Chapter Update: Maryland piles up records in Week 2 upset of Syracuse


Maryland is off to a 2-0 start, and the Terrapins offense is setting plenty of school records in the process.

The opening victory over Howard, where the Terps scored 79 points, was no surprise at all. But following that up with 63 against previously ranked Syracuse turned plenty of heads in Week 2 of the college football season.

Maryland’s 63 points are the most ever against a ranked opponent and for the first time in school history the Terps have scored 55 or more points in back-to-back games.

Quarterback Josh Jackson threw for nearly 300 yards and three touchdowns and four running backs teamed up for 343 rushing yards and six touchdowns on only 37 carries. 

Fast starts have been key for Maryland, as the Terps have totaled 98 points in the first half this season, the most in a two-game stretch in program history.

Learn more about Illinois Chapter President Bobby Walker in our Beyond The Trophy series.

Penn State: Trailing Buffalo at halftime, the Nittany Lions used a pick-6 by cornerback John Reid to ignite a fire under the offense that saw Penn State outscore the visitors 38-3 in the second half. QB Sean Clifford, the PSU Chapter President, had 345 total yards and threw four touchdown passes. TE Pat Freiermuth had a career-high in catches (8), yards (99) and tied his career-best for touchdowns with a pair.

Davidson: The Wildcats used a pair of interception returns for touchdowns and a balanced offensive push to overwhelm Virginia Lynchburg at home. For the second consecutive week Davidson’s defense did not allow a point in the first half. Rayshawn McCall and Jaden Pask returned interceptions for touchdowns covering 46 and 37 yards, respectively.

NC State: After a sluggish first quarter where the Wolfpack scored only three points, the Wolfpack offense heated up and scored on six consecutive possessions to blank Western Carolina. Zonovan Knight, a true freshman running back making only his second career start, became the 57th player in NC State Football history to rush for 100 yards. He is the second fastest player to record a 100-yard game since Tremayne Stephens did it in his first career start in 1994.  Knight’s feats earned him the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week.

Kent State: For only the second time in program history, the Flashes won an overtime game by rallying with a late 4th quarter 38-yard field goal from Matthew Trickett before he won the game by converting a 43 yarder in extra time. Kent State had lost nine consecutive overtime games before claiming this year’s home opener.

Illinois: Trailing by 13 points early in the second quarter, the Illini erupted for 24 unanswered points to grab a lead it never relinquished. Quarterback Brandon Peters threw four touchdown passes – three of those in the second quarter – and became only the second Illinois QB since 2000 to throw for seven touchdowns in the first two games of the season. Peters, who threw for 164 yards in the second quarter, spread the ball around, too, with nine receivers catching at least one of his 24 completions.

Clemson: The Tigers tied the school record for consecutive victories at 17 by taking out No. 12 Texas A&M at home. The defending National Champions and consensus No. 1 team in the country improved to 9-1 against SEC teams since 2016. Clemson led 17-3 at halftime behind a defense that limited the Aggies to fewer than 100 yards over the first two quarters, and were never threatened in the second half.

Baylor: Five different Bears rushed for a touchdown and, for the second consecutive week, Baylor scored 35 first-half points to roll over UTSA at home. This was the third consecutive game, dating back to the bowl game in 2018, Baylor has posted 500 or more yards of offense.

Florida State: Star running back Cam Akers needed to be at his very best for the Seminoles to hold off the upset bid of the ULM Warhawks. Akers had 41 touches for 248 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns, including the eventual winning TD in overtime. Akers’ 36 rushing attempts broke a school record that had been shared by Mike Sellers (1950) and Travis Minor (1998) for the last 21 years. He finished with 193 yards on the ground.

Western Kentucky: A late goal-line stand by the Hilltoppers defense preserved a six-point Conference USA road victory over Florida International in Miami. FIU had second-and-goal at the WKU 2-yard line late in the fourth quarter before the Hilltoppers defense forced a fumble to move the ball back to the 16-yard line. Two more incompletions and a first down by the offense offense later, WKU had its first win of the season.

Chapter Update: 13 teams committed to Tackling Rare Diseases open 2019 season with victories


Terrell Johnson hauled in a 35-yard touchdown pass with 77 seconds remaining and Trevor Thompson nailed the extra point to help Saint Francis win its season opener in come-from-behind fashion on the road at Lehigh by a point.

The Red Flash victory wasn’t without plenty of late drama, though. Lehigh moved the ball down the field from its own 3-yard-line in the dying seconds and had a 40-yard field goal attempt to win it. Mountain Hawks kicker Austin Henning nailed his first attempt, but SFU had called timeout to ice him before the kick. His second attempt sailed wide right.

