DALLAS (FWAA) – Sam Houston State senior
linebacker Eric Fieilo is the first weekly nominee
for the 2013 Discover Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award
that will be announced at the end of the season. Overcoming a serious
neck injury suffered at the beginning of last season, Fieilo leads
the Bearkats in tackles a year later.
Early in the first quarter of Sam Houston State's 2012 season
opener against Incarnate Word, Fieilo made a tackle and landed awkwardly.
After laying motionless on the field for several minutes, he was
immobilized and taken to the hospital.
"I really thought I was paralyzed when I was on the floor," Fieilo
told The Houstonian later. "[The trainers] thought I was paralyzed,
too. The only thing I could do was move my head."
After Fieilo regained feeling in his extremities, he was diagnosed
with a slipped disc in his vertebrae, which was removed and replaced.
Doctors took a bone from Fieilo's hip to replace the slipped disc.
While recovering from the surgery that left scars on his neck and
side, Fieilo sat out last season and helped the coaching staff.
Through the first four games of the 2013 season, Fieilo had racked
up 28 tackles, two for losses, including one sack. During No.4-ranked
Sam Houston State's only loss of the season to Division I Football
Bowl Subdivision Texas A&M, Fieilo intercepted Heisman Trophy-winning
quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Fieilo, married with a child, plans a career in law enforcement.
He maintains a 3.00-plus GPA.
For the eighth straight year, the Football Writers Association
of America and the Discover Orange Bowl will announce weekly nominees
during the season. A blue-ribbon panel of FWAA members will determine
the winner from all of the nominees.
Courage Award was created by ESPN's senior columnist 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
Previous winners of the FWAA's Courage Award are Clemson wide
receiver Daniel Rodriguez (2012), Michigan State offensive lineman
Arthur Ray Jr. (2011), 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
The Orange Bowl is a 351-member, primarily-volunteer
non-profit sports organization that promotes and serves the South
Florida community. The Orange Bowl features a year-round schedule
of events culminating with the Discover Orange Bowl on January 3,
2014. Other Orange Bowl 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 International Youth Regatta, Orange Bowl Swim Classic
and Orange Bowl Paddle Championships. For more information on the
2013-14 Orange Bowl events, including promotional and volunteer
opportunities through the Ambassador Program, visit www.orangebowl.org.
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.
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 email@example.com or 972-713-6198.
2013 Discover Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees
Sept. 25: Eric Fieilo, San Houston State
• Oct. 2: Gabe Woullard, East Carolina
Oct. 9: Bryson James, South Alabama
Oct. 16: Anthony Larceval, San José State
Oct. 23: Jim Weaver, Virginia Tech
Oct. 30: L'Damian Washington, Missouri
Nov. 6: Josh Stewart, Oklahoma State
Nov. 13: Case McCoy, Texas
Nov. 20: Coaching Staff, Minnesota
Orange Bowl Courage Award