Chapter Update: Georgia Tech rallies past Florida State and two other teams post Week 1 victories


Georgia Tech overcame a tough first half that included two interceptions and a pair of blocked field goals to rally from 10 points down to win its season opener on the road against fellow Uplifting Athletes Chapter Florida State.

True freshman quarterback Jeff Sims accounted for 341 total yards in his first start and Jude Kelly drilled a 32-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter to win it for the Yellow Jackets.

Georgia Tech’s defense surrendered a touchdown on the opening drive of the game before slamming the door by limiting the Seminoles offense to only two field goals the rest of the way.

Clemson: A school record 18th career 100-yard rushing game by running back Travis Etienne along with a stellar outing by quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who threw for 351 yards and scored a pair of rushing touchdowns, powered the No. 1 ranked Tigers to a road victory at Wake Forest. Clemson Chapter leader Will Spiers averaged 42.8 yards on four punts including a 56-yard bomb. The Tigers’ defense registered six sacks and 11 tackles for a loss.

Notre Dame: Sophomore running back Kyren Williams, making his first career start, torched visiting Duke for 205 total yards and a pair of touchdowns as Notre Dame recorded its first ever conference victory. Williams became the first Irish player in the last 25 years to record 90-plus yards rushing and receiving in the same game. Notre Dame Chapter leader and starting linebacker Drew White recorded five tackles.

Syracuse: Led by three interceptions, two by linebacker Mikel Jones, the Orange defense kept Syracuse in the game for three quarters on the road against No. 18 North Carolina. The Orange trailed 10-6 entering the final 15 minutes before the Tar Heels rattled off touchdowns on three consecutive possessions to finish off the determined Orange. Former Syracuse Chapter leader Nolan Cooney drilled four of his nine punts more than 50 yards and averaged a stellar 47.8 yards per kick.

Each week during the college football season we will feature a player who is an officer for an Uplifting Athletes Chapter. This week we present Colgate quarterback and Chapter President Jake Froschauer

Why support rare now?


Nearly 30 million Americans are living with a rare disease and  COVID-19 continues to present a myriad of challenges that is not only impacting the patients but their families and caregivers as well.

At the top of the list is reduced access to vital medical care which, in turn, has exacerbated already existing challenges. Among those already existing challenges include an accurate diagnosis of a complex disease, limited treatment protocol options, financial struggles, absence of hope and mental fatigue for patients, families and caregivers. 

“I don’t think you need to have a rare disease to have had all of this impact you mentally,” said Dr. Justin Hopkin, the father of a son with a rare disease and a rare disease advocate. “Managing the mental aspect of all this has been difficult for everybody. Finances, jobs, social issues … all those things have weighed heavily on most of us, but we know it’s been especially hard on those living with a rare disease.”

The isolation some Americans are feeling as we navigate the obstacle course of this pandemic is how some rare disease patients feel everyday. 

Since March, medical research on diseases other than COVID-19 has taken a huge hit. There have been countless research studies abandoned, suspended or postponed. 

Much is still unanswered about the ultimate impact the pandemic will have on clinical trials, too. That’s because it is unclear how many of these studies will eventually restart and how long it will be before they begin again.

Clinical trials play a critical role physically and mentally for rare disease patients. They show researchers and doctors what does and doesn’t work, and are a critical vehicle for rare disease patients to receive or obtain life altering therapy.

A clinical trial being delayed, interrupted or canceled can be a tipping point for a rare disease patient . They don’t have the luxury in most cases of multiple clinical trials. And the delay, interruption or cancelation of that trial jeopardizes any hope they might have had and could even be life threatening.

All this is going to lead to a healthcare system already pushed to its extreme limits by this pandemic becoming backed up and slowed even more. And it will directly and adversely impact a Rare Disease Community that faces an uphill climb under optimal conditions.

“Like everyone else, what we are hearing from the patients in our community has been tough,” said Kathi Luis, a rare disease advocate. “There was a lot of hopelessness, without their rehab, medication, treatments, clinical trials delayed or canceled … they didn’t have any hope. They are really defeated.”

