2021 Reps For Rare Diseases campaign sets records, displays the power of sports

Empowering NFL prospects to use their Combine or Pro Day performance as a platform to give back and inspire the Rare Disease Community is what drives Uplifting Athletes Reps For Rare Diseases.

2021 marks the seventh consecutive year these athletes have used their platform to raise funds for Uplifting Athletes and introduce their fans, friends and family to the rare disease cause.

With the NFL bypassing its annual Combine and relying solely on individual university Pro Days in order to evaluate prospects, there was an air of uncertainty how this campaign would unfold when it kicked off March 6th.

“Uplifting Athletes is a great organization and has strong ties to Syracuse University,” said 2021 Reps For Rare Diseases participant Nolan Cooney, a former rare disease patient who served as a leader for the Syracuse Chapter. “I’m doing Reps For Rare Diseases to not just raise funds, but to use my platform to bring attention to the Rare Disease Community.”

Reps For Rare Diseases enables 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.

As we hoped, people were engaged and moved by the power of sports. Fans shared rare disease stories, donors were inspired by the heart of the players using their platform to serve a greater good and the Rare Disease Community was exposed to an audience of nearly 14 million during the month-long campaign.

“This opportunity was brought to me by marketing guys as something I could consider doing. So I looked into Uplifting Athletes, and for me it was a no brainer,” said former Texas Tech defensive end Eli Howard. “There’s 1 in 10 Americans living with a rare disease and this is a great opportunity to use my platform to help those with the rare diseases. Pro Day is all about yourself to be honest, but this is a way to make it about others. I love that. For me, this is such a blessing to be able to do this.”

This year, 54 NFL prospects from a record 31 schools participated in Reps For Rare Diseases. Each used their social media to promote their participation in the campaign and nearly half of them received additional media coverage including television, online media, podcasts and newspapers to share the message about the rare disease cause.

Fans showed their appreciation by leaving personal messages of thanks, motivation and inspiration on each players’ individual campaign page. Some of the examples include: 

  • I appreciate your action for this program. A rare disease in my family makes for challenging times and treatment. Thank you; 
  • You have done wonderful and I am so proud of you. The charity you have chosen shows that you are a man of good character; 
  • Thank you for having the heart of a champion, both on the field and for those in need within this community.

The Rare Disease Community also made sure its voice was heard: 

  • There will never be the right words to thank you for doing this for the rare disease community. So let this donation say what I can’t; 
  • As a father to a son who has an ultra rare genetic disease, Caleb’s work to bring awareness to our community means the world to me.

Some even left heartfelt notes in memory of those who lost their battles with a rare disease: 

  • So proud of you Will…what a great charity. Would like to honor my mother- who passed from ALS; 
  • Keep up the great work. In Loving Memory of our Beautiful One, Sophia Grace Webster, sunrise 3-20-20, sunset 4-2-20.

The 2021 campaign set a record with more than $111,500 raised to support Uplifting Athletes and its commitment to create Uplifting Leaders, engage in Uplifting Experiences, fund Rare Disease Research, and expand Rare Disease Awareness.

A record 31 of the participants raised at least $1,000, more than doubling the previous high of 14.

“I’m really excited that I (had) the opportunity to help people who have rare diseases,” said former Oregon defensive back Brady Breeze, who finished Reps For Rare Diseases as the No. 1 overall fundraiser with $6,065. “There’s a lot of people who have reached out to me and thanked me for doing it. They’re rare diseases for a reason. People don’t know they exist until they get a note from the doctor. I really want to help those people out that have diseases that aren’t recognized as much. I just want to help in any way I can.”

Horizon Therapeutics plc and Uplifting Athletes worked together for the second year in a row as Reps For Rare Diseases teammates. Horizon matched all donations up to $35,000 through its #RAREis program, which is dedicated to providing individuals living with a rare disease and families access to resources that connect, inform and educate as they navigate their daily lives.

“The guys that run (the Uplifting Athletes Chapter) for us at Northwestern are a couple of special dudes and put a lot of time and effort into this,” former Wildcats quarterback Peyton Ramsey said. “We all decided we needed to do our part and do this for a very good cause.. I’m grateful to all the fans who donated to support us.”

Executive Director Rob Long chosen by NORD as 2021 Rare Impact Award honoree

Uplifting Athletes Executive Director Rob Long has been chosen as a 2021 Rare Impact Award honoree by the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD).

The Rare Impact Awards celebrate the individuals, groups and companies making extraordinary strides on behalf of the millions of Americans impacted by rare disease.

