VIDEO: Antonio Wimbush Feature
CLEVELAND – Carson-Newman running back Antonio Wimbush (Kingsland, Ga.) has been named a nominee for the Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year award.
Ten times during the 2018 college football season, three inspiring student-athletes from all levels of college football who have overcome injury, illness or other challenges will be recognized as Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year Nominees. At the end of the season, the 30 nominees will be eligible for the Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year Award.
Wimbush was recognized this week alongside Old Dominion wide receiver Jonathan Duhart and Widener running back Donte' Harrell. Duhart, Harrell and Wimbush join previous nominees Caleb Farley (Virginia Tech), Cody Thompson (University of Toledo), Nate Ricci (University of Minnesota–Duluth), Antwan Dixon (Kent State University), Tanner Mangum (Brigham Young University) and Marquez Stevenson (University of Houston).
Wimbush tore his ACL and meniscus in a week two contest in 2017 against Saint Augustine's.
Wimbush was bullish in the offseason with his rehab and work ethic. Within six months of his surgery, he was squatting 525 pounds. Carson-Newman Director of Sports Performance Johnny Long has called Wimbush, pound-for-pound, the strongest player on the football team.
The rehab efforts have paid off for the redshirt junior. Wimbush leads the South Atlantic Conference and is 11th in the nation in rushing with 645 yards through six weeks. He is averaging 7.68 yards per carry, the top figure in the SAC and a tally that ranks fifth nationally.
Wimbush returned to the field for the Eagles 2018 opener, carrying 12 times for 96 yards in a loss to West Florida. A week later, Wimbush established a career high with 184 yards on just 21 carries and three scores in a 33-29 win at Virginia Union on his way to AstroTurf SAC Player of the Week honors. In this week's 52-24 win over Limestone, he tallied 155 yards on just eight carries, including a 72-yard touchdown run.
The rushing efforts against Virginia Union and Limestone are the eighth and ninth 100-yard games of his career. They also go down as his two highest single-game rushing efforts.
The College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) in association with The Associated Press (AP) and the Fiesta Bowl organization select the student-athletes.
All nominees are now eligible for the Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year Award, presented at the end of the season. Mayo Clinic, the premier sponsor, will donate $5,000 to the general scholarship funds for the three winners and $2,500 in the name of six other worthy finalists. In addition, the three honorees will be recognized during a special ceremony during the 2019 Fiesta Bowl. Honorees and winners are selected by a panel of writers, editors and sports information directors from CoSIDA, AP and Touchdown Illustrated, and representatives of the Fiesta Bowl.
Chad Pennington, the only player twice named professional football's comeback player of the year award winner (2006, 2008), will serve as the Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year Award ambassador. Pennington played his college football at Marshall University and was selected in the first-round of the 2000 NFL Draft by the New York Jets.