In April, the National Organization For Rare Diseases (NORD) reached out to patients to gauge the best way to guide support and help for the Rare Disease Community.

Nearly 800 people responded to the survey from NORD’s research team and the results were made public last month.

95 percent of the respondents said they have been impacted at a cost to both their immediate and long-term health and well-being. Nearly three-quarters have had a medical appointment canceled and, of those, 65 percent were offered an alternative appointment via phone or video. 69 percent of the respondents have concerns about medication and medical supply shortages.

“Treating rare and medically complex cases like mine takes multimodal approaches. Remove one piece of the puzzle and the care patients receive results in sub-optimal outcomes. COVID-19 further exposed a glaring problem in the healthcare system by asking us what defines essential medical treatments,” said Marni Cartelli, a rare disease patient. “What if a treatment on its face doesn’t keep someone alive but is supplemental to one that does? Also, we must ask ourselves, is keeping someone alive the only essential medical service? What about keeping someone’s ability to feed themselves? These are all questions I ask myself every single day but society only had to ask itself in this pandemic.”

The time for action to support the Rare Disease Community is now. As we all adjust to what is the most recent new normal, the mental fatigue associated with the unknown for rare disease patients continues.

Uplifting Athletes is uniquely positioned to inspire hope in the Rare Disease Community. The 7,000 Mile Challenge is a way for YOU to get active and rally support for the rare diseases this summer.

Inaugural 7,000 Mile Challenge to support the Rare Disease Community set for July 17-26


Uplifting Athletes is proud to announce the inaugural 7,000 Mile Challenge – a 10-day event starting July 17th that will bring focus and attention to the more than 7,000 known rare diseases.

People affected by a rare disease are fighting against a finite clock that didn’t stop because of COVID-19. We’re letting the Rare Disease Community know that we won’t stop fighting for them!

“We are rallying our extensive network behind one initiative this summer so that we can continue to support our friends and partners in the Rare Disease Community,” Uplifting Athletes Executive Director Rob Long said. “Our team has worked hard to find a way to afford everyone the opportunity to take action and help the Rare Disease Community.”

It does not matter whether you are a casual walker, an avid runner, swimmer or roll on wheels of any kind, you can help make a difference for the Rare Disease Community. To participate in the 7,000-Mile challenge join an existing team, create a new team for you and others, or participate as an individual.  

Track and add your mileage to the collective Uplifting Athletes total using any single day or combination of days throughout the 10-day challenge. You can collect pledges for every mile you contribute to the challenge to support the mission of Uplifting Athletes. 

Join Uplifting Athletes wherever you are July 17th to 26th and rally your support for the Rare Disease Community through activity, donation or both!

To pre-register and start helping Uplifting Athletes Tackle Rare Diseases, visit upliftingathletes.org. Now is a time for action so no one in the Rare Disease Community lives without hope.

Proceeds from the 7,000 Mile Challenge support the mission of Uplifting Athletes and its charitable programs: Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Leaders and Uplifting Experiences.

Any questions about the 7,000 Mile Challenge, please send an email to info@uplitingathletes.org.

Uplifting Athletes cancels all annual Lift For Life events for 2020


COVID-19 has led to many adjustments of the college athletic schedule. The football student-athletes and programs Uplifting Athletes work with face a condensed time frame to prepare for the upcoming season under heightened safety precautions.

In order to avoid any additional pressure, Uplifting Athletes made the decision to cancel all our annual Lift For Life events this summer.

On behalf of the Rare Disease Community Uplifting Athletes serves, thank you to everyone who has supported Lift For Life in the past. We look forward to a full Lift For Life schedule in 2021.

Lift For Life is the signature event for universities across the country that are part of the Uplifting Athletes nationwide network of chapters.

It is more important than ever for Uplifting Athletes to be there for our friends and family affected by Rare Diseases. Please stay tuned for a big announcement on Monday June 22 on how you can help rally support for the Rare Disease Community this summer.