“Despite the pandemic and the challenges we have faced, there are still heroes to be found among us from whom we can draw inspiration and motivation to keep moving forward,” said NORD President and CEO Peter L. Saltonstall. “At NORD, we are proud to honor these people, groups and companies for their achievements. We’re humbled to work alongside them and appreciative of their tenacity and commitment to a brighter future for our community.”

Rob and the rest of the 2021 honorees will be celebrated on June 28 during a live streaming event that starts at 7:00 p.m. EST.

Rob is a rare disease patient who had his life turned upside down more than a decade ago when he was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer called anaplastic astrocytoma. His prognosis at the time was less than encouraging, and his surgery, recovery and treatment took 16 months. An All-American punter at Syracuse, Rob was on a path to the NFL when he was diagnosed and lost out on that opportunity.

After joining Uplifting Athletes in 2016, Rob took over as the second Executive Director in the organization’s history late in 2018. In his more than two years as the Executive Director, Rob has advanced the impact Uplifting Athletes has on the Rare Disease Community significantly on two fronts. 

First, as a patient, he has the perspective that allows the organization to actively use their resources to engage with patients, families and caregivers on a deeper level to inspire them with hope.

Secondly, he has been largely responsible for expanding Uplifting Athletes’ commitment to funding research through the Young Investigator Draft. When Rob took over as Executive Director, the Young Investigator Draft was just getting started. Because of Rob’s unique and personal experience as a patient himself, he has charted a new and innovative way to support rare disease research.

Under Rob’s guidance, Uplifting Athletes has provided more than $300,000 in funding to 18 different rare disease researchers through its first three Young Investigator Drafts. From year No. 1 to year No. 2 the amount of each individual grant doubled, and in 2021 the organization committed to expand the number of grants it provides and established the Underrepresented Researchers in Medicine initiative to ensure underrepresented minority researchers are funded and celebrated through the Young Investigator Draft.

The Rare Impact Awards program is part of the Living Rare, Living Stronger NORD Patient and Family Forum, an annual conference that brings patients and families, advocates, health care professionals and other supporters together for learning, sharing and connecting.

2020 Rare Disease Champion Team: Learn more about Syracuse quarterback Rex Culpepper overcoming his rare cancer battle to shine on the field

Rex Culpepper

University: Syracuse University

Vitals: 6-3, 221 pounds, senior, quarterback

Quick Hits: A native of Florida who has a vast arsenal of talents and interests off the field, Rex persevered to become the Orange starting quarterback the second half of the 2020 season. The three-time ACC Honor Roll and seven-time SU Athletic Director’s Honor Roll selection made five starts at quarterback, threw for more than 1,000 yards with nine touchdowns and produced a memorable moment with a celebration of his first touchdown pass in more than three seasons. Diagnosed with a rare form of testicular cancer prior to the 2018 season, Rex came back to become one of 10 nominees for the inaugural Jim DaRin Courage Award and was a finalist for the 2018 Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award.  He layed quarterback, tight end and was an up blocker in kickoff coverage during his colorful Orange playing career. Some of his off-the-field hobbies include playing the guitar and piano, repairing motorcycles and, during COVID-19 lockdown, he learned the ins and outs of the stock market. Rex owns the Syracuse record for most passing yards by a quarterback in his first start when he threw for 280 yards against Boston College in 2017.

INSIDE THE RARE JOURNEY

There isn’t much conventional about the Syracuse quarterback from Florida whose father played in the NFL for nearly a decade and whose parents, Brad and Monica, have been contestants multiple times on the reality television show “Survivor”. Rex, like his parents, is a multi-talented free spirit with the fight and determination of a badger when facing adversity.

Rex lost his senior year of high school to a torn ACL suffered during a 7-on-7 workout during the summer and missed his redshirt sophomore year at Syracuse in 2018 after being diagnosed with testicular cancer in March of that year.

The type of cancer Rex endured is considered rare but is very treatable. He was very open about his diagnosis and inspired others with hope by sharing his journey publicly. He had a 98 percent cure rate diagnosis, attacked his 100 hours of chemotherapy with confidence in his ability to battle. Three weeks into his 10-week treatment protocol he returned to Syracuse for spring practice and threw a 17-yard touchdown pass in the Orange spring game.

Three days later he had a major scare that hammered home the brevity of what he faced despite the odds being in his favor. Rex had an allergic reaction to a mixing agent used in his treatment that had doctors rushing to his side. Later he told his teammates at an SU awards celebration that at that moment he thought his “life was out of my control.”

