DALLAS (FWAA) – Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand is the weekly nominee for the 2010 Discover Orange Bowl Courage Award, to be announced at the end of the season by the Football Writers Association of America.
LeGrand, a junior from Avenel, N.J., was paralyzed from the neck down Oct. 16, while making a tackle against Army.
The most recent news is encouraging. LeGrand is continuing his rehabilitation at Kessler Institute in West Orange, N.J. Last week, he was taken off a ventilator, and is able to breathe on his own. His injury was recently reclassified from a complete spinal cord injury to an incomplete spinal cord injury.
LeGrand, a backup defensive tackle, suffered the injury while making a tackle on a kickoff during the fourth quarter. He collided with Army's Malcolm Brown, then lay motionless on the field for several minutes. He underwent emergency surgery to stabilize his spine. Damage was to the C-3 and C-4 level of the vertebrae.
"As I talked to our team, we are going to believe that Eric is going to walk onto that field again," Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said shortly after the injury.
LeGrand has had several visitors. His coaches and teammates have written notes to him and sent him DVDs. In the first few days after the injury, more than 18,000 e-mails to LeGrand were sent through the school's website, scarletknights.com.
"We know it's going to be a long road," Schiano said a few days after the injury. "It's going to be one step at a time and we're going to do this as a family, the LeGrand family, the Rutgers football family. That's the way we are going to approach it.:
The "Eric LeGrand Believe Fund" has been set up to help finance his treatment. For information, visit www.scarletknights.com/believe.
"We want to thank everyone for all of the love and support for Eric, it has really been beneficial to his recovery," the LeGrand family said in a statement. "Please continue to keep Eric in your prayers."
For the fifth straight year, the Football Writers Association of America and the Discover Orange Bowl will announce a weekly nominee for the Discover Orange Bowl 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 Bowl.
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 through hardship.
Previous winners of the FWAA's Courage Award are the Connecticut Huskies (2009), Tulsa's Wilson Holloway (2008), Navy's Zerbin Singleton (2007), Clemson's Ray Ray McElrathbey (2006), the Tulane Green Wave (2005), Memphis' Haracio Colen (2004), San Jose State's Neil Parry (2003) and Toledo's William Bratton (2002).
The Orange Bowl Committee is a not-for-profit, 343-member, primarily-volunteer organization. It is a self-sustaining, independent organization that supports and produces activities and events that enhance the image, economy and culture of South Florida. The Orange Bowl Festival features a year-round schedule of events culminating with the Discover Orange Bowl on January 3, 2011. 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 and Orange Bowl Sailing Regatta Series. For more information on the 2010-11 Orange Bowl Festival and its events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities through the Ambassador Program, visit www.orangebowl.org.