21 NFL Prospects join 2020 Reps For Rare Diseases campaign during NFL Combine


For the sixth consecutive year, Uplifting Athletes is empowering NFL prospects with the opportunity to use the NFL Combine as a platform to give back by raising funds and awareness in support of the Rare Disease Community.

Reps For Rare Diseases has been used as a way for athletes to give back at a pivotal point in their quest to play at the highest level as they put their skills on display for NFL teams.

Since its inception in 2015, more than 100 players have participated in this campaign through either the NFL Combine or NFL Pro Day workouts.

This year Uplifting Athletes currently has 21 players who chose to participate in Reps For Rare Diseases 2020 at the NFL Combine including: Grayland Arnold, JaMycal Hasty, Denzel Mims, Clay Johnston, James Lynch and Chris Miller from Baylor, Davion Taylor from Colorado, Jalen Elliott, Alohi Gilman, Tony Jones Jr., Cole Kmet, Chris Finke and Julian Okwara from Notre Dame, Juwan Johnson from Oregon, Rob Windsor from Penn State, Kevin Davidson from Princeton, Sterling Hofrichter and Kendall Coleman from Syracuse, Reggie Robinson and Trevis Gipson from Tulsa and Shaun Bradley from Temple.

“During Combine and Pro Day training, so much time and energy is focused by these young men on achieving their dreams of playing in the NFL,” former NFL player and Uplifting Athletes’ Chapter Success Manager Levi Norwood said. “It is amazing to see so many NFL hopefuls realize, especially during this tiring and grueling process, how impactful their platform can be. We are honored they chose to stand alongside Uplifting Athletes and the Rare Disease Community.” 

Fans and supporters can pledge towards the performance of any one of our NFL Combine participants this year and help Uplifting Athletes tackle rare diseases.

Visit the Uplifting Athletes Reps For Rare Diseases 2020 team landing page, choose your favorite player and make your pledge today.

Horizon Therapeutics plc and Uplifting Athletes announced a new partnership for the 2020 Reps for Rare Diseases campaign. Horizon will match donations up to $35,000 through its #RAREis program, which is dedicated to providing individuals living with rare disease and families access to resources that connect, inform and educate as they navigate their daily lives.

“Thank you to all the athletes participating in Reps For Rare Diseases and good luck as you continue your football journey,” Uplifting Athletes Director of Sports Impact and NFL veteran Brett Brackett said. “This group of athletes displays the empathy and character that helps them stand out amongst their peers. Any NFL team would be lucky to have one of these men representing their organization.”

The proceeds from the 2020 Reps For Rare Diseases campaign support the mission of Uplifting Athletes and its charitable programs: Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders.

39 Uplifting Athletes Chapter Leaders put through paces in Atlanta during 11th annual Leadership Development Conference


The cornerstone of the Uplifting Leaders program is our network of Chapters on campuses across the country led by college football student-athletes.

This past weekend, 39 leaders from 20 schools gathered in Atlanta for a high impact and fast paced weekend of learning and development during our 11th annual Uplifting Athletes Leadership Development Conference.

The 2020 conference provided an opportunity for our Chapter leadership to develop relationships that stretch beyond the football field, to absorb enhanced mission and vision insight based on Uplifting Athletes’ four programs – Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders – and to plot a chapter strategy for 2020.

“The difference for me this year was it’s a new group of guys mostly, but you establish similar quality of relationships,” said Clemson Chapter leader and Tigers’ long snapper Jack Maddox, who was attending his second conference. “I have a year of experience now, so I know more about what’s going on. I’m not overwhelmed as much and I know what we can and can’t do at our chapter. It’s such a valuable weekend.”

Following a meet-and-greet dinner Friday night, the conference kicked off Saturday with a full day of programming. Four breakout sessions led by Uplifting Athletes staff were followed by an “entering the real world” question-and-answer session with former college athletes.

The highlight of Saturday was the Uplifting Experience at the College Football Hall of Fame where 24 rare disease patients, caregivers and families were connected with the Chapter leaders to spend a couple hours experiencing the Hall of Fame together.

