Wednesday, October 31, 2007

New Mexico's Smith nominated for FedEx Orange Bowl Courage Award

DALLAS (FWAA) – New Mexico's Marcus Smith has been nominated for the FedEx Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award, to be announced at the end of the 2007 season. Smith, a senior wide receiver who leads the Mountain West in receptions and receiving yards, has overcome the death of his mother in September to help the Lobos contend for the Mountain West title.

Sheila Smith, 52, died in her sleep of natural causes Sept. 16. A few hours earlier, Marcus Smith had 11 catches for 164 yards in New Mexico's 29-27 win at Arizona. Shortly afterward, Smith learned he would have to pay funeral expenses of approximately $6,000. Through a memorial fund, donors raised the money.

I got a few letters from BYU fans -- fans from a team that we have an intense rivalry with," Smith told The Associated Press. "I didn't expect that. Fans in Virginia, fans in northern California sent stuff. It was really, really shocking."

Smith credits his mother with insisting he remain at New Mexico when he wanted to transfer; he didn't want to move from tailback to receiver.

"She made me stay," Smith said. "Me being here and on track to graduate is all from her influence on me."

He leads the Mountain West in receptions (7.38 average) and receiving yards (90.4 average). The Lobos (6-2, 3-1) play at TCU on Saturday.

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.