Saint Francis Chapter President Nick Rinella came up with the key play of the second half to keep the Red Flash on the comeback trail. After trailing 13-0 at halftime, Saint Francis cut the deficit to 13-7 late in the third quarter. Lehigh answered with a solid drive and was inside the SFU 10 when Rinella jumped a slant route on second down and returned the interception 34 yards.

Learn more about Lehigh Chapter President Jorge Portorreal in our Beyond The Trophy series.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions rolled up the third most total yards in school history – 673 – while limiting Idaho to five first downs and less than 150 total yards in the blowout victory. The Nittany Lions saw five running backs score seven rushing touchdowns, PSU Chapter President Sean Clifford threw for 280 yards and a couple scores in his first career start and the defense totaled seven sacks and 11 tackles for a loss.

Stony Brook: Powered by a balanced offense and a stingy run defense the Seawolves won at home for the 10th time in a row. Stony Brook’s defense set the tone when DB Synceir Malone returned an interception 22 yards for a touchdown to open scoring in the first quarter.

Syracuse: The nationally ranked Orange rode a defense that posted eight sacks, limited Liberty to minus-4 yards rushing and pitched a shutout to overcome a new-look offense that sputtered at times. It was Syracuse’s first away-game shutout since the Orange won at Tulane (24-0) on Sept. 28, 1991.

Davidson: Running back William Wicks capped an 80-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter to propel the Wildcats past Georgetown. Davidson led 20-0 at halftime before the Hoyas rallied with 20 third-quarter points off a trio of Wildcat turnovers. 

Illinois: New Fighting Illini quarterback Brandon Peters threw for a trio of touchdowns and rushed for another and the Illinois defense limited Akron to fewer than 200 yards in a comfortable and complete victory. This was the 22nd victory for the Illini in a home opener – the fourth longest active streak in the country.

Western Michigan: Senior quarterback John Wassink threw for 368 yards and tied a career-best with five touchdown passes to power the Broncos to an impressive 35-point home victory over Monmouth. It was the third 300-plus yard passing game of Wassink’s career and the second year in a row he reached that number in the season opener after throwing for 379 a year ago against Syracuse.

Clemson: The consensus No. 1 team in the country opened the defense of its National Championship by running past Georgia Tech. Powered by a career day from running back Travis Etienne, the Tigers rushed for 411 yards – the most by Clemson in a season opener since 1957 and the most allowed by the Yellow Jackets since 1975. Etienne rushed for 205 yards and three touchdowns. His 90-yard gallop in the first quarter tied for the longest run in school history and is the longest run by a Tiger at Memorial Stadium to earn the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week honor.

Notre Dame: The final score might say this was a comfortable road opener for the Fighting Irish, but it wasn’t. Notre Dame trailed 14-7 in the first quarter and relied on an 11-yard touchdown run by QB Ian Book just before the half to pave the path to victory. Turnovers were key, as the Irish defense forced five fumbles and recovered three of them.

NC State: New Wolfpack quarterback Matthew McKay became only the third NC State quarterback since 1970 to throw for more than 300 yards in his first career start in their victory over East Carolina. He joins Phillip Rivers (2000) and Harrison Beck (2007) in this exclusive club. McKay totaled 308 yards through the air with a touchdown and also added a pair of rushing scores for an NC State team that is rebuilding. Six players made their first college start and 17 players made their NC State debut including 10 freshmen.

Maryland: New starting quarterback Josh Jackson, a transfer from Virginia Tech, threw four touchdown passes in his Maryland debut to help the Terrapins shatter the school record for points in a half with 56 in the blowout of Howard. 

Baylor: RB Trestan Ebner and WR R.J. Sneed combined to score five touchdowns for the Bears in a rout of Stephen F. Austin at home.

Richmond: The Spiders used 31 first-half points to subdue Jacksonville and record their 14th straight victory in a home opener – a streak that started in 2005 and is inside the Top 10 for FCS schools nationally.

Lift For Life 2019 was a tremendous success and saw a record 21 college football chapters hold events


Over the course of five months, earlier this year, a record 21 members of the Uplifting Athletes’ chapter network held our signature event, Lift For Life, to raise awareness and funds in support of the Rare Disease Community.

Lift For Life 2019 was conducted in two phases. It started in Philadelphia with Penn on February 23 and finished in Waco, Texas with Baylor on July 24.