“I loved that the athletes had an opportunity to meet individuals with rare diseases outside of a hospital setting,” said Carol Unger, whose 32-year-old son Matthew is diagnosed with the ultra rare disease WAGR Syndrome. “I feel it is important to note that our children grow up, although some may still be at the maturity level of a 7 or 8 year old, and cherish those opportunities to meet with folks from the outside world.”

The first day of the conference closed out with a work session on three of Uplifting Athletes’ main events – Lift For Life, Reps For Rare Diseases and Touchdown Pledge Drive.

“Since Penn State is such an established chapter, my journey here is to learn what else can we do next to help support the Rare Disease Community,” said Penn State Chapter leader and long snapper Chris Stoll, who is in line to be the next PSU Chapter President taking over for quarterback Sean Clifford.

“I’m very excited to be more involved at another level. Sean did a great job and put a lot into it. But he’s our starting quarterback now and that’s a big job. I’m pumped to be here again and to meet so many guys who have passion for the rare disease cause and for using their platform to make a difference. And I’m very excited to get more involved at the next level.”

Sunday started with Dr. David Fajgenbaum, a former Uplifting Athletes Young Investigator Draft grant recipient, founder of the Castleman Disease Collaborative Network and rare disease research pioneer, sharing his story via a live video conference.

The conference wrapped up with some additional highlights of Uplifting Athletes’ programming that is available to support the rare disease cause and a work session to kick off 2020 at the chapter level.

A special thank you to all our sponsors and supporters who made this conference possible, Deloitte, Sanofi Genzyme, Jean Campbell and JFC Consulting and the College Football Hall of Fame. With your help, these young men are making a difference in the Rare Disease Community.

Kent State posts first bowl game victory in program history and eight teams highlighted in Chapter Bowl Season Update


Kent State needed four tries to get the first bowl victory in school history. The Golden Flashes, making their first bowl appearance since 2012, upended Utah State in the Frisco Bowl to not only record the first bowl win for the program, but also record its first winning record in seven seasons.

Kent State won its final four games of the season to finish 7-6 overall. Sophomore kicker Matt Trickett drilled five field goals in the 10-point victory to give him 29 field goals this season. It was the third game Trickett posted four or more field goals in a game and his five made kicks is the most by a MAC player in a bowl game since 2013. Kent State Chapter President Antwan Dixon, a member of the 2019 Rare Disease Champion Team, had a career-best 99 receiving yards and recorded his first touchdown of the season.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions had a record breaking outing to outgun Memphis in the Cotton Bowl and post their third 11-win season in the last four years. Led by redshirt sophomore running back Journey Brown, Penn State rolled up 396 rushing yards – the most ever in a bowl game for the Nittany Lions. Brown had a career-high 202 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His 202 yards is the most by a Penn State running back in its storied bowl history – surpassing the 194 yards posted by Saquon Barkley in the 2017 Rose Bowl. Brown’s record performance earned him the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Bowl Season. Penn State’s seven total touchdowns and five rushing touchdowns both tied Cotton Bowl records. Sophomore All-American linebacker Micah Parsons tied a career-high with 14 tackles. He also had 3.0 tackles for a loss, 2.0 sacks and a pair of forced fumbles to earn Defensive MVP honors for the game.

Notre Dame: A convincing 24 point win over Iowa State in the Camping World Bowl gave the Fighting Irish back-to-back 11-win seasons for the first time since 1988-1989. Sparked by a balanced offense and another stingy effort from a Notre Dame defense that recovered a pair of fumbles in the game to give them an FBS-best 19 on the season, the Irish grabbed control early and never let the Cyclones have a say in determining the outcome. Notre Dame Chapter Leader Drew White finished with five tackles in the game. The linebacker ended the season tied for first in tackles with 80.