Rex did return to play the 2018 season, but not at quarterback. He switched positions to tight end and his only game action was on special teams as a wedge blocker on kickoffs.

During his grind to stay involved in football, Rex continued to inspire other patients in Central New York and beyond with his incredible commitment. His story gained national attention and would resurface nationally in 2020.

In Week 2 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Rex was called to take over under center against the Pitt Panthers. On his second snap, Rex snared the shotgun snap, twirled the ball in his hands and let fly a perfect strike downfield to wide receiver Taj Harris perfectly in stride. The 69-yard connection was the first touchdown pass Rex had thrown for Syracuse since his battle with cancer and his first since 2017.

Three long years of euphoria was let loose by Rex in that moment as his wild and emotional celebration was pure unvarnished joy being unleashed. The celebration clip went viral and so did his comeback story and the battle he endured to get to that moment.

Being back in the spotlight allowed Rex to continue to use his platform and share his updated story in order to serve as an inspiration for others. He ended up playing 10 games at quarterback in 2020 including five starts. He threw for more than 1,000 yards with nine touchdowns.

WHAT THEY SAID

“Rex has been through hell and back. To see him celebrating that touchdown with his teammates, it meant so much to us because we know the process it took to get to that moment. What we think is most admirable about Rex is his perseverance. I think that cancer at a young age like that, and 100 hours of chemotherapy, changes your perspective on a lot of things. You don’t really harbor the negative. You don’t be bitter. You just look forward to what’s next.” – Monica Culpepper

2020 Rare Disease Champion Team: Learn more about Syracuse punter Nolan Cooney using his experience as a rare cancer survivor to inspire hope

Nolan Cooney

University: Syracuse University

Vitals: 6-3, 202 pounds, senior, punter

Quick Hits: Nolan had a rare cancer scare in high school that gave him a different perspective on patience and made waiting four years to become the No. 1 punter for the Orange no problem. The four-time ACC Honor Roll and six-time Syracuse Athletic Director’s Honor Roll selection flourished during his year in the spotlight. A former Vice President for the Syracuse Chapter of Uplifting Athletes and the 2019 recipient of the team’s Jim DaRin Courage Award as a testicular cancer survivor, Nolan earned third-team All ACC honors and was an honorable mention All-American selection from Pro Football Focus. The former walk-on set a single-season program record averaging 44.8 yards per punt in 2020. He led the nation in punt attempts (74) with 24 downed inside the opposing 20-yard line, 25 traveling at least 50 yards and only three finding the end zone for a touchback. Nolan also was the kickoff specialist and, for the third consecutive season, was the kick holder. In addition to his on-field accomplishments, Nolan won the ACC’s Brian Piccolo Award, given annually to the most courageous player in the league.

INSIDE THE RARE JOURNEY

Elite athletes have this unique drive and mentality that no matter what the challenge in front of them might be, defeat is not an option. When Syracuse punter and NFL prospect Nolan Cooney was diagnosed with a rare form of testicular cancer that spread to his lungs as a junior in high school, in his mind this was just another challenge ripe to be defeated.

The road to a clean cancer scan was never going to be easy, and the 30 chemotherapy treatments Nolan endured over nine weeks took a toll on his body and challenged him mentally. Being a three-sport athlete was a part of his DNA. Sitting around and watching sports instead of playing, battling the side effects of chemo treatments and facing an uncertain future gave Nolan a perspective that helped shape who he is today.

Nolan returned to play basketball later in the season of his junior year in high school after he recovered. And on many fronts, the challenge of his diagnosis and his positive mental attitude allowed him to resume a normal life.

Deep down, though, Nolan knew this experience had changed him. While he was receiving his treatments he received a call from former champion cyclist and testicular cancer survivor Lance Armstrong. He also received a visit from Joe Andruzzi, a former New England Patriot and Super Bowl winning offensive lineman and cancer survivor. Andruzzi provides support to families affected by the disease in the New England area. 

Nolan remembers the impact those moments had on him during those dog days of treatment. And he knew part of his responsibility as a survivor was to pay it forward.

When Nolan arrived at Syracuse as a walk-on, he volunteered to serve in a leadership role for the Syracuse Chapter of Uplifting Athletes. It was an opportunity for him to give back and inspire others in the Rare Disease Community. He served in that role for three years.

More reserved and quiet than most in a college football locker room, Nolan stepped out in 2020 and became a stronger voice and advocate for the rare disease cause. Nolan has been more open with his story about his battle with testicular cancer and uses a podcast he hosts on positive mindset, health and nutrition as a platform to bring additional attention to the cause.

