Randy Edsall and Obie.
Jan. 4, 2010
MIAMI -- The University of Connecticut football is being honored on Monday and Tuesday as the winner of the 2009 FedEx Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award. The Huskies persevered throughout the 2009 season after the tragic death of starting cornerback Jasper Howard.
The award is being presented at Orange Bowl festivities, including the annual coaches' luncheon Jan. 4 and at the game Jan. 5.
"The entire University of Connecticut football family is very honored to receive the FedEx Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award," UConn coach Randy Edsall said. "Jasper Howard will always live in our thoughts and memories. I am very proud of my team and the way they responded to the tragedy of Jasper's death. Their perseverance both on and off the playing field was incredibly strong and a tribute to the type of student-athlete we have here in our football program here at UConn."
Howard, a 20-year-old junior, died in the early morning hours of Oct. 18, just hours after UConn's homecoming win over Louisville, after he was stabbed after a campus-sponsored dance. The Huskies lost three emotional games following Howard's death - to West Virginia and Rutgers by identical scores of 28-24, after holding the lead late, and 47-45 at Cincinnati.
But the Huskies, whose five losses were by a combined 15 points, finished the year with three straight wins - including a double-overtime win over Notre Dame on Nov. 21 and a 29-27 win over South Florida on Dave Teggart's field goal on the final play. UConn defeated South Carolina in the Papajohns.com Bowl on Jan. 2.
For the fourth straight year, the Football Writers Association of America and the FedEx Orange Bowl announced a weekly nominee each Wednesday during the season. A blue-ribbon panel determined the winner from all of the nominees.
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 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).