ROCHESTER, Minn.—The College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), in association with The Associated Press (AP) and the Fiesta Bowl Organization, have selected three college football student-athletes—Jake Luton of Oregon State University, Drew Wilson of Georgia Southern University and Octavion Wilson of Salisbury University—as the winners of the 2019 Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year Award. The three student-athletes, who are being recognized for overcoming injury or illness, will be honored during an on-field ceremony at the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the PlayStation® Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, on Dec. 28, 2019.
Drew Wilson was selected in a vote of AP College Football Poll Voters while Octavion Wilson was chosen by a vote of the CoSIDA small-college advisory board. Luton, along with six student-athletes named Honorable Mention, was selected by a vote of AP, CoSIDA, the Fiesta Bowl organization and the editors of Touchdown Illustrated, college football’s gameday publication.
A total of $30,000 will be donated in the names of the honorees to their school’s general scholarship fund, with $15,000 being awarded in the names of the three winners and $15,000 on behalf of the six named honorable mention: Shaun Crawford (DB, University of Notre Dame); Alex Martinez (QB, Saint Xavier University); Josh Paschal (DL, University of Kentucky); Hunter Spriggs (OL, Chapman University); Isaiah Weston (WR, University of Northern Iowa); and Antoine Winfield Jr. (DB, University of Minnesota).
“We commend Jake, Drew, Octavion and all of the inspiring student-athletes we recognized this season for sharing their personal stories of overcoming adversity to help fans better appreciate the roads these young men have traveled,” says Doug Vance, executive director of CoSIDA. “We hope these stories of achievement can inspire other people to meet the challenges in their own lives.”
“We understand how challenging it can be for student-athletes to return from injury or illness,” says Dr. Michael Stuart, co-director, Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine. “The 30 student-athletes we recognized this year are representative of the motivation, determination and perseverance that student-athletes all across America demonstrate on a daily basis.”
Drew Wilson, an offensive lineman for the Eagles, missed the entire 2018 season, suffering a detached retina in his right eye. What was initially thought to be the onset of pre-diabetes due to its rapid escalation was determined by specialists in Charleston to be a detached retina, which then required four surgeries to repair. Due to sensitivity to light following the surgeries, the 6-foot-4, 310-pound Bamburg, South Carolina, native was forced to take the fall semester off. Unable to study or work out, he started to think about his future without football. But following his final surgery, he was convinced that the risks of playing were minimal. As a result of surgeries, Drew is legally blind in the eye. The redshirt junior regained his starting position at right tackle this season and helped the high-powered Eagles offense average 29.17 points, and 333.7 yards per game..