DALLAS (FWAA) – Florida's David Lerner is the weekly
nominee for the 2011 Discover Orange Bowl/FWAA Courage Award,
to be announced at the end of the season. Lerner, a senior punter
from Gainesville, Fla., won a starting job despite being diagnosed
last summer with Crohn's disease.
Lerner did not see action in his first three seasons with the
Gators. The senior expected to battle for a starting job in August,
but last July, he began experiencing pain and loss of appetite and
was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, a gastrointestinal disorder
afflicts the digestive tract. Lerner lost 15 pounds in the weeks
after the diagnosis, underwent regular IV infusions and occasionally
was restricted to an all-liquid diet.
Despite that, he participated in fall camp with the Gators, where
he battled for the job. Lerner, a walk-on, was awarded a scholarship
in August. He has started six of seven games this season.
"It's an inspiration to me watching him and how he's handling
himself," Florida coach Will Muschamp said. "Tough times don't last,
tough people do. He's a tough young man."
Lerner is averaging 38.3 yards per punt, with seven punts downed
inside opponents' 20-yard line.
"There's never been a time in my life where I have been more
happy to go to practice and be around the guys," Lerner told the
Orlando Sentinel, "even just to get screamed at."
the sixth straight year, the Football Writers Association of
America and the Discover Orange Bowl will announce a
weekly nominee for the Discover Orange Bowl/FWAA Courage Award
each Wednesday during the season. A blue-ribbon panel will determine
the award's recipient from those weekly nominees. The recipient
of the Courage Award will be announced in December and presented
with the trophy in conjunction with this year's Discover Orange
The Courage Award was created by ESPN The Magazine's senior writer
Gene Wojciechowski, also an FWAA member. A select group of FWAA
members vote on the recipient 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
Previous winners of the FWAA's Courage Award are 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).
The Orange Bowl Committee is a 341-member, primarily-volunteer
non-profit sports organization that promotes and serves the South
Florida community. The Orange Bowl Festival features a year-round
schedule of events culminating with the Discover Orange Bowl on
January 4, 2012. Other OBC core events include the MetroPCS Orange
Bowl Basketball Classic, Orange Bowl Youth Football Alliance presented
by Sports Authority, Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships,
Orange Bowl Sailing Regatta Series and Orange Bowl Paddle Championships.
For more information on the 2011-12 Orange Bowl Festival and its
events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities through
the Ambassador Program, visit
The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization
founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,200 men and women 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 gameday operations, major awards and its annual All-America
team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve
Richardson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 972-713-6198.
2011 Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees
• Sept. 28: Shane Blissard and Robbie Stewart, Middle
• Oct. 5: Carson Tinker, Alabama
• Oct. 12: Blaine Irby, Texas
• Oct. 19: David Lerner, Florida
• Oct. 26: Mike James, Miami
• Nov. 2: Arthur Ray Jr., Michigan State
• Nov. 16: Shane Simpson and Jack Long, Missouri
• Orange Bowl Courage Award