Clemson: For the third time in four years the Tigers will play for the College Football Playoff National Championship. The defending champions won their record 29th straight game, rallying from a 16-point deficit in the first half to edge Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. Clemson will play No. 1 seed LSU for the title on Monday, January 13 in New Orleans. Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence accounted for 366 total yards and three touchdowns, including a career-high 107 rushing yards. The Clemson defense sealed the victory with a pair of fourth-quarter interceptions – including a Nolan Turner pick in the end zone with less than a minute remaining. Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields had thrown only one interception all season before the National Semifinal.

Western Michigan: The Broncos saw Western Kentucky kick a pair of field goals in the final two minutes – including a game winner from 52 yards out with no time left on the clock – to claim the First Responder Bowl. Western Michigan senior cornerback Kareem Ali, a transfer from Temple, picked off a pass in the second quarter and returned it 88 yards for a touchdown. Ali’s pick-six, the first interception of his career, was the first interception ever returned for a touchdown by a Bronco in a bowl game. The 88 yards he covered is the most for an interception return by any Mid-American Conference (MAC) player ever in a bowl game – surpassing the previous mark by 32 yards. The three-point loss dropped WMU to 7-6 overall for the season.

Illinois: Making its first appearance in a bowl game since 2014, the Fighting Illini fell to California in the Redbox Bowl – the first bowl game appearance for Illinois since 2014. Turnovers fueled the Illini as they had a program-best 28 takeaways during the regular season. Despite outgaining Cal 450-395, the Illinois defense did not produce a single turnover for the first time all season. Junior punter Blake Hayes had five punts for 208 total yards with a long of 55 yards and dropped four of those five boots inside the 20-yard line. Hayes owns three of the top 11 single-season punting averages in Illinois history and no fewer than six single-season program punting records. Illini senior linebacker Dele Harding had six tackles and 1.5 tackles for a loss in his final game. Harding finish his senior year with 153 tackles to finish sixth on the Illinois all-time list for a single season and the most by an Illini player in the last 25 years.

Florida State: The Seminoles had nearly 200 more yards of total offense than Arizona State in the Sun Bowl, but Florida State was undone by six turnovers that the Sun Devils converted into 14 points on their way to a seven-point victory. Seminoles redshirt sophomore wide receiver Tamorrion Terry had a career-best nine catches and 165 receiving yards including a 91-yard catch-and-run touchdown.That 91-yard touchdown catch was the longest passing play in Sun Bowl history (86 years). Terry’s six touchdown catches this season of 60 or more yards ties him with Oklahoma All-American Dede Westbrook in 2016 for the most in a season nationally since at least 2010.

Baylor: For the third time in seven years, the Bears went to a bowl game with 11 wins and chance to register 12 victories for the first time in program history. Undone in the first half of the Sugar Bowl by a dominant Georgia squad, Baylor fell behind 19-0 and despite a strong second half never fully recovered and ultimately fell to the Bulldogs by 12 points. Still, only two years removed from a 1-11 season, playing in a New Year’s Six Bowl with a chance to make program history was not on the Bears’ radar when the season kicked off.

Beyond The Trophy: Get to know Clemson Chapter Vice President and long snapper Jack Maddox


Each week during the college football season we will feature a player who is an officer for an Uplifting Athletes Chapter for our Beyond the Trophy series.

Name: Jack Maddox

College: Clemson University

Height, weight, class, position: 6-3, 225-pounds, redshirt sophomore, long snapper

High School: Acton-Boxborough Regional in Acton, Mass.

About Jack: A two-time Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Honor Roll selection, Jack has appeared in a dozen games on special teams the last two seasons for the Tigers after a redshirt year in 2017. He made his collegiate debut against NC State in 2018 and this season has appeared in 10 games for Clemson on special teams. This season against NC State he recorded his first fumble recovery on a muffed punt. Jack became a chapter leader at Clemson following the 2018 season. He took over the role of Vice President for the Clemson Chapter and assisted in landing NFL prospects to be part of Reps For Rare Diseases 2019 and helped oversee the Tigers’ Lift For Life in the summer. Jack attended the Leadership Development Conference in January of 2019 and is making sure the defending National Champions use their platform as college football student athletes to serve and inspire hope in the Rare Disease Community.

