Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Kentucky's Clayton nominated for FedEx Orange Bowl Courage Award

DALLAS (FWAA) - Kentucky's Terry Clayton has been nominated for the FedEx Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award, to be announced at the end of the 2007 season. Clayton, a senior linebacker, was left almost completely deaf after a serious case of chicken pox at age 5. But he walked on to the Wildcats' football team and is an honor-roll student majoring in kinesiology.

Clayton regularly visits the Kentucky School for the Deaf, which he once attended, to encourage the students.

"Battling school and football is tough, so I keep going," Clayton told "I want to be successful and a role model to people who are like me."

Clayton wears hearing aids during classes and football practice, but isn't able to wear them during games. A reserve at weakside linebacker, Clayton has seen action mostly on special teams. He has twice made the SEC Academic Honor Roll.

"Never once has he used his disability as an excuse not to do something," Kentucky linebackers coach Chuck Smith said. "On the field he is a strong, explosive player. He really pays attention and picks things up by watching."

For the second straight year, the Football Writers Association of America and the FedEx Orange Bowl will announce a weekly nominee each Wednesday during the season. A blue-ribbon panel will determine the winner from all of the nominees. The winner of the FedEx Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award will be announced in December and be presented with the trophy.

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.