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AutoNation Cure Bowl Awards Bryan Williams, Tyler Witt and Jamie Seh as Community Service Soldiers

December 15, 2017 | Orlando Sports Foundation, Inc

AutoNation Cure Bowl Awards Bryan Williams, Tyler Witt and Jamie Seh as Community Service Soldiers

ORLANDO, Fla. ( – As a part of the AutoNation Cure Bowl benefitting BCRF, executive director Alan Gooch awarded Georgia State safety Bryan Williams, Western Kentucky offensive lineman Witt and WKMG’s Jamie Seh with Community Service Soldier Medallions. The trio of soldiers were recognized on Tuesday at the AutoNation Cure Bowl Press Conference at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort Convention Center.


The recipients of the medals led their squads through their activities in the community. These individuals’ values stand in line with the AutoNation Cure Bowl’s cause – bringing teams together to find a cure for cancer.


Williams, a sixth-year senior, has been a mainstay as a Panthers’ defensive back. The Miami, Fla., native has totaled 57 tackles and intercepted a team-high four passes this season.


Witt has made an impact with the Hilltoppers as the year progressed. The first-year offensive lineman has started the last five games at right guard. The Joliet, Ill., native was also named to the Conference USA All-Academic Team.


Seh, the lead sports anchor at WKMG, has volunteered her time with the Cure Bowl, since it was founded in 2008. She has been an advocate for the bowl’s cause throughout the Orlando community and serves as the sideline reporter for the national radio broadcast.


The third-annual AutoNation Cure Bowl presented by Florida Hospital kicks off on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. Locally, fans can listen to the national radio broadcast on iHeart Media’s Real Radio 104.1 FM.


Western Kentucky Players: LB Joel Iyigbuniwe, OL Tyler Witt, and QB Mike White:


On the team’s excitement level in Orlando:

White: “It’s nice when you leave Bowling Green, get on a plane and it’s 22 degrees, then you step off and it’s immediately in the 60’s. It kind of gives us a little extra juice. Whenever you come and see palm trees, it kind of feels like a vacation. It’s nice and I think that added a little extra juice to the team and I think we’re ready. It’s a privilege to play in any postseason game, and the fact that we get to play in such a beautiful city like Orlando it just really excites us.”


On growing up in Bowling Green, Ky,. and seeing the growth of WKU’s program:

Iyigbuniwe: “It’s pretty awesome. Growing up in Bowling Green and coming to the games, seeing the team and then seeing where we are right now is pretty cool. It’s honestly a blessing that we’ve been able to do what we’ve done and I’m glad to be a part of that.”


On being back in Florida, where he won a state championship:

White: “It’s really cool. The stadium itself I remember back when we played in it, when I was a senior. It was very nice and then it got those renovations and it got even nicer, so I’m excited to play in there. It has kind of come full circle; I played my last high school game there and I’ll play my last college game [there]. Hopefully it ends the same way, with the win.”


On winning their fourth straight game and ending the season on a high note:

Witt: “I think it’s very important. We didn’t think that we did too well at FIU. We went back and looked at the tape, looked around at each other and knew that we had a lot more in us. It was a blessing for us to get the opportunity to come down here and compete for our fourth straight bowl win. With that in mind, we’re ready to go and we’re ready to get this win.”


On if this bowl win would give them momentum headed into the offseason:

Iyigbuniwe: “Absolutely. This is a big game for us. To go out and get this win would be a great momentum shift for us leading into next year and obviously to finish out this year; that would be great, so we’re looking to get that win.”


On how cancer has touched them personally:

Witt: “One of my close family friends had breast cancer. She was one of my teachers in elementary school, so it kind of hit us a little bit hard. We know how it impacts a whole family and really in all aspects of life. To be able to come out here and raise all this money and just raise awareness in general for finding a cure is really important.”


White: “The awareness that this bowl creates is really cool. Anytime you can add something like that to a bowl game in itself is pretty neat. Fortunately, I’ve never been affected directly by cancer, but when you hear the stories of those survivors and those going through it, you kind of feel for a minute and it kind of inspires you. It puts things into perspective. There’s a lot more people going through a lot harder things then what we’re going through. A couple of sprints or hard workouts are really nothing in the grand scheme of things, so I think it’s pretty cool to hear everyone’s story and kind of put things into perspective in your life.”


Iggy: “I haven’t personally been affected by it, but when I learned that we’re going to get to participate in this bowl I was ecstatic. The previous bowls we’ve been in have been nice but this bowl is special with what it’s doing. As soon as I heard that we’re going to be able to do that, I was pretty excited and I know these guys were as well. It’s going to be a good time.”


On the difference in the team now from four weeks ago at FIU:

Witt: “I feel like we’re a lot more comfortable with our scheme. We went back and looked at our tape and just being able to identify where we need to go and how fast we need to do it are things we really honed in on these past couple of weeks. I think that our whole offensive line is a lot more comfortable with that and I feel like we’re going to have a lot more success in the run game because of that.”