What is your most memorable experience as a college football player?

MADDOX: Winning the National Championship in 2018.

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes?

MADDOX: The opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s life.

What have you learned from your experience with Uplifting Athletes?

MADDOX: How influential the platform of college football is to serve and bring attention to the Rare Disease Community.

What advice would you share with someone in high school looking to play college football?

MADDOX: Dream big and work hard. It is only unthinkable if you don’t think it.

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

MADDOX: Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys. One of the best tight ends of all time and does so much off the field.

If you could have lunch with any one person (dead or alive), who would you choose and why?

MADDOX: Arnold Palmer. I would love to talk golf and get to know one of the most beloved men in sports.

JACK ON THE HOT SEAT

What is your perfect pizza?

MADDOX: Pepperoni and mushroom

All time favorite movie?

MADDOX: Christmas Vacation

What is your go-to fast food restaurant?

MADDOX: McDonald’s

Favorite sports team (any sport)?

MADDOX: Dallas Cowboys

What is the most used app on your phone?

MADDOX: Venmo

Chapter Update: Clemson makes college football history with fifth ACC crown and eight teams earn bowl invitations


Defending National Champion Clemson became the first team in college football history to win five consecutive conference championships when it overpowered Virginia in the ACC Championship game.

The Tigers extended their nation-best winning streak to 28 games and have now won 19 ACC championships and 25 overall championships in Clemson program history.

Led by quarterback Trevor Lawrence and wide receiver Tee Higgins, Clemson scored the first five times it had the ball on its way to an ACC Championship game record 62 points and 619 total yards.

Higgins finished with three touchdown receptions and 182 receiving yards, each setting an ACC Championship Game record. With those three TD catches the junior tied Clemson’s all-time receiving touchdowns record with 27 and earned the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week.

Lawrence set an ACC Championship game record with four touchdown passes. He finished with 302 passing yards and for the eighth consecutive game threw at least three TD passes.

Tigers running back Travis Etienne chipped in with 114 yards and a touchdown to eclipse 1,500 yards on the ground this season. It’s the second year in a row he went over the 1,500-yard mark, becoming the first player in program history to accomplish the feat.

For the fifth consecutive year the undefeated Tigers will participate in the College Football Playoff. Clemson was awarded the No. 3 seed and will face second-seeded Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl on December 28 in one CFP semifinal.

The Tigers’ fifth CFP playoff appearance ties Alabama for the most appearances in the brief history of the four-team playoff.

Learn more about Clemson Chapter President and punter Will Spiers in our Beyond The Trophy series

Baylor: Forced to use its second and third string quarterbacks, the Bears still took the Big 12 Championship game into overtime before falling to Oklahoma by a touchdown. Twice Baylor rallied from double-digit deficits to force extra time in its first appearance in the conference title game. After losing starting quarterback Charlie Brewer in the first half, the combination of redshirt freshman Gerry Bohanon and true freshman Jacob Zeno combined to throw for more than 200 yards and three touchdowns without an interception to keep Baylor in the hunt. The Bears had a crack to take the lead late in the fourth quarter, moving inside the OU 20 before stalling and settled instead for John Mayers 27-yard field goal as the final points in regulation. Junior defensive lineman James Lynch had 2.0 sacks in the championship game, setting the Baylor single-season mark for sacks in a season with 12.5.

The Bears’ only losses this season came at the hands of College Football Playoff-bound Oklahoma. Baylor finished No. 7 overall in the rankings and earned an invitation to a New Year’s Six Bowl invite to the 86th playing of the Sugar Bowl. The Bears, who were 1-11 two years ago, will play No. 5 Georgia in New Orleans. This is the reward for a senior class that played under three different head coaches and lost 16 of 18 games during one stretch.