In between, the impact these student-athletes had on the Rare Disease Community, using their platform and voice as college football players to inspire others and support the cause, was staggering.

“While each program uses their platform in their own unique way, the common thread that unifies our chapter network is the forward thinking that enables these special student-athletes to empower their teammates to share their spotlight in order to shed light on a community that truly needs, values and appreciates the support,” said Uplifting Athletes Director of Sports Impact Brett Brackett. “Uplifting Athletes is humbled to work with such incredible student-athletes.”

During this year’s Lift For Life season, the audience created by these 21 chapters was over 52 million. More than 34 million of that came through social media followers and another 18.5 million was generated by online news focused on the 2019 events.

Every Lift For Life is unique at each university campus, but the driving force behind the event is the same for all our chapters nationwide. Lift For Life is an opportunity for teams to take a regular strength and conditioning workout and use it to raise money and awareness for the Rare Disease Community.

This year, Lift For Life raised nearly $175,000. The proceeds from Lift For Life support the mission of Uplifting Athletes and its charitable programs: Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders.

Once Penn kicked off Lift For Life 2019, Phase 1 charged into high gear with Stony Brook, Saint Francis, Davidson, Lehigh, Marist and Princeton holding events in March, April and May.

Phase 2 of Lift For Life was ignited by Northwestern and Western Michigan lighting the fuse with events in May and June, respectively.

That set the table for the Rare Road Trip 2019 – the final Lift For Life blitz that saw 12 chapters hold events over a 12-day period in July.

Kent State started the Rare Road Trip 2019 ball rolling and was followed by Penn State, Florida State, Clemson, NC State, Syracuse, Maryland, Notre Dame, Colgate, Illinois, Eastern Illinois and was capped off by Baylor.

The record 21 FBS and FCS chapters that gave their all to support the Rare Disease Community represented 10 NCAA Football Conferences including: Ivy League, Colonial Athletic Association, Northeast Conference, Pioneer Football League, Big Ten Conference, Mid-American Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference, Patriot League, Big 12 and Ohio Valley Conference.

Congratulations to Lehigh, Marist, Western Michigan, Kent State and Eastern Illinois for each holding its inaugural Lift For Life this year. It’s an honor to have those programs join our team.

“Lift For Life 2019 reached new heights with a record number of chapters hosting events and five programs holding their first Lift For Life as part of our team,” Brackett said. “We are grateful to everyone involved for making Lift For Life a success and joining us to inspire the Rare Disease Community with hope.”

Rare Road Trip 2019 closes the curtain on Lift For Life season


Phase 2 of Uplifting Athletes’ network of chapters Lift For Life season was culminated with Rare Road Trip 2019.

In the spring, seven of our chapters held these signature events to support our mission to inspire the Rare Disease Community with hope through the power of sport.

Those seven schools set the table for the other 14 chapters to finish strong.

Before the road trip officially launched, Northwestern and Western Michigan kicked off the second phase of Lift For Life season. 

It was the inaugural Lift For Life for the Broncos from Western Michigan and Northwestern held its first outdoor event at the Wildcats’ new facility bordering Lake Michigan.

Then Rare Road Trip 2019 kicked into high gear with 12 chapters holding events in 12 days between July 12-24.

Kent State, Penn State, Florida State, Clemson, NC State, Syracuse, Maryland, Colgate, Notre Dame, Illinois, Eastern Illinois and Baylor were the dozen schools that comprised  Rare Road Trip 2019.

For the Kent State and Eastern Illinois Chapters, being part of the Rare Road Trip was their first experience as members of the Uplifting Athletes team.

“Having the opportunity to give back to others as a member of the Rare Disease Community myself is very important to me,” Kent State Chapter President and Golden Flashes wide receiver Antwan Dixon said. “Also, having my teammates and coaches being all-in so that we can raise money for raise disease patients is such a blessing. We are all proud to be part of a team that is working so hard to Tackle Rare Diseases.”

Every Lift For Life is unique at each university campus, but the driving force behind the event is the same for all our chapters nationwide. Lift For Life is an opportunity for teams to take a regular strength and conditioning workout and use it to raise money and awareness for the Rare Disease Community.

The Notre Dame Chapter had a remarkable summer. In June the Fighting Irish held their annual Uplifting Experience Bowling event and welcomed a record number of patients, siblings and caregivers for a few hours of recreation and fun. Then Notre Dame football student-athletes used their platform to raise a chapter record $20,000-plus at Lift For Life while also using social media to raise awareness for the Rare Disease cause.