On the steps taken this season that boost confidence:

Witt: “Well, I think for starters. The guy that plays next to me, Cole Spencer, has taken a lot of big steps in his development as a player. Starting at Vanderbilt [the first game, it] was a pretty big leap for him being a true freshman. But every week he’s improved, and a lot of our other true freshman that have been playing have prepared very well and go very hard in practice. That just shows that they’re all ready to go. I feel like going forward we’re going to have a lot more success.”


On if a 6-6 season will fuel them in the future:

Witt: “Definitely. The older guys have done a really good job taking us in the right direction. With leaders like Mike leaving the program, there’s going to need to be more guys that step up and take that next step with Coach Sanford and the way he runs our team”


On the journey from USF to WKU:

White: “It’s definitely been a unique one and I think a road less traveled, but I’m thankful for every obstacle I’ve gone through. If I did it all over again, I’d do the same thing. I think I made the right decisions at the time, but I’m glad I ended up here. It took me a while to get here, but I feel like I got here at the right time. I think I met a bunch of incredible people along the way and I’m really thankful for everyone I’ve met.”


On preparing with a shorter time span than usual for a bowl game:

White: “Like you said. it’s challenging and it’s different than any other bowl game. I think it falls back on the senior leaders. It’s our job as leaders and guys who have been through bowl games before, to take the younger guys under our wings and show them how to prepare for a bowl game. There’s a lot of maturity that goes into it. It’s a lot of fun don’t get me wrong, once we are done here we’re all going to head to the park, but you got to remember why you came here and that’s to win a bowl game and to raise a trophy. I think we did a good job as leaders and seniors and captains like Iggy. I think we did a good job of getting our guys ready and reminding them why we really are here.”


On meeting Deandre Jordan last night:

Iyigbuniwe: “It was pretty special. He made me look like a child if you’ve seen the picture. That was awesome. Pretty special night.”


On how much the team is enjoying Orlando and the bowl game atmosphere:

Iyigbuniwe: “I love it. It’s another great bowl for us. Great events. There’s a lot to do. Like I said earlier it’s been a blessing. Getting to play in the warm weather for four years, so it’s been a great time.”


On embracing the fact that the Cure Bowl will be his final college game:

White: “I’m embracing every single second of it. Whether it’s waking up early with my guys or walking to the elevator when everybody’s tired and I’m kind of messing with everybody trying to wake everybody up. Just trying to get the most I can out of my guys, just because I know come Saturday about seven o’clock I won’t be able to suit up with some of these guys anymore. Hopefully, maybe down the road something could work out and that would be pretty cool, but just every little moment like that I cherish. After that FIU game, it was kind of up in the air and we didn’t know if we were going to get here. I told myself after that game on that on that long flight home that if we get one more that I’m going to make the most out of it and I think we’ve done that as a team.”


On Mike leaving his imprint on the team:

Iyigbuniwe: “He’s always set the bar. Obviously last year he came in and set the bar and then this year he’s followed up with another great year. So, there’s not really much I can say. He’s done a great job in this team and it’s been it’s been a pleasure to play with him.”


Western Kentucky Head Coach: Mike Sanford Jr.


On what he expects from Georgia State:

“You just have to put on the film and see how motivated a team they are in general. They play with a lot of excitement. They play with a lot of passion. You guys will see on third down, it’ll be a conglomeration of roughly eight to thirty-five members of their sideline jumping up and down around the signal caller on third down. We love that challenge. We love playing that kind of football. Our team brings a lot of passion the way we play. We expect nothing less from Georgia State to have a fully motivated football team. The key to this game really, what I’ve been challenging our team is, we have to play harder. We have to play the hardest we’ve played all year and our effort has to surpass that of our opponents.”


On how he’s seen the program grow in the past few years:

“Incredible. Incredible. Just the feats, playing five out of six years in a bowl game, and really should have been in six out of six bowl games with an eight and four season, which didn’t result in a bowl game. That’s incredible to see, but it doesn’t surprise me one bit. I saw firsthand in two or recruiting classes what building a program is going to look like, and you recruit to build a program. That’s exactly what Coach [Willie] Taggart and our staff did in 2009, well 2010, leading into that class and then in the 2011 recruiting class, you see that there’s players in the NFL across the board. They were from those early classes. So, it doesn’t surprise me one bit. You build a program through recruiting, culture, and with great schemes on offense and defense and that’s all been evident here from Coach Taggart to Coach [Bobby] Petrino and to Coach [Jeff] Brohm and we look to push that further going forward.”


On building the difficulties of building the program through scheduling and non-respect to the Group of Five:

“I think in the landscape, now, you’re seeing so much parity because of how recruiting is. You have so many more players that are readily available to recruit from the Power-5 level all the way down to the group of five and FCS level. You see so much more film footage with the Hudl online recruiting availability. I don’t see as much of a significant drop off in those types of match-ups that shows you probably had 10 to 15 years ago.


