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Minnesota State’s Eli Thomas nominated for national Courage Award

FILE — Minnesota State Mavericks linebacker Eli Thomas (12) lines up at the line of scrimmage...
FILE — Minnesota State Mavericks linebacker Eli Thomas (12) lines up at the line of scrimmage during a game against the Bemidji State Beavers at Blakeslee Stadium in Mankato, Minn., on Sept. 18, 2021.(Minnesota State Athletics Department)
Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 3:16 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — Minnesota State senior Eli Thomas was named as a nominee for the 2021 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award.

The Courage Award was first presented by the Football Writers Association of America 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 during an on-field presentation.

2021 Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees:

  • McKenzie Milton, Florida State
  • Yohance Burnett, Tulsa
  • J.J. Weaver, Kentucky
  • Elijah Hicks, Cal
  • Eli Thomas, Minnesota State

Thomas, who is a linebacker from Elmira, New York, is tied for the team-lead in tackles this season with 26, which includes 2.5 tackles for a loss. Thomas recorded six tackles in his first two games with the Mavericks against Northern State and Minnesota Duluth, and most recently posted a season-best seven tackles against Upper Iowa.

Thomas has suffered three ACL injuries during his football career, which began at Lackawanna College before he transferred to UConn for the 2018 season. While at UConn, Thomas suffered a stroke.

He served as a team captain during the 2019 season but was not medically cleared to play before transferring to Minnesota State prior to the start of the 2020 season.

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