Darius Nall nominated for Courage Award
From the Football Writers Association of America
DALLAS (FWAA) – Central Florida’s Darius Nall is the weekly nominee for the 2009 FedEx Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award, to be announced at the end of the season. Nall, a sophomore defensive end from Douglasville, Ga., has overcome cancer that required three surgeries, the last to remove a baseball-sized tumor from his chest.
Nall was honored as one of Conference USA’s best freshmen in 2007, but was diagnosed during the summer of 2008 with cancer. He underwent surgery on July 9, 2008, to remove the mass. The procedure was followed by radiation therapy.
Nall was declared a cancer survivor last November. He returned to football last spring.
“I don’t take anything for granted anymore,” he told Florida Today. “Not even life in general. As for football, this is what I do best. I’m just so happy to be back out there again.”
Nall has been an important factor on UCF’s defense. Through five games, the 6-3, 249-pounder shares the team lead in quarterback pressures.
“He’s stronger and bigger than he was before the cancer, and that’s showing on the field,” UCF coach George O’Leary told the Orlando Sentinel. “I’ve been very pleased with him and so have his teammates. I don’t think they understand how serious his cancer was. He’s fortunate to be back, and we’re happy to have him back.”
For the fourth straight year, the Football Writers Association of America and the FedEx Orange Bowl will announce a weekly nominee each Wednesday during the season. A blue-ribbon panel will determine the winner from all of the nominees. The winner of the FedEx Orange Bowl/FWAA Courage Award will be announced in December and be presented with the trophy.
The Courage Award was created by ESPN The Magazine’s senior writer Gene Wojciechowski, also a FWAA member. 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.
Previous winners of the FWAA’s Courage Award are 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).