His stellar senior season in 2020, where he averaged a program record 44.8 yards per punt, has made Nolan a bona-fide NFL prospect. He will take his shot in 2021 and plans to use his platform in the run-up to the NFL Draft to continue his mission of raising awareness for the Rare Disease Community.

WHAT THEY SAID

“Through Uplifting Athletes, I found a connection to the rare disease cause with my own life, as I am a testicular cancer survivor. Using sports, specifically college football, to raise awareness also affords me the opportunity to use my platform to share my story and the importance athletics plays in it.” – Nolan Cooney

Meet the five inspiring leaders on the 2020 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Team

Uplifting Athletes is pleased to announce the 2020 Rare Disease Champion Team.

For more than a dozen years, Uplifting Athletes has celebrated leaders in college football that have made a positive and lasting impact on the Rare Disease Community through its Rare Disease Champion initiative.

The five members of the 2020 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion team are Syracuse punter Nolan Cooney, Syracuse quarterback Rex Culpepper, Stanford head coach David Shaw, Austin Peay defensive lineman Josephus Smith and Northwestern defensive lineman Joe Spivak. 

Uplifting Athletes couldn’t be more proud to share these inspiring rare disease stories.

“We have been moved by the way each member of the 2020 Rare Disease Champion Team has used their platform to inspire, serve and support the Rare Disease Community,” Uplifting Athletes Executive Director Rob Long said. “Our tradition of honoring the team at in-person events is not plausible during these times, but we feel it is our duty and honor to recognize, celebrate and share their inspiring accomplishments and stories.”

Each member of the 2020 Rare Disease Champion Team will be honored and celebrated during the first two weeks of Rare Disease Awareness Month in February 2021.

The Rare Disease Champion Team is an Uplifting Athletes awareness initiative that is part of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA). Nominees for the award were solicited from any NCAA FBS, FCS, Division II or Division III institution or college football program nationwide.

Kent State wide receiver Antwan Dixon, Davidson linebacker George Hatalowich, Syracuse offensive lineman Sam Heckel, Penn student assistant Anthony Lotti and Kentucky linebacker Josh Paschal comprised the 2019 Rare Disease Champion Team.

Past Rare Disease Champion winners consist of seven FBS players including USC long snapper Jake Olson (2016), UCF linebacker Shaquem Griffin (2018) and Auburn wide receiver Sammie Coates (2015), one FCS player, a Division III quarterback, two FBS assistant coach and an administrator from AFCA. 

The Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Team is a member of the National College Football Awards Association. The NCFAA encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 25 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935.

Chapter Update: Honoring FBS senior chapter leaders and three teams post Week 14 victories

As the 2020 college football season winds down, Uplifting Athletes would like to honor the contribution of nine veteran FBS chapter leaders in service to the Rare Disease Community.

Thank you to Nolan Cooney of Syracuse, Thomas Ruocchio and Dylan Autenrieth of NC State, Michael Marchese of Illinois, Will Spiers of Clemson, Jack DeFoor of Georgia Tech, Joe Spivak of Northwestern, Brock Wright of Notre Dame and Jake Funk of Maryland for inspiring the Rare Disease Community with hope.

Best wishes to each of you in the next step of your journey. You will always be a part of the Uplifting Athletes family.


Northwestern: For the sixth consecutive year, the Wildcats claimed the Land of Lincoln Trophy over rival and fellow chapter school Illinois. Northwestern amassed more than 400 yards on the ground for the first time since 2003. Running backs Evan Hull and Cam Porter combined for 291 of those yards and three touchdowns. Northwestern Chapter leader, defensive lineman Joe Spivak, had three tackles. Illinois Chapter leader, linebacker Michael Marchese, had three solo tackles and a pass break-up. The Wildcats are champions of the Big Ten West for the second time in three years and will play Ohio State Saturday in the Big Ten Championship game.

Penn State: A monster second half propelled the Nittany Lions past Michigan State for their third win in a row. Penn State outscored the Spartans 29-3 in the second half on Senior Day. Quarterback Sean Clifford threw a pair of second-half touchdown passes to Parker Washington, and Jahan Dotson returned a punt 81 yards for a score. Dotson became the third Big Ten player since 2000 to record 100 receiving yards and return a punt for a touchdown in the same game, joining Michigan’s Steve Breaston (2006) and Wisconsin’s Brandon Williams (2005). Clifford, former Penn State Chapter President, finished with 280 total yards (232 passing, 48 rushing) and accounted for three touchdowns.

