Sophomore outside linebacker has returned to action less than a year after tearing ACL
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Sophomore outside linebacker J.J. Weaver has been named a nominee for the 2021 Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year Award, it was announced today by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), in association with The Associated Press (AP) and the Fiesta Bowl Organization.
Weaver, a 6-foot-5, 231-pounder from Louisville, Kentucky, was having a breakout freshman campaign with 33.5 tackles and 6.5 tackles for a loss through nine games when he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee at Florida last November. Despite missing the final two games, the redshirt freshman still earned All-Southeastern Conference Freshman Team honors.
That injury capped off a very difficult year for Weaver, who also lost his father to homicide and recently his high school coach passed away due to cancer. As a result, his challenging off-season included both the rehabilitation of his knee and undergoing counseling to deal with his grief. Both have been successful as he has returned to the field with a strong knee and a clear mind for the 2021 season. Through five games this year, Weaver has recorded 14 tackles, including 5.5 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks, a forced fumble and an interception. This past weekend was especially emotional for Weaver as he took the field against SEC-rival Florida, the same team he injured his knee against just 10 months ago. His stellar defensive prowess helped the Wildcats upset the 10th-ranked Gators as he totaled four tackles and his first career interception, setting up a touchdown in UK’s 20-13 victory.
All of the nominees are inspiring student-athletes from all levels of college football who have overcome injury, illness, or other challenges. They are recognized as Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year Nominees by a panel of writers, editors, and sports information directors from CoSIDA, AP and Touchdown Illustrated. In December, three of the 30 nominees will be chosen as winners of the Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year Award and will be recognized at a special ceremony during the PlayStation® Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1, 2022, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. CoSIDA members can nominate football student-athletes until Nov. 1, 2021 at Comeback-Player.com.
Also nominated along with Weaver today are McKenzie Milton, a senior quarterback at Florida State and Sean Chambers, a junior quarterback at Wyoming. The previously announced nominees are: Terrel Bernard (LB, Baylor); Yohance Burnett (LB, Tulsa); Jack Coan (QB, Notre Dame); Aidan Hutchinson (DE, Michigan); Brian Kearns, Jr (RB, Stonehill College); John Mitchell (TE, Florida Atlantic); Justyn Ross (Clemson); Avery Samuels (Stetson); and Corey Sutton (Appalachian State).
Past winners of the Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year Award have included: 2018 – Antwan Dixon (Kent State), Seth Simmer (Dartmouth), Antonio Wimbush (Carson-Newman); 2019 – Jake Luton (Oregon State), Drew Wilson (Georgia Southern), Octavion Wilson (Salisbury University); 2020 – Jarek Broussard (Colorado), Kenneth Horsey (Kentucky) and Silas Kelly (Coastal Carolina). For a complete list of past honorees and additional details on their remarkable comeback stories, visit www.Comeback-Player.com; follow via Twitter at @ComebackPlayrFB via the hashtag #MayoClinicCPOY; and on Instagram at @Comeback_Player_CFB. Mayo Clinic does not have any role in selecting the nominees or winners of the award.
About Mayo Clinic: Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization committed to innovation in clinical practice, education and research, and providing compassion, expertise and answers to everyone who needs healing. Visit the Mayo Clinic News Network for additional Mayo Clinic news. For information on COVID-19, including Mayo Clinic’s Coronavirus Map tracking tool, which has 14-day forecasting on COVID-19 trends, visit the Mayo Clinic COVID-19 Resource Center.