DALLAS (FWAA) – Clemson defensive back/wide receiver
Ray Ray McElrathbey is the winner of the 2006 FedEx Orange
Bowl-FWAA Courage Award, which is annually given to a player,
coach or support person in college football who displays courage,
on or off the field.
McElrathbey, a redshirt freshman, saw most of his action on special
teams this season. But he has undertaken the responsibility of caring
for his 11-year-old brother, Fahmarr (now 12).
Ray Ray and Fahmarr's mother has a cocaine addiction; their father
has a gambling addiction. The brothers' home life in Atlanta was
not stable and both had spent time in foster care.
Ray Ray obtained temporary custody of Fahmarr and planned to
support him with Pell grants, odd jobs and the monthly stipend for
After news of Ray Ray McElrathbey's situation was publicized,
Clemson sought a waiver to allow a trust fund that would help McElrathbey
care for his brother. The NCAA granted the waiver within 48 hours,
citing the unique circumstances.
Also because of the waiver, Clemson coaches' families are allowed
to help Ray Ray care for Fahmarr when it comes to transportation
to and from school and other basic needs.
Ray Ray told The New York Times the NCAA's decision "lifted a
little weight from my shoulders." But Clemson coach Tommy Bowden,
among others, noted the heavy burden of responsibility Ray Ray had
"I could not fathom a 19-year-old freshman being a father, going
to school and playing college football," Clemson coach Tommy Bowden
said. "I could not imagine at that age handling all the responsibilities
that Ray Ray has done this year.
"It has been quite a story because I see the players, coaches
and their families doing what they can to help Ray Ray and Fahmarr.
"Ray Ray is very deserving of this award from the Football Writers
Association of America and the FedEx Orange Bowl."
Following the Tigers' bowl game, McElrathbey plans to be at the
FedEx Orange Bowl, where he will be presented the Courage Award
Trophy and will receive a donation from the Orange Bowl Foundation
for the Fahmarr McElrathbey Trust.
McElrathbey was the team's special teams player of the week after
recording four tackles against Florida Atlantic. He played defensive
back the first 11 games, but moved to receiver before the regular-season
finale against South Carolina. He will remain at receiver in the
bowl game and next spring.
McElrathbey was selected by a blue-ribbon panel of FWAA members,
who made their determination from a pool of nominees honored each
week during the 2006 football season.
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
for the weekly award include displaying some sort of courageous
act, on or off the field including, overcoming an injury or physical
handicap, preventing a disaster and living through a lifetime of
Previous winners of the FWAA's Courage Award are the Tulane football
team (2005), Memphis' Haracio Colen (2004), San Jose State's Neil
Parry (2003) and Toledo's William Bratton (2002).
The Orange Bowl Committee is a not-for-profit, 329-member,
all-volunteer organization that exists as a self-sustaining, independent
organization supporting and producing activities and events which
enhance the image, economy, and culture of South Florida . Among
the OBC core events are the Orange Bowl Festival, FedEx Orange Bowl
and World-Class Halftime Show, the MetroPCS Orange Bowl Basketball
Classic, the WaMu Orange Bowl Fan Fest presented by the City of
Miami, the Budweiser Orange Bowl Tailgate Party, Boston Market Orange
Bowl Youth Football Championships, Orange Bowl Cheer & Dance Championships,
Orange Bowl Swim Classic, Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships
and Orange Bowl Sailing Regatta Series.
The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit
organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 900 men and
women across North America who cover college football for a living.
The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists,
as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game.
The FWAA works to govern areas that include game day operations,
major awards, a national poll and its annual All-America team.
2006 Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees
• Sept. 20: Ray Ray McElrathbey, Clemson
• Sept. 27: Martel Van Zant, Oklahoma State
• Oct. 4: Terry Hoeppner, Indiana
• Oct. 11: Dan Howell, Washington
• Oct. 18: Eddie Martin, Navy
• Oct. 25: Bill Doba, Washington State
• Nov. 1: Jerry Kill, Southern Illinois
• Nov. 8: Carl Pendleton, Oklahoma
• Nov. 15: Mike Tepper, California
• Nov. 29: Carlos Garcia, Oregon State
• FedEx Orange Bowl Courage