Florida State: Quarterback Jordan Travis sparked a ground game that churned out more than 300 yards and accounted for six touchdowns in the victory over Duke. The redshirt sophomore rushed for 90 yards, setting FSU’s single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 559 – surpassing the 504 by Charlie Ward in 1992. Florida State Chapter President, linebacker DeCalon Brooks, finished with three tackles.

Round-Up: The final play of the key Western Michigan game at Ball State saw the Broncos score an apparent game winning touchdown after a wild series of laterals only to see an illegal forward pass negate the play. The Broncos outgained the Cardinals 491-352 and led by 14 heading into the fourth quarter. … Maryland Chapter leader, running back Jake Funk, had 180 yards on only 17 carries with a touchdown before leaving the game with an injury in an overtime setback to Rutgers. It was the first time in his career where Funk scored a touchdown and the Terrapins didn’t claim victory. … The Georgia Tech defense kept the Yellow Jackets in the game against Pitt, limiting the Panthers to only one touchdown in six trips inside the red zone. Pitt’s ground game allowed the Panthers to keep the ball away from the Tech offense in the victory, by running up more than 300 rushing yards and nearly 40 minutes in time of possession. … Baylor took the field against Top 25 ranked Oklahoma State shorthanded because of COVID-19. The Bears were missing 47 players, coaches and support staff in the loss to the Cowboys.

Each week during the college football season we will feature a player who is an officer for an Uplifting Athletes Chapter. This week we feature Stony Brook offensive lineman and Chapter Vice President Kyle Nunez.

Chapter Update: Historical victory for Penn State and three other schools post Week 13 wins

Penn State became the ninth program in college football to win 900 games with its road triumph over Rutgers. It was the Nittany Lions’ second win in a row in their 134th season.

Running the football has been the formula for recent Penn State success offensively, as the Nittany Lions eclipsed 245-plus yards for the third time in its last four games. True freshman running back Keyvonne Lee paced the Lions with 95 yards on 17 carries.

Penn State’s defense was the difference maker, limiting the Scarlet Knights to only 205 total yards and producing a pair of first-half fourth-and-1 stops in Rutgers territory that the offense turned into touchdowns.

NC State: The Wolfpack closed out their most successful ACC season with their fourth win a row – holding off fellow chapter school Georgia Tech in a tight game NC State led wire-to-wire. The victory was the seventh in the ACC for NC State, the most conference wins in school history. Junior kicker Christopher Dunn had three field goals, moving him into first place in the NC State record books for career field goals made. Dunn now has 56 career field goals. NC State Chapter Vice President, tight end Dylan Autenreith, had his first catch of the season. Georgia Tech Chapter leaders, offensive linemen Jack DeFoor and Zach Quinney, started at left guard and tackle, respectively.

Clemson: Trevor Lawrence became the winningest starting quarterback in program history with the Tigers’ victory over Virginia Tech. Lawrence posted victory No. 33, surpassing Rodney Williams, Tajh Boyd and Deshaun Watson, who each had 32. Lawrence is 33-1 as the starting quarterback. Clemson secured its sixth straight trip to the ACC Championship where it will face fellow chapter school Notre Dame in a highly anticipated re-match. The Tigers scored 28 unanswered second-half points to subdue the Hokies.

Notre Dame: Ian Book became the winningest starting quarterback in program history with the Fighting Irish’s victory over fellow chapter school Syracuse. Book threw for 285 yards and five total touchdowns for win No. 30 of his career. Notre Dame RB Kyren Williams finished with 110 yards on 20 carries to eclipse the 1,000 yard mark for the season. He is the first Irish sophomore since Darius Walker in 2005 to eclipse 1,000 yards in a season. Notre Dame Chapter leaders, linebackers Drew White and JD Bertrand, combined for three solo tackles and White added 1.5 tackles for a loss. Syracuse running back Sean Tucker eclipsed 100 yards for the third time this season, joining Joe Morris in 1978 as the only Orange freshmen to rush for 100-plus three times in a season. Former Syracuse Chapter leader, punter Nolan Cooney, punted seven times for 298 yards to finish the season with 3,314 yards – good enough for second all-time for punting yards in a single season.

