CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Graduate student Mike Hollins was named the 22nd winner of the Capital One-Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award. Hollins, a graduate student, played in 11 of 12 games for the Cavaliers this season after surviving the Nov. 13, 2022 shootings that took the lives of three of his UVA teammates.

“It meant a lot to me,” Hollins said of playing this season. “I feel like all season it meant a little bit more to me than it did for everyone else. And it wasn’t really the wins or losses that really mattered. It was the effort and knowing what you were playing for. If the effort wasn’t there, or if you didn’t know what you were playing for, I didn’t care if we won or if we lost. This year was just about will — showing your will, showing your will to compete, to win. Because it’s clearer than ever that football is so much bigger than us. Our impact is so much bigger and we just have a lot more to play for.

“So that was just on my mind all year, every day, and obviously I had a spotlight on me that I didn’t ask for. But through my faith I was able to carry it, through my teammates, I was able to carry it, and through those parents that lost their sons I was also able to carry it.”

Virginia student-athletes Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry were shot and killed last fall after returning to the Grounds from a class field trip. Hollins was shot twice when he returned to the bus to try and help his teammates.

Hollins recovered from his wounds and returned to the Hoos’ football program in the spring.

Virginia’s final two games of the 2022 season were canceled in the aftermath of the shooting. When the program took the field for this year’s season opener on Sept. 2 against Tennessee in Nashville, Hollins carried the team flag on to the field and entered the game on the Hoos’ third play from scrimmage.

One week later, in Virginia’s first game at Scott Stadium since the shootings, Hollins carried a “UVA Strong” flag on to the field. Hollins rushed for two touchdowns in the game against JMU. On the day before the game, Hollins and the Virginia program gathered on the Grounds for a ceremonial tree planting and plaque dedication near the site of the shooting to honor Chandler, Davis Jr. and Perry.

“Mike displayed tremendous courage the night he returned to the bus to help his teammates and the other students on that field trip,” Tony Elliott said. “That type of action speaks to who he is and his beliefs. But that’s courage in a flash. The road back to playing football this year took a different type of courage. He had to overcome physical and mental obstacles, he had to cope with the loss of his teammates and he had to perform knowing there were a lot of eyes on him. That was a remarkable accomplishment and I still marvel at how he did it, and more importantly, the way he did it.”

The 5-9, 204-pound Hollins carried the ball 80 times this season for 274 yards and rushed for seven touchdowns, to go with 10 catches for 34 yards and a receiving touchdown. He turned in a three-touchdown performance in UVA’s 31-27 upset win over then-No. 10 North Carolina on Oct. 21. After the conclusion of the 2023 season, Hollins was voted by his teammates as one of five team captains. For his career, Hollins had 814 rushing yards, 34 receptions, 241 receiving yards and 15 total touchdowns.

“Mike was more deliberate as a leader for our team this season,” Elliott said. “It meant a lot for him to honor his fallen teammates by the way our team responded and carried itself this year and he guided us by example. I can’t say enough about how proud I am of Mike and how fortunate we are to have him as part of the Virginia program. He is a young man who will blaze an incredible path during his life. He has already started by making those around us better thanks to his inspiration.”

A Baton Rouge, La., native, Hollins was the ACC’s recipient of the Brian Piccolo, annually given to the league’s most courageous football player. He is also a semifinalist the Comeback Player of the Year award and the 2023 Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year. Hollins was an academic All-ACC honoree and an ACC Honor Roll member in 2022.

The Courage Award was first presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) in 2002. A select group of writers from the FWAA vote on the winner each year. The requirements for nomination include displaying courage on or off the field, including overcoming an injury or physical handicap, preventing a disaster or living through hardship. The winner of the award will be included in festivities during Capital One Orange Bowl week and receive his trophy at an on-field presentation.

Previous winners of the Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award are Oregon tight end Cam McCormick (2022), the University of Utah football Team (2021), Arkansas State analyst Alex Charlton (2020), Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson (2019), SUNY Cortland linebacker Kyle Richard (2018), Wisconsin safety D’Cota Dixon (2017), Pitt running back James Conner (2016), Miami offensive lineman Hunter Knighton (2015), Duke offensive lineman Laken Tomlinson (2014), San Jose State defensive lineman Anthony Larceval (2013), Clemson wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez (2012), Michigan State offensive lineman Arthur Ray Jr. (2011), Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand (2010), the University of Connecticut football team (2009), Tulsa’s Wilson Holloway (2008), Navy’s Zerbin Singleton (2007), Clemson’s Ray Ray McElrathbey (2006), the Tulane football team (2005), Memphis’ Haracio Colen (2004), San Jose State’s Neil Parry (2003) and Toledo’s William Bratton (2002).008), Navy’s Zerbin Singleton (2007), Clemson’s Ray Ray McElrathbey (2006), the Tulane football team (2005), Memphis’ Haracio Colen (2004), San Jose State’s Neil Parry (2003) and Toledo’s William Bratton (2002).