DALLAS (FWAA) – North Carolina's Robert Quinn is
this week's nominee for the 2008 FedEx Orange Bowl/FWAA Courage
Award, to be announced at the end of the season. Quinn, a freshman
defensive end from Ladson, S.C., underwent emergency brain surgery
in October 2007, during his senior year of high school, but has
recovered to earn a starting position for the Tar Heels.
He's a candidate for ACC defensive rookie of the year honors,
with 18 tackles, five tackles for loss, one sack and two forced
fumbles. The forced fumbles came last week, when he also had six
tackles in North Carolina's win over No. 22 Georgia Tech.
But a year ago, no one was sure if Quinn would play football
The 6-5, 260-pound Quinn was considered one of the top recruits
in South Carolina last fall at Fort Dorchester High School, but
suddenly he started missing tackles in high school games, and understanding
the defensive scheme. He also struggled to keep his balance, found
himself occasionally disoriented, and twice fainted.
After the second fainting spell, Quinn's parents rushed him to
the hospital, where a CT scan revealed a tumor blocking his spinal
cavity and causing a buildup of fluids that resulted in swelling
in his brain. A day later – Oct. 29, 2007 – doctors performed five
hours of surgery to relieve the fluid buildup and take a biopsy
of the tumor. Although the tumor could not be removed, it was determined
to be benign.
A nurse told Robert and his family his athletic career was over.
Although it wasn't certain whether Quinn would be able to play football,
North Carolina and several other schools stood by their scholarship
offers. North Carolina coach Butch Davis, who had undergone treatment
for a cancerous growth in his mouth in 2006, told the Raleigh (N.C.)
News & Observer he had "personal empathy with someone going through
the uncertainty of the future."
Quinn's recovery went well. He was cleared to wrestle three months
after the surgery and went on to win his second state title in the
sport. Then, he earned the starting role with the Tar Heels.
"I'm just blessed," Quinn told the newspaper, "and just happy
to get this chance."
the third 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 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 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).
Celebrating its 75th anniversary, the Orange Bowl Committee
is a not-for-profit, 333-member, primarily-volunteer organization.
It is a self-sustaining, independent organization that supports
and produces activities and events that enhance the image, economy
and culture of South Florida. In addition to the 75th edition of
the Orange Bowl Festival, which features a year-round schedule of
events culminating with the FedEx Orange Bowl on January 1, the
Orange Bowl Committee will host the 2009 FedEx BCS Championship
Game on January 8. For more information on the 2008-09 Orange Bowl
Festival and its events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities,
The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit
organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,000 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.
For more information in the FedEx Orange Bowl/FWAA Courage Award,
contact George Schroeder at 541-953-4080 or
2008 Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees
• Sept. 10: Artrell Woods, Oklahoma State
• Sept. 17: Terence Campbell, East Carolina
• Sept. 24: Johnell Neal, Central Florida
• Oct. 1: Wilson Holloway, Tulsa
• Oct. 8: Inquoris "Inky" Johnson, Tennessee
• Oct. 15: Richard Bowman, North Dakota State
• Oct. 22: Tyson Gentry, Ohio State
• Oct. 29: Chris Ogbonnaya, Texas
• Nov. 12: Robert Quinn, North Carolina
• Nov. 19: Brandon Antwine, Florida