Round-Up: The Baylor defense ended Oklahoma’s streak of 60 straight games scoring at least 28 points and held the No. 11 ranked Sooners to their lowest point total in five years in a 13-point loss. … Illinois held a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter but couldn’t continue the momentum it built early and Iowa scored the next 35 points on its way to a 14-point win on Senior Day at Memorial Stadium. Illinois Chapter Vice President, linebacker Michael Marchese, finished with five total tackles including a pair of solo stops. … Western Michigan dropped its first game of the season, getting outscored by Eastern Michigan in a shootout that produced more than 1,000 yards of total offense. The Broncos have one regular-season game remaining, a road affair at Ball State with a berth in the MAC Championship Game on the line for the winner. Western Michigan Chapter Vice President, safety Jake Moertl, had a season-high five tackles.

Each week during the college football season we will feature a player who is an officer for an Uplifting Athletes Chapter. This week we feature Western Michigan safety and Chapter Vice President Jake Moertl.

Chapter Update: Baylor rallies to win in dramatic fashion and six other teams record Week 12 victories

Baylor snapped its five-game slide in dramatic fashion, using a 30-yard John Mayers field goal as time expired to come from behind and beat Kansas State by a point.

The Bears twice overcame nine-point, fourth-quarter deficits and scored the final 10 points, including driving 57 yards in 10 plays to set up the winning kick. QB Charlie Brewer, who was 4-for-4 on the final drive, finished with 405 total yards and two touchdowns each passing and rushing.

Penn State: A season-high 254 yards on the ground powered Penn State to its first victory in 2020 with a win on the road at Michigan. The Nittany Lions’ last victory in Ann Arbor was 2009. True freshman RB Keyvonne Lee had a career-high 134 yards to pace the offense. Former Penn State Chapter President, quarterback Sean Clifford, chipped in 226 total yards including a 29-yard touchdown scamper. The Nittany Lions defense limited Michigan to fewer than 300 total yards and held the Wolverines to a paltry 5-for-15 on third and fourth down conversions. 

Notre Dame: The No. 2 ranked Fighting Irish scored the final 14 points to pull away from North Carolina down the stretch and post their 15th consecutive victory. Notre Dame’s defense held a Tar Heels offense that came in averaging more than 43 points a game to a season-low 17 points and fewer than 300 total yards. RB Kyren Williams had the second three-touchdown game of his career. Notre Dame Chapter President, linebacker Drew White, finished with five tackles including a pair of tackles for a loss and a half-sack. 

Clemson: The No. 3 ranked Tigers saw the return of starting quarterback Trevor Lawrence after a two-game absence and Clemson proceeded to score a school-record 31 points in the first quarter against Pitt. Lawrence finished with 403 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns. The Tigers’ defense hauled in five turnovers including three interceptions in the first nine Pitt pass attempts. Wide receiver Cornell Powell, had six catches for 176 yards and a touchdown to become only the third Tiger wide receiver to finish with 150 or more receiving yards in back-to-back games and the first since Sammy Watkins in 2013.

Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets amassed more than 375 yards on the ground and freshman quarterback Jeff Sims threw three touchdown passes to pull away from Duke in their 88th meeting. The Yellow Jackets defense forced five turnovers and Tech scored the final 21 points to pull away. Georgia Tech Chapter leaders, offensive linemen Jack DeFoor and Zach Quinney, started at left guard and left tackle, respectively.

NC State: Powered by a career-high 313 yards and four touchdowns from quarterback Bailey Hockman, the Wolfpack won their third in a row by coming from behind to nudge past fellow chapter school Syracuse. NC State scored the final 16 points after falling behind 29-20 late in the third quarter. Former Syracuse Chapter leader, punter Nolan Cooney, averaged 43.1 yards on seven punts and was named the Orange team captain for the game.

Western Michigan: The Broncos rallied for 10 points in the final 9:12 to stay unbeaten with a victory over Northern Illinois. Wide receiver D’Wayne Eskridge had 285 all-purpose yards including the eighth 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in program history. WMU’s defense had five sacks, 13 tackles for a loss and six pass break-ups. Western Michigan Chapter Vice President, safety Jake Moertl, had a solo tackle for the Broncos.

Round-Up: For the second time this season Northwestern overcame a 17-point deficit, only this time the Wildcats couldn’t hold on in the fourth quarter as Michigan State scored the final 12 points to hand the Wildcats their first loss of the season. Northwestern Chapter Vice President, defensive lineman Joe Spivak, finished with three tackles. … Maryland wide receiver Dontay Demus Jr. tallied his fourth career 100-yard receiving game and second of the season, posting six receptions for 114 yards including a 43-yard touchdown catch in the loss to No. 11 Indiana. This is the fifth-straight game Demus posted at least four receptions, becoming the first Terp to accomplish that feat since Stefon Diggs in 2014. … Kent State suffered its first loss of the season against a Buffalo team that saw running back Jare Patterson rush for 409 yards and eight touchdowns. Kent State Chapter President, wide receiver Isaac Vance, had six catches for 45 yards.

