Georgia Southern Right Tackle Drew Wilson Named as Seventh Nominee for 2019 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award
MIAMI LAKES, Fla. – Georgia Southern’s Drew Wilson is this week’s nominee for the 2019 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award. Wilson, a redshirt junior, has started all seven games at right tackle for the Eagles after undergoing four surgeries to repair a detached retina in his right eye.
"When this incident first happened, I didn't know if I'd be able to come back or not," Wilson said on the school’s athletics website. "It's just a blessing. God has a plan for all of us and his plan is good for me. I just had to keep the faith because there were some really dark times. With all the doctors who told me I was out, I started to accept that I needed to start looking toward life after football. But my parents wouldn't let me give up even when I thought about hanging it up. My body was tired, I was tired of having surgeries and I was a little depressed. But if it wasn't for my family, I wouldn't be back out here playing today."
Wilson’s vision got blurry in the spring of 2018. Athletic trainers initially thought this may have been an onset of pre-diabetes, but it turned out to be a detached retina, even if no one can say for sure how that happened. Multiple surgeries to repair the retina forced him to miss the entire year.
He could not participate in many team activities because of his sensitivity to light. He could not even take online classes that fall, given the strain that that would have put on his eye.
The 6-foot-4, 310-pound Wilson made the decision to return to the team in May. He now wears a visor on his helmet and wears goggles to protect the eye during helmet-less drills.
Wilson, a Bamberg, S.C., native, has played in 29 career games and started 23 for Georgia Southern, helping the Eagles post 259.8 rushing yards per game, the seventh-most prolific rushing attack in the country. They have given up just nine sacks this season too, good for 14th-best nationally.
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.
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