“Uplifting Athletes is an incredible opportunity for us to use our platform as college athletes to raise awareness for a great cause,” said Notre Dame Chapter Vice President and tight end Brock Wright. “It is very special for our program to be able to work with an organization that can make an impact in the fight against rare diseases. Lift for Life gave us a chance to contribute to this fight.”

Sharing a little about each stop on the Rare Road Trip: Penn State held it’s 17th annual Lift For Life, Maryland and Florida State held signature events again after a one-year absence on the schedule, and Colgate reached double-digits in years holding Lift For Life events as they were the second college football program to join our team.

Each year, Lift For Life at Syracuse grows stronger roots in the community, defending National Champion Clemson crushed its fundraising goal, NC State put on a great show for its fans with a unique 1-on-1 workout session, the Illinois Chapter flourished after the Fighting Illini made a few changes to their workout style under new strength coach Lou Hernandez and the Texas summer isn’t the only heat coming from Waco, Texas as the Baylor program turned in a fiery Lift For Life for the second straight year.

“At the University of Illinois, Uplifting Athletes and its Lift for Life are a tradition. Uplifting Athletes is a tremendous way for our teammates to use their platform as college athletes,” Illinois Chapter President and tight end Bobby Walker said. “We all care about what we do on the field, but the work outside of it is very important as well, which is why this event is so important to us.”

Today, the challenges faced by the Rare Disease Community are bigger than any one individual, team or organization can tackle alone. Each chapter is part of the nationwide network of teams that are uniquely positioned to educate and engage their local community to shine a spotlight on the rare disease cause.

“It has been a privilege to be a small part of such a big impact in many families lives,” Penn State Chapter President and quarterback Sean Clifford said. “Penn State is driven to help the Rare Disease Community because we know how important this cause is, and we see the significance in the bigger picture.”

Maryland Chapter announces annual Lift For Life to support the Rare Disease Community set for July 19th


The Maryland Chapter of Uplifting Athletes will hold its annual Lift For Life to support the Rare Disease Community on Friday, July 19th.

Lift For Life is the signature fundraising event for the Maryland Chapter of Uplifting Athletes. Maryland is a part of Uplifting Athletes’ nationwide network of chapters led by college football student-athletes.

Each chapter embraces the mission of Uplifting Athletes by using college football as a platform to inspire the Rare Disease Community with hope through the power of sport.

The 2019 Maryland Chapter Lift For Life will be a competition to see how much weight each of the eight fundraising teams can lift during their max bench press and squat testing. The Lift For Life event this year is private.

Fans and supporters can pledge to one of the eight teams for every 1,000 pounds knocked out during their max bench press and squat competition. So choose your favorite Terps player and support their team by visiting the Maryland Chapter Lift For Life fundraising site and pledging now! You can also make a flat donation to the Maryland Lift For Life.

The proceeds from the Maryland Lift For Life support the mission of Uplifting Athletes and its charitable programs: Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders.

Today, the challenges faced by the Rare Disease Community are bigger than any one individual, team or organization can tackle alone. The Maryland Chapter, along with a nationwide network of teams, is uniquely positioned to educate and engage the local community to shine a spotlight on rare diseases.

The Maryland Chapter started tackling rare diseases in 2009 when it joined Uplifting Athletes. The student-athlete led Maryland Chapter serves the Rare Disease Community in honor of former Terrapins quarterback Boomer Esiason.

Esiason’s son, Gunnar, lives with the rare disease cystic fibrosis and his battle served as the inspiration for Maryland football to join Uplifting Athletes.

Please support the Maryland Chapter and help the Terps reach their impressive $5,000 team Lift For Life goal.

32 players from 2019 Uplifting Athletes Reps For Rare Diseases team join the NFL ranks


Earlier this year, Uplifting Athletes partnered with 56 NFL prospects to give them their first opportunity to share their new platform as professional athletes to inspire others with hope and to support the Rare Disease Community.

When the stakes were the highest in their football lives, these NFL prospects made a choice to pledge their performance at either the NFL Combine or their individual NFL Pro Day workouts to raise awareness and funds in support of Uplifting Athletes’ mission.

Of the 56 NFL prospects who participated in the Uplifting Athletes 2019 Reps For Rare Diseases campaign, we are excited to share that 32 were either drafted or signed free agent contracts and are taking that next step, continuing their football career in the NFL.

Quite a feat considering less than 1 percent of high school football players actually go on to sign a professional NFL contract.  For those who climb to the top of the football ladder and take that next  step from NFL prospect to being drafted or signed by an NFL team, they are in rare air.