Each week during the college football season we will feature a player who is an officer for an Uplifting Athletes Chapter. This week we feature Kent State receiver/returner and Chapter President Isaac Vance.

Chapter Update: Northwestern locks down Wisconsin to win fifth straight and four other teams register Week 11 victories

Northwestern is 5-0 overall for the first time since 2015 after knocking off No. 10 Wisconsin. The last time the Wildcats knocked off an AP Top-10 team was 2011 when it beat Nebraska.

The last time Northwestern held an AP Top-10 opponent to seven or fewer points was 1967 against Miami. The Wildcats defense produced five turnovers, held Wisconsin to 5-for-20 (25 percent) on third and fourth downs and did not allow the Badgers to take a single snap in the red zone.

For the fourth time in five games, Northwestern held an opponent scoreless in the second half and has now outscored the opposition 47-10 in the second half this season. The Wildcats turned it over only once and had just one penalty for five yards.

Quarterback Peyton Ramsey had a pair of touchdown passes to pace the Wildcats offense. Linebackers Blake Gallagher and Paddy Fisher combined for 27 tackles, three tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a sack. Northwestern Chapter Vice President, defensive tackle Joe Spivak, started up front and finished with a pair of tackles.

Illinois: Sparked by an offense that rang up nearly 500 yards and a defense that produced five turnovers, the Illini won its second game in a row by winning at Nebraska for the first time since 1924. Running backs Mike Epstein and Chase Brown each rushed for more than 100 yards against the Huskers. It is the first time Illinois has had back-to-back games with two 100-plus yard rushers since Rocky Harvey and Antonio Harris in 2000. The back-to-back road victories marks the first time since 2007 Illinois has won consecutive Big Ten games away from home. 

NC State: Linebacker Vi Jones blocked a 39-yard field goal attempt with 1:20 left to give the Wolfpack their first win over a nationally ranked opponent at home since 2017, and the first at home over a ranked non-conference foe since 2007 in edging No. 21 Liberty. The block by Jones was his third blocked kick of the season. Linebacker Isaiah Moore had a team-high 13 tackles and forced a safety in the third quarter, the first Wolfpack two-pointer on defense since 2010. 

Kent State: The Golden Flashes are 3-0 for the first time since 1958 after securing the Wagon Wheel for the second consecutive year by drubbing rival Akron. The Flashes tied school records for most points in a single game (69) and most total yards in a single game (750) as well as broke the school record for yards per play (9.62). It is the first time in school history that the Flashes have scored 60-plus points in back-to-back games, becoming just the third Mid-American Conference (MAC) school to do so since 1970. Dustin Crum became the first quarterback in Kent State history to throw for three touchdowns and rush for two scores in the victory. Crum finished with 452 total yards (348 passing, 104 rushing), the third most in school history, and became the first Golden Flashes player since Julian Edelman in 2008 to have two touchdowns both rushing and passing. Kent State Chapter President, wide receiver Isaac Vance, had four catches for 36 yards.

Western Michigan: For the third year in a row the Broncos secured the Victory Cannon Trophy as WMU defeated rival Central Michigan. Western Michigan rang  up a staggering 628. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Kaleb Eleby finished with a career-high 382 yards passing and a career-best five touchdown passes. Redshirt senior wide receiver D’Wayne Eskridge led all Broncos with 212 yards receiving and three touchdowns on just four receptions. 

Round-Up: Penn State fell behind Iowa by 27 points before former Penn State Chapter President, back-up quarterback Sean Clifford, threw a pair of touchdown passes on consecutive throws to slice the deficit to 10 late in the third quarter. However, it wasn’t enough as the Nittany Lions turned it over four times, including a pick-six, in the loss. … Three turnovers and limited firepower on offense stalled Syracuse in a setback to Louisville. The Orange managed only seven first downs and were blanked for the first time since 2016. Former Syracuse Chapter Leader, punter Nolan Cooney, is on pace to set the school standard for punting average after he averaged 44.5 yards per kick with a pair over 50 yards and two inside the 20.

Each week during the college football season we will feature a player who is an officer for an Uplifting Athletes Chapter. This week we feature NC State tight end and Chapter Vice President Dylan Autenrieth.

