Senior Manager of Public Relations
JACKSONVILLE –Jacksonville Jaguars fourth-year CB Aaron Colvin has been named the team's 2017 Ed Block Courage Award winner, as voted on by his teammates.
"I can't really put it into words," said Colvin. "Everything I do is for God, but to have my teammates' support and approval and to realize that the hard work that I've put in and the challenges that I've overcome to be in this situation, it means the world to me. It reminds me that everything I did, and all the work and all the people that have assisted me in the process, that it's paid off and I'm excited to be back out there on the field with my teammates."
The Ed Block Courage Award is an annual honor presented to players in the NFL, who are voted by their teammates as role models of inspiration, sportsmanship and courage.
"A.C. epitomizes a player that overcomes whatever adversity is presented to him and he is the perfect person to win the Ed Block Courage Award," said Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey. "He is an incredibly selfless teammate and will do whatever he can to help the team win. He is an amazingly talented player and I am honored to be able to line up next to him and watch him make plays for years to come."
After a prolific four-year career at the University of Oklahoma, including a first-team All-Big 12 selection and being named a semi-finalist for the Thorpe Award, Colvin was destined towards a first-round draft selection in the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft. After appearing in 50 games with 36 starts in Norman, and totaling 234 tackles and five INTs, Colvin was receiving high praise from draft pundits, and was ready to excel at the professional level. Unfortunately, that dream was delayed when Colvin sustained an ACL injury during the second practice of the 2014 Senior Bowl.
"It was tough, I'm not going to lie, but I'm a fighter and I've been through adversity before," said Colvin.
"A lot of guys come into the National Football League in top shape, but for me, I was just trying to get back to my normal self. I knew I had to attack it with everything that I have. I was just trying to get over that knee injury, mentally and physically, so I had a lot more pressure and a lot more on my plate than the average rookie. There was a lot of added weight with the injury, learning the playbook and staying in shape. I just wanted to be ready for when my opportunity came on the field."
Colvin was selected by the Jaguars in the fourth round (114th overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft and began the season on the team's physically unable to perform list. He made his NFL debut on Nov. 23, 2014, at Indianapolis, and ended up playing in six games during his rookie season. In his sophomore season in 2015, Colvin had a breakout year, totaling 73 tackles and seven passes defensed. His momentum continued in 2016, when he continued to find success, but that was derailed due to a late season ankle injury in Week 16 against the Colts, when he was placed on the team's reserve/injured list for the final two games of the season.
"At first, it was like, 'Here we go again,'" said Colvin. "I was so close to finishing off the season, but again, I had been there before. It was disappointing because I wanted to be there for my team, but I couldn't be. My faith is kind of what changed it all. I relied on my faith, my family and my friends and because of the situation with the Senior Bowl I knew what to expect, I knew how to go about my rehab, I know what I did right last time and I know what I did wrong last time. It was an easier transition than the first injury. My faith allowed me to not have any worries. I never doubted God once and I knew that it happened for a reason."
Colvin then underwent months of grueling rehab as he aspired to be back on the field for the 2017 season-opener against Houston on Sept. 10. While the team returned to the field for spring workouts, Colvin worked on the side with the team's training staff for days on end.
"It's lonely because you see the guys on the other field having fun, grinding, perfecting their craft, and I'm there just trying to get healthy and get back to being my normal self. However, I had a great support system with me with (Jaguars Associate Athletic Trainer / Physical Therapist) Robby (Hoenshel), with (Jaguars Athletic Performance Specialist/ Physical Therapy Assistant) A.J. (Neibel), with the entire training staff, and it was a blessing in disguise because it helped me out with life and not just football. The entire training room continually made me feel like I was a part of the family. The coaches still included me in team activities and I am really close with a lot of my teammates, so they kept me involved, but it's different when you aren't actually out there."
Jaguars Associate Athletic Trainer / Physical Therapist Robby Hoenshel credits Colvin's mindset and approach to how effective he was during the rehab process. "It's easy to push along people that want to get better," said Hoenshel. "He is a grinder. He is a really hard worker and doesn't get down a lot. His dedication and his drive to get better always shined through with everything that we did."
While rehabbing the left ankle injury in the lead up to the 2017 season, Colvin had surgery to clean up his right knee, which would seem to be a major setback for most players, but Hoenshel says that Colvin was able to persevere through it. "He was treating two injuries at once and we were never able to focus on just one thing; we were always going back and forth between the two. He was dealing with bilateral injuries, which makes his return and the way he approached the process that much more impressive. Those are tough to deal with. I think when you have someone who approaches the game and rehab like Aaron does, his body of work speaks for itself. It's been amazing, from my perspective, to see him grow and get back out there."
On Aug. 19, during the team's training camp, Colvin returned to practice and was ecstatic about doing so. "Bouncing back from a knee injury and an ankle injury, I was a little nervous at first. It had been a long time since I stepped on the football field. I just felt so strong and structurally sound that I knew I'd be back like I never left. Truthfully, my first day back at practice was probably one of the best practices I've had since being in Jacksonville. I knew that I would be fine and I just needed to get back into the groove of things."
Now approaching the final stretch of the regular season, Colvin is back to playing at an elite level, including a career performance in Week 5 at Pittsburgh when he posted a career-high 10 tackles. The Jaguars secondary is considered among the best in the NFL and leads the NFL in scoring defense and opposing passing yards per game.
"God has been really good to me through this entire situation. When you're going through the rehab process, you don't really see the light at the end of the tunnel. You are focused on the task at hand and you try to take it one day at a time. Now, to see my hard work paying off and to be out there with my teammates, and to see all of the hard work of the training staff and the strength staff, there is really no feeling like it."
While talking about the team's current success and his role in it, Colvin became reminiscent of the long days and nights that led him to this place. "My support system in Jacksonville, my support system back home, I'm so appreciative of everyone involved. When I sit back and think about all the times, when it was 1 a.m. and I was doing knee exercises dreaming of being back out there on the field, it's really gratifying to see it all come together."
The Ed Block Courage Award is named in honor of Ed Block, the former athletic trainer for the Baltimore Colts (1954-1977), who raised awareness for the prevention of child abuse and helped establish "Courage Houses," a national network of houses that help abused children in NFL cities around the country.
"The Ed Block Courage Award represents an important symbol of the connection between the players and athletic trainers in the NFL," said Jaguars Head Athletic Trainer Scott Trulock. "We value the opportunity we have to aid the players in their recovery from injury and adversity in both their professional and personal lives. The Jaguars Medical Staff shares a special bond with Aaron, as he has had to overcome several challenges in his efforts to achieve success on the field. We are honored that his peers have chosen to recognize him and give him a place on our wall with all the other former Jaguars recipients, including Mark Brunell, Tony Boselli, Fred Taylor, Jimmy Smith, Brad Meester and Greg Jones, among others."
The Jacksonville Jaguars and the Ed Block Courage Award Foundation announced that Neighbor To Family has been chosen to be the Jaguars/Ed Block Courage House award recipient. Neighbor To Family, headquartered in Daytona Beach, FL, with offices in Jacksonville, specializes in keeping sibling groups together. For more information on the Ed Block Courage Award, please visit http://www.jaguars.com/edblock/.