games.

 Aschoff inspired us through his storytelling, brightened our lives with his gregarious personality, and uplifted our spirits with his energy. The FWAA hopes to honor his memory and his commitment to aspiring journalists with this award.

Edward Aschoff"Edward epitomized everything you want in a sports journalist: He knew how to build relationships, to gain trust, to break stories but also to tell stories," said ESPN.com's Andrea Adelson. "And he did it all with a flair that made you want to watch his television pieces or read his written stories right away. His dogged determination and relentless work ethic allowed him to rise to the top at ESPN, and all his exemplary qualities serve as a model for young journalists everywhere about what truly can be achieved if you go after what you want."

The University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications has established the Edward Aschoff Memorial Fund, which will provide support for students involved in sports journalism.

"Edward was one of our stars – not just because he was so talented as a journalist and storyteller, but also because of everything he did to help people around him. He always had a good word of advice for young journalists, he was always willing to give back, and he always made people smile," said Ted Spiker, chair of the department of journalism at the University of Florida who taught Edward in several classes at UF.

“Ed is a prime example of how representation matters,” SI’s Johnson said. “There are unfortunately too few Black people covering this sport, and for as long as I’d known him, seeing Ed on television or his byline on the website was proof positive that he’d made it in this industry and that I could too. You could say I basically followed his blueprint from UF’s journalism school to covering the Gators all the way to ESPN, and it was an honor to shout him out during my first season on the SEC Network."

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 game-day 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 tiger@fwaa.com.