Chapter Update: Notre Dame claims a thriller over No. 1 Clemson in double OT and four other chapter schools notch Week 9 victories

For the ninth time in program history Notre Dame knocked off the No. 1 team in the country with a thrilling double overtime victory over fellow chapter school Clemson. Notre Dame extended its active win streak to 13 games, the most of any FBS school, and ended Clemson’s 36-game regular-season winning streak.

Running back Kyren Williams paced Notre Dame with 140 yards on the ground and three touchdowns including both Fighting Irish scores in overtime. Linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah returned a Clemson fumble 23 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter for the first touchdown this season by the Notre Dame defense.

Fighting Irish kicker Jonathan Doerer set a Notre Dame program record, accounting for 18 kicking points including four field goals. Clemson freshman quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei threw for 439 yards, the third-most yards in school history and the most ever by a freshman surpassing Deshaun Watson’s 435 against North Carolina in 2014. His total was also the most passing yards ever by an opposing quarterback against Notre Dame, surpassing the 425 yards by USC’s Carson Palmer in 2002.

Notre Dame Chapter President, linebacker Drew White, tied for the team lead in tackles with nine and also had a tackle for a loss. 

Maryland: The Terrapins put up the most points ever in their 44-game history with Penn State by scoring 35 to post Maryland’s first victory over the Nittany Lions since 2014. Terps Sophomore quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa threw for 282 yards and three touchdowns after throwing for nearly 400 a week ago. Tagovailoa posted the most passing yards by a quarterback (676) in back-to-back wins since Scott Milanovich threw for 692 yards in back-to-back games in 1994. Maryland Chapter President, running back Jake Funk, led the Terrapins with 80 rushing yards and scored on a 38-yard run early in the second quarter. Former Penn State Chapter President, quarterback Sean Clifford, established a program record with 57 pass attempts and recorded the third 300-yard game of his career. Penn State wide receiver Jahan Dotson is the first player to have a touchdown catch in each of his first three games since Allen Robinson in 2012, and Dotson’s five touchdowns in the first three games of the season equals the Penn State record set by Joe Jurevicius in 1997.

Northwestern: For the third game in a row the Wildcats defense kept the opposition off the scoreboard in the second half in a win over Nebraska. Senior linebacker Paddy Fisher, Blake Gallagher and Chris Bergin all had double-digit tackles for the second game in a row. Northwestern is 3-0 for the first time since 2015 and the last time it started with three straight Big Ten wins was 2000. Northwestern Chapter Vice President, defensive tackle Joe Spivak, made his second consecutive start and registered one tackle. Wildcats redshirt freshman safety Brandon Joseph, S, Northwestern: The redshirt freshman notched his third interception of the season in the second quarter against Nebraska to become the first Big Ten player since 2016 to record three interceptions through three games and became the first Wildcats freshman with picks in back-to-back games since 2003.

Western Michigan: The Broncos rolled up 50-plus points in their season opener on the road behind 262 passing yards and a career-best three touchdown passes from quarterback Kaleb Eleby. Western Michigan Chapter Vice President, junior safety Jake Moertl, had a pair of tackles for the Broncos.

Kent State: The Golden Flashes used a game-winning touchdown pass from Dustin Crum to Mark Williams with 7:31 left to post a victory in their season opener. Kent State’s win was its fifth in a row dating back to last season and marks the longest winning streak since 2012. Kent State Chapter President, wide receiver Isaac Vance, had three catches for 19 yards.

Round-Up: NC State took a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter but couldn’t hold off No. 11 Miami at home. Wolfpack sophomore Zonovan Knight tied the school record for the longest play in school history with a 100-yard kickoff return late in the third quarter.  Knight joined four others in the record book. … Illinois fell to 0-3 despite a career-best 63-yard touchdown run by RB Mike Epstein. … Baylor used three first-half interceptions to surge in front of No. 17 ranked Iowa State 21-10 at intermission, but couldn’t hold on, surrendering 28 unanswered points to the Cyclones in a back-and-forth affair that came down to the wire. … Syracuse played one of its best defensive games of the season in a tight game with Boston College at home. … Florida State started fast with a pair of first-quarter touchdowns but couldn’t sustain that early momentum against Pittsburgh. Florida State Chapter Vice President, wide receiver Keyshawn Helton, had three catches for the Seminoles.

Each week during the college football season we will feature a player who is an officer for an Uplifting Athletes Chapter. This week we feature Syracuse long snapper and Chapter President Aaron Bolinsky.