“Congratulations to each and every one of these men for earning this rare opportunity,” said Uplifting Athletes Director of Sports Impact Brett Brackett, who played in the NFL. “To those that give, much is received. It is fitting that the men who took the time to help those affected by rare diseases at such a pivotal time in their athletic careers get the opportunity to join a rare fraternity of men to sign an NFL contract after college.

“We wish each and every one of you good health, great success and to always help those in need with the platform bestowed upon you.”

Of the 56 players that took part in the 2019 Reps For Rare Diseases campaign this past March, 12 of them were drafted and 20 have signed undrafted free agent contracts.

That group includes a pair of first-round picks in defensive lineman Christian Wilkins from Clemson who was drafted No. 13 overall by the Miami Dolphins and former NC State center Garrett Bradbury who was the No. 18 overall selection by the Minnesota Vikings.

The other 10 draft picks from our 2019 Reps For Rare Diseases team include: Miles Boykin from Notre Dame, taken in the third round by the Baltimore Ravens, and Fighting Irish teammates Julian Love and Drue Tranquill who were taken in the fourth round by the New York Giants and Los Angeles Chargers, respectively.

Former Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson was taken off the board by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fifth round. A trio of players, Ty Johnson from Maryland to the Detroit Lions, former Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley to the Baltimore Ravens and one-time NC State wide receiver Kelvin Harmon to the Washington Redskins, were selected in the sixth round.

Rounding out the 12 draft picks, University of Illinois guard and former Illini Chapter President Nick Allegretti was taken by Kansas City, Nick Scott from Penn State went to the Los Angeles Rams and Syracuse defensive lineman Chris Slayton was picked by the New York Giants. All three were seventh-round selections.

Collectively our 2019 Reps For Rare Diseases team raised nearly $45,000 in support of Uplifting Athletes’ mission and our four programs – Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders.

Congratulations to all the members of our Reps For Rare Diseases squad that earned an opportunity to compete inside the lines at the highest level.

2019 Reps For Rare Diseases campaign set new standards across the board


During a pivotal time in their football lives, more than 50 NFL prospects used their first opportunities as professional athletes to give back.

The Uplifting Athletes 2019 Reps For Rare Diseases showcased these athletes in a month-long campaign that kicked off in late February with the NFL Combine and ran through March with individual NFL Pro Day workouts.

This year Reps For Rare Diseases set a new standard in terms of the number of athletes participating, the funds raised and awareness generated to shine a spotlight on the Rare Disease Community.

It was an honor to work with 56 outstanding athletes from 21 college football programs across the country.  The 2019 Reps For Rare Diseases campaign produced an overall audience of more than 10 million through social media and online news and raised nearly $45,000 to support the rare disease cause.

“Each one of our 2019 Reps For Rare Diseases participants stands out amongst their peers and really understands the position they are in to make a difference,” Uplifting Athletes Director of Sports Impact and NFL veteran Brett Brackett said. “It’s refreshing to work with people that, in the midst of the biggest job interview of their lives, will take the time to think about how they can help someone else.

“Many thanks to all of our participants for helping those affected by rare diseases. I’m proud to work for an organization that makes it easy for athletes to use their platform to make a positive impact on the community.”

With the Rare Disease Community on their hearts and driving them to train harder, the 2019 Reps For Rare Diseases team performed at a very high level including a record 14 athletes exceeding their $1,000 fundraising goal.

Ryan Bates, Trace McSorley and Koa Farmer from Penn State, Nick Allegretti of Illinois, Western Michigan’s Jamauri Bogan, Michigan State’s Jon Reschke, Dom Bragalone from Lehigh, Chris Myarick of Temple, Notre Dame’s Drue Tranquill, Jake Collins and Blake Hance from Northwestern, Eric Dungey of Syracuse, Georgia Tech’s Will Bryan and Charlie Volker from Princeton all raised more than $1,000 each.

The proceeds from 2019 Reps For Rare Diseases support the mission of Uplifting Athletes and its charitable programs: Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders.

This was the fifth consecutive year Uplifting Athletes empowered NFL prospects with the opportunity to use their platform to raise funds and awareness in support of the Rare Disease Community.

The first Reps For Rare Diseases campaign in 2015 was run by former Penn State and current Detroit Lions tight end Jesse James.

“Uplifting Athletes prides itself in helping athletes realize their potential to make a positive impact on the Rare Disease Community,” Brackett said. “Our Reps for Rare Diseases campaign is another unique example of this.”