Fort Worth, Texas (FWAA) – Three individuals
have been named as finalists for the 2020 Armed Forces Merit
Award presented by the Football Writers Association
announcement of the 2020 recipient will be made via a 10 a.m. (CT)
teleconference Wednesday, Nov. 11 – Veteran’s Day – by Lockheed
Martin Armed Forces Bowl Executive Director Brant Ringler and FWAA
President Matt Fortuna.
One of the three individuals for the 2020 Armed Forces Merit
Award presented by the FWAA was also finalists in 2019 when Army
West Point assistant coach Mike Viti was announced last November
as the eighth recipient.
Defensive lineman and Marine veteran Alexander Findura
of Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania leads the list of three
individuals named as 2020 finalists after he advanced to the final
round of voting in 2019.
The other two 2020 Armed Forces Merit Award finalists are defensive
lineman and Army veteran Collin O'Donnell of Bluefield
College of Virginia and defensive back coach and Air Force veteran
The Armed Forces Merit Award’s selection committee is made up
of seven FWAA members and two representatives from the Lockheed
Martin Armed Forces Bowl. A total of 38 individuals and three programs
were nominated for the 2019 award that was created in June 2012
“to honor an individual and/or a group with a military background
and/or involvement that has an impact within the realm of college
Other recipients for the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by
the FWAA were Nate Boyer of the University of Texas (2012), Brandon
McCoy of the University of North Texas (2013), Daniel Rodriguez
from Clemson University (2014), Bret Robertson of Westminster College
(Fulton, Mo., 2015), Steven Rhodes from Middle Tennessee State University
(2016) and Dr. Chris Howard from Robert Morris University (2018).
Boyer (long snapper), McCoy (defensive lineman), Rodriquez (wide
receiver) and Robertson (defensive back) served in the Army before
playing collegiate football. A Marine, Rhodes played four seasons
at Middle Tennessee and participated in the 2013 Lockheed Martin
Armed Forces Bowl with the Blue Raiders.
A 1991 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, Dr. Howard
was a Rhodes Scholar and received the 1990 Campbell Trophy, the
highest academic award in the nation presented to a senior college
football player. A member of the College Football Playoff Selection
Committee (2017-2019), Dr. Howard was inducted into the CoSIDA Academic
All-America Hall of Fame and a recipient of the NCAA Silver Anniversary
Award, which recognizes distinguished individuals on the 25th anniversary
of the conclusion of their collegiate athletic careers.
Kansas State and its football team were honored in November 2017
as the sixth recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award for the university’s
partnership with the United States Army that created a bond between
the school’s athletic department and the Iron Rangers at Fort Riley.
Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA: 2020
Alexander Findura is a senior defensive lineman at Bloomsburg
University where he has appeared in 29 career games and compiled
83 total tackles (41 solos) with 9.5 sacks,22 tackles for losses
with two forced fumbles and six pass deflections. In 2019, Findura
started in all 11 games for Bloomsburg and totaled 57 tackles along
with leading the team in sacks (7) and tackles for a loss (16.5).
Findura started his collegiate career at Georgia State where he
was redshirted as a freshman in 2011. With a family history of military
service (father in the Navy and grandfather an Army veteran), Findura
joined the Marines is the summer of 2012. Before his arrival to
Bloomsburg University, Alex Findura served four years in the United
States Marines and, during his service, was a member of an elite
team known as the Body Bearers. The section's primary mission is
to bear the caskets at funerals for Marines, former Marines, and
Marine family members at Arlington National Cemetery and the surrounding
cemeteries in the National Capital Region. On occasion, they are
called to travel to locations around the country to support funerals
for senior statesmen, heads of state, and former Presidents of the
United States. Entering his fourth season of play at Bloomsburg
as a defensive lineman, Findura was named in September as one 22
student-athletes across the country named to the 2020 Allstate AFCA
Good Works Team®.
Collin O’Donnell, a junior defensive lineman at Bluefield College,
serving in the U.S Army from 2013-2016 and was injured in Afghanistan.
After two years at Walter Reed National Military Medical Hospital
and seven operations to save his foot, he fully rehabilitated and
went back home to Buffalo, N.Y. where he began training with the
sole intention of playing college football. While at Walter Reed
National Military Medical Hospital, O’Donnell was invited to the
White House, where former President Barack Obama personally awarded
him the Presidential Call to Service Award for his outstanding service
to community. In his first two season playing at Bluefield, O’Donnell
has compiled 34 total tackles in 15 games, including 16 unassisted
stops. O’Donnell has 7.5 tackles for losses (19.5 yards), one quarterback
sack (seven yards) and two passes broken up. O’Donnell, who maintains
a 3.33 accumulative grade point average, has volunteered to be an
ambassador for the school and leads tours for prospective students.
He O’Donnell received the 2019 Richmond Touchdown Club Man of the
Year Award this past December, one of the highest honors a College
football player in the state of Virginia can receive. In the fall
of 2019, O’Donnell won the Tazewell County Business Challenge for
entrepreneurs and opened his Coffee and Bake shop called “The Grind”
in May 2020. O’Donnell received Bluefield College’s 2019 Champion
of Character award from the Mid-South Conference.
Charlton Warren is in the midst of his second-season as a defensive
backfield coach at the University of Georgia. In his first season
on the Georgia staff, the Bulldogs led the nation in scoring and
rushing defense and ranked among FBS leaders in several other categories.
A native of Atlanta, Ga., Warren has coached previously at the U.
S. Air Force Academy (2005-2013), Nebraska (2014), North Carolina
(2015-2016), Tennessee (2017) and Florida (2019). Warren also participated
in the NFL minority internship program in 2007 with the Houston
Texans. Warren was a member of the Air Force coaching staff that
competed in four Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl games (2007-2009,
2012). In the Falcons’ 47-20 win over Houston in the 2009 games,
Air Force's defense held 2009 NCAA leading passer, Case Keenum to
222 yards and only one touchdown while intercepting him six times.
Warren was a three-year letterman at defensive back for Air Force,
and helped the program achieve consecutive 10-win seasons in 1997
and 1998. A 1999 Air Force graduate a degree in Human Factors Engineering,
Warren was stationed at Warner Robins AFB in Georgia from 2000-2003
where he was a C-130 avionics program manager. Before returning
to the Academy in 2005, Warren was stationed at Eglin AFB in Florida
as an air-to-ground weapons program manager for the Air Armament
ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates
a portfolio of 35 collegiate sporting events nationwide. The roster
includes four early-season college football games, 17 college bowl
games, 11 college basketball events, a college softball event and
two college award shows, which accounts for approximately 400 hours
of live programming, reaches nearly 64 million viewers and attracts
over 800,000 attendees each year. With satellite offices in more
than 10 markets across the country, ESPN Events builds relationships
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the official website, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube pages.
The Football Writers Association of America
consists of the men and women across North America who cover college
football for a living. Founded in 1941, 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 an All-America
team. Through its website, the FWAA works to improve communication
among all those who work within the game. Behind the leadership
of President Doug Lesmerises of Cleveland.com, Executive Director
Steve Richardson and a board of veteran journalists, the FWAA continues
grow and work to help college football prosper at all levels. There
are now over 1,000 members.
Armed Forces Merit Award
• 2020 Armed Forces Merit Award nominees
the Armed Forces Merit Award logo (.jpg)