Football Writers Association of America Oct. 21, 2015
For Immediate Release
Contact: Daniel Pyser
Auburn assistant returns after cancer surgery
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DALLAS (FWAA) – Auburn assistant coach J.B. Grimes is this week's nominee for the 2015 Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award.


Grimes, in his third year as the Tigers' offensive line coach, underwent surgery to remove a cancerous spot on his tongue and removal of his lymph nodes less than a week before fall camp. He did not miss any practice time.

"That's a very tough guy with some big energy," said left tackle Shon Coleman, who was a Courage Award nominee last year for overcoming leukemia in his senior year of high school. "Nothing can stop him from being a part of our team and moving us forward. He believes in us that much. If one of us gets hurt, we're going to look over and see what he went through, and he's been through a lot. That respect for him has brought us closer. We want to play great to show him what he has done for us means."

Added right guard Braden Smith: "That's one tough dude. Having surgery, then going back out to practice with a bunch of staples in your neck – that had to be incredible pain, but he made us feel like it would hurt him more to be away from us. Any man who can be in extreme pain and still think of us first is a man of courage and heart. We want to give back for him any way we can. The bond between player and coach is very special in our room."

Grimes had told Auburn's official athletic website that a biopsy showed cancer on his tongue. Although a CAT scan did not show cancer in his lymph nodes, they were removed as a precaution, which Grimes said is not uncommon. Grimes had the surgery on a Wednesday and was back on the job on the ensuing Monday for the start of camp.

The Courage Award was first presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) in 2002. 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. The winner of the award will be included in festivities during Capital One Orange Bowl week and receive his trophy at an on-field presentation.

Previous winners of the award are Duke offensive lineman Laken Tomlinson (2014), San Josι State defensive lineman Anthony Larceval (2013), 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 Josι State's Neil Parry (2003) and Toledo's William Bratton (2002).

About the Orange Bowl
The Orange Bowl is a 363-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 College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl on December 31, 2015. 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 2015-16 Orange Bowl events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities through the Ambassador Program presented by Panera Bread, log on to Follow Orange Bowl: @OrangeBowl, Facebook and Instagram.

Celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2015, the Football Writers Association of America consists of 1,400 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 game-day operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, or to submit a nomination for this year’s Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award, contact Steve Richardson at

2015 Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees
• Sept. 16: Bobby Swigert, Boston College
• Sept. 23: Jake Olson, USC
• Sept. 30: Anthony Zettel, Penn State
• Oct. 7: Leonard Fournette, LSU
• Oct. 14: Cheatham Norrils, Toledo
• Oct. 21: J.B. Grimes, Auburn
• Oct. 28: D.J. Foster, Arizona State
• Nov. 4: Demetrious Nicholson, Virginia
• Nov. 11: Jerry Kill, Minnesota
• Nov. 18: Mitchell Meyers, Iowa State
• Nov. 25: Hunter Knighton, Miami
• Dec. 2: Justin Hansen, Colorado State

Related link:
• Capital One Orange Bowl Courage Award