Honoring Those Still in the Game.
The Armed Forces Merit Award is presented annually to an individual and/or a group who has created, developed and produced a program within the realm of the sport of football that provides care, concern and support for past or present members of the United States Armed Forces and/or their families.Created and coordinated by the staff at the Armed Forces Bowl, the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA was created in June 2012 “to honor an individual and/or a group within the realm of the sport of football.”
Officially announced each Veterans Day, the Armed Forces Merit Award recipient is selected by a panel of individuals from the Football Writers Association of America and the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl. Nominations are gathered from various groups and associations, including the American Football Coaches Association, The College Sports Information Directors of America, The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame and USA Football.
The nominee’s “contribution" is assessed by reviewing various items, including the a nomination form, supporting documents and letters of recommendation. In addition to their military-based program, the nominee for the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl Merit Award is also evaluated on evidence and examples of the following attributes.
• Authentic, Reliable, Motivating, Enthusiastic, Determined
• Fair, Organized, Respectful, Committed, Effective, Selfless
The Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) consists of the men and women across North America who cover college football for a living. Founded in 1941, the membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game day operations, major awards and an All-America team. Through its web site, the FWAA works to improve communication among those who work within the game. The FWAA also sponsors scholarships for aspiring writers and an annual writing contest. Behind the leadership of president Lenn Robbins of the New York Post and executive director Steve Richardson and a board of veteran journalists, the FWAA continues to grow and work to help college football prosper at all levels. There are now over 1,200 members. More information can be found at www.sportswriters.net.
Brandon "Sarge" McCoy - University of North Texas
McCoy walked onto the North Texas squad after serving five years (2004-2008) in the U. S. Army where he was discharged on August 19, 2008 after receiving numerous medals for his service time in Iraq.
McCoy's military journey began after he was kicked out of high school his senior year in 2003 for cheating, forcing him to attend summer school to earn his high school diploma. After being kicked out of his home for using drugs, McCoy lived in a drug house for a year before his father convinced him to speak with the Army about a possible career.
Upon enlistment, McCoy was assigned to the 116th infantry division at Fort Riley, Kansas. He spent 18 months in training before being assigned to the 134th armored unit, which was then deployed to Campo Anaconda in Iraq before being transferred to Taji, just 20miles north of Baghdad. McCoy's assignment for 13 months was one of the most dangerous at the time as he drove Humvees in supply runs and combat missions.
Later, the unit's mission was changed to provide convoy security for supply transport that faced countless IED attacks and roadside bombings. His security unit did not suffer a single fatality in their entire 13 months of deployment in Iraq.
In his nomination letter for McCoy, North Texas coach Dan McCarney praised Brandon as "One of the great examples of what the term 'student-athlete' means to all of us. He is a highly motivated young man of character, principle and integrity. His humility and sense of responsibility provide him with the qualities necessary in responding positively to his coaches, teachers, teammates, opponents and to the countless challenges that face him. Brandon has constantly brought honor, prestige and positive exposure to the University of North Texas and college football."
"I needed the right path to go," McCoy said. "I had no discipline. In the military, you either get it or you don't. I needed that structure. It was a huge outlook change, and it let me know what I really wanted to do.”
2012 Recipient: Nate Boyer - University of Texas
Nate Boyer, a deep snapper for the Texas Longhorns and the 2012 Big 12 Sportsman of the Year; was named the inaugural winner of the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).
Boyer, who played in UT's final 12 games as the snapper on PAT/FGs and earned first-team All-Big 12 Academic honors, earned his degree in the spring of 2012 with a 3.85 grade point average in physical cultural and sports. He also was the recipient of the 2012 Disney Spirit Award, given annually by Disney Sports to college football’s most inspirational figure.
The first recipient of the Merit Award hails from Oak Ridge, Tennessee and is a former member of the Green Beret Special Forces unit, serving time in Afghanistan. He spent fall evenings watching the Longhorns late at night while on his tour of duty and those games gave him the inspiration to move to Austin after his tour and attend Texas to play football. He is still a member of the Texas National Guard and spent last summer assigned to a NATO Special Forces unit in Afghanistan.