Alabama's Ronnie Clark Nominated for Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award

 

111817_MFB_Mercer_KG1250Alabama’s Ronnie Clark is this week’s nominee for the 2017 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award.

Clark, a redshirt junior, has overcome two Achilles tears and health problems with his family to earn playing time for the No. 5 Crimson Tide.

Clark’s mother, Kimberly, was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy when Ronnie was about 12 years old. With his father gone three-to-four days a week for work as a train conductor, Ronnie became his mother’s primary caretaker, even learning to drive before he was 16 so he could run errands. He also took care of his grandmother, who was fighting a brain tumor.

“My mom is one of my biggest motivators,” Clark told The Athletic this fall. “What she’s going through with muscular dystrophy really motivates me to do what I do and to keep my head on straight.”
A former four-star recruit out of Calera, Ala., Clark redshirted as a freshman before tearing his left Achilles three games into the 2015 season. He then tore his right Achilles just four games into 2016. He has played safety, tight end and running back for the Tide.

Kimberly, who has lost most use of the left side of her body, calls Ronnie on a daily basis and uses her right hand to text him scripture verses every morning after she wakes up and prays.

The 6-foot-2, 224-pound Clark has rushed for 107 yards on 21 carries this season, including his first career touchdown in a Sept. 30 win against Ole Miss. As a high school senior, Clark was presented with the USA Today Inspiration Award.

The Courage Award was first presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) in 2002. 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. The winner of the award will be included in festivities during Capital One Orange Bowl week and receive his trophy at an on-field presentation.

Previous winners of the Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award are Pittsburgh running back James Conner (2016), Miami offensive lineman Hunter Knighton (2015), Duke offensive lineman Laken Tomlinson (2014), San Jose State defensive lineman Anthony Larceval (2013), Clemson wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez (2012), Michigan State offensive lineman Arthur Ray Jr. (2011), Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand (2010), the University of Connecticut football team (2009), 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).

 

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