Penn State: For the first time since 1975 the Nittany Lions will play in the Cotton Bowl to commemorate the 50th bowl game appearance in program history. Penn State finished No. 10 in the final rankings and earned an invitation to play American Athletic Conference (AAC) champion and 17th ranked Memphis (12-1) in Dallas on December 28. This will be the Nittany Lions’ third New Year’s Six bowl appearance in the last four years under head coach James Franklin and the sixth straight season Penn State has been bowl eligible.

Illinois: Ending a five-year drought of making an appearance in a bowl game, the Fighting Illini earned the 19th bowl invitation in program history with a trip to the Bay Area. Illinois will play Cal from the Pac-12 in the Redbox Bowl on December 30. Although Illinois and Cal have played 10 previous times, this will be the first meeting in a bowl game.

Notre Dame: Coming off its third consecutive 10-win season, the Fighting Irish will play their 148th different opponent in program history when they face Iowa State from the Big 12 Conference in the Camping World Bowl in Orlando on December 28. This is the ninth time in 10 years head coach Brian Kelly has taken Notre Dame to a bowl game and will mark appearance No. 36 in the postseason for the Fighting Irish.

Kent State: After winning their final three games just to reach six wins, the Golden Flashes are headed to a bowl game for only the fourth time in program history and the first since 2013. Kent State will play Utah State from the Mountain West Conference in the Frisco Bowl on December 20 in Frisco, Texas. With wins over Buffalo, Ball State and Kent State, the Golden Flashes are the only FBS team to win their final three games of the season to become bowl eligible.

Western Michigan: For the third time in the last four years the Broncos are bowl bound. Western Michigan earned an invitation to the First Responder Bowl in Dallas on December 30 and will face 8-4 Western Kentucky from Conference USA. This is the 10th overall bowl appearance for Western Michigan since it earned its first bowl invitation in 1961.

Florida State: The Seminoles will appear in the postseason for an NCAA-best 38th time in the last 40 seasons after receiving an invitation to the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas on December 31. Florida State will play Arizona State from the Pac-12 for the fifth time in program history. The last time FSU played in the Sun Bowl was 1966 and the last time the Seminoles and Sun Devils squared off was 1984.

Beyond The Trophy 2019: Get to know Clemson Chapter President and punter Will Spiers


Each week during the college football season we will feature a player who is an officer for an Uplifting Athletes Chapter for our Beyond the Trophy series.

Name: Will Spiers

College: Clemson University

Height, weight, class, position: 6-5, 225-pound, redshirt junior, punter

High School: Calhoun Academy in Cameron, S.C.

About Will: The former walk-on who played quarterback and punter in high school, Will is now in his third year as the Tigers’ No. 1 punter. An All-ACC Academic selection during his career who has averaged nearly 41 yards per kick, Will is having his best season ever in 2019. He’s averaging 42.3 yards per kick and his net average is above 40 yards per kick as well. He’s dropped nine punts inside the 20, has eight boots of more than 50 yards and has only two touchbacks. Will has served the Rare Disease Community for two years in a leadership position for the Clemson Chapter. He took over as the Chapter President in 2019 after attending the Uplifting Athletes Leadership Development Conference in 2018 and 2019.

What is your most memorable experience as a college football player?

SPIERS: Playing in the 2018 College Football National Championship game.

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes?

SPIERS: The opportunity to be in a leadership role where the ultimate objective was to help others.

What have you learned from your experience with Uplifting Athletes?

SPIERS: A lot about the Rare Disease Community and how our platform as college football players can have a big impact on them.

What advice would you share with someone in high school looking to play college football?

SPIERS: Never give up and learn how to work hard in every aspect of life.

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

SPIERS: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. He’s the GOAT.

If you could have lunch with any one person (dead or alive), who would you choose and why?

SPIERS: LeBron James to learn about him as a person and a player.

WILL ON THE HOT SEAT

What is your perfect pizza?

SPIERS: Meat Lovers

All time favorite movie?

SPIERS: The Patriot

What is your go-to fast food restaurant?

SPIERS: Chick-fil-A

Favorite sports team (any sport)?

SPIERS: Houston Astros

What is the most used app on your phone?

SPIERS: Instagram