“We love playing match-ups. We love those opportunities. In fact, we get some pretty significant ones next year opening the season with a road trip up to Madison, Wisconsin and then another game against Louisville. We love the challenge to play in those types of games and honestly you always want to build your brand through finding a way to win one of those significant games and I think that’s really significant for us and our program.


“That’s for this year for us and to others. Well I think that, I do think is the Conference USA, in itself, has been shown the respect it deserves in  this particular calendar year. You have 10 out of 14 teams bowl eligible and with really only six true bowl tie-ins, to have nine bowl eligible teams, excuse me 10 bowl eligible teams and nine of which were actually rewarded with a bowl game, which is the most in college football, tied with the ACC. But we had one more bowl eligible team and I think the respect is starting to come to this conference.”


Georgia State Players: LB Trey Payne, S Bryan Williams, QB Connor Manning


On how excited they are to be in Orlando for Bowl week:

Williams: “Very excited, Orlando is a great place. It’s known for tourism, but for us to come down here and be a part of this bowl game, a bowl game that actually means a lot to people and for us to represent our school and this program in this bowl game means a lot.”


Payne: “Orlando, it’s a great location; it has wonderful weather to start off, especially coming out of the cold. You’re playing for a great cause, cure for cancer and things of that nature.”


Manning: “We’re truly honored as a program to be here and represent something that’s kind of bigger than football. Just being in Orlando is obviously a tremendous opportunity to be out here and enjoy a little bit of the sun.”


On what it would mean to win this bowl game the second time around:

Payne: It definitely sets a standard, winning the first one is always the toughest, because you’ll start the ball and get things rolling. Coach Elliot is doing a great job of getting us prepared but it’ll definitely set a standard by winning this bowl game.”


Manning: “I think one of the biggest things about bowl games is they truly carry on to the following year. To be able to go out there Saturday and compete, if we get that victory, we could help build this program for next year.”


On seeing the rise of their program:

Payne: “Well, I’ve been here five years. My man next to me [Williams] has been here six. I’ve definitely seen the highs and lows with the two coaching staffs, who both have been great. To be a part of actually building something, years from now when I’m old and I look like one of my coaches, I’ll look back on it and really appreciate it, because it’ll be something special and be a place that I can always come back to and call home.”


On Coach Elliot’s coaching style and the culture, he is building at GSU:

Williams: “Coach Elliot is building a great culture here. His coaching style – it’s a little tough, but you know to build anything you have to break it down. Like lifting weights for example, for you to build muscle, you have to break it down to build it back up. For Coach Elliot to come here and break our team down and build it back to be at the point we’re at now, we give all credit to him and his staff. We had to basically buy into the system and his system as a team, we did that so far and we just have to continue to this bowl game.”


Manning: “Our first team meeting, just as players, a lot of the guys were kind of talking to the team and one of my messages was – whatever they’re selling we have to buy it no matter what, because if we truly want this program to grow; we’ve got to listen to these coaches. What Coach Elliot brings every day is energy and enthusiasm. I mean we have practice early, early mornings and he’s always out there yelling getting us fired up and it’s contagious.”


On having their own stadium as opposed to playing in the Georgia Dome:

Payne: “We go over there for study hall, It’s ours. The administration’s there, it’s a place that’s really become a home. I guess in the next few years here you’ll see phases just come apart and it will play a major part in recruiting. It’s a beautiful location, has a beautiful overlook of the city, and it’s a place that you’re home. It’s not where the Falcons play here on Sunday, we play there on Saturday and there’s a bowl game here…things of that nature. Georgia State it’s their home and this is ours.


On how much a benefit is it being here for a second time and knowing what to expect:

Payne: “I always tell my guys, Monday through Thursday gets you so far so being at a bowl game beforehand only gets you so far. The things that we do during the week and the practices that we have and have had since Sunday, will help us on Saturday. So, you got to show up and play those 60 minutes and that’ll take care of it.”


Manning: “This is my first time experiencing the Cure Bowl here in Orlando, but being in different bowl games, I think the biggest key is to really understand what you’re going down here for. We’re trying to have fun with our off time, but we’re here to represent our university with product on the football field.”


Williams: “Yeah, it’s a balance. You have to have your fun, but you also know that this is a business trip. We came down here with one purpose in mind, to get this victory and bring it back to Atlanta.”


Georgia State Head Coach: Shawn Elliot

On playing in the Cure Bowl:

“First of all, I just want to say it’s a pleasure to be here in Orlando at the AutoNation Cure Bowl. Georgia State University, our football program, just everything about it is first class. It’s truly an amazing honor to be here and have the opportunity to come down and experience all the great things and what a great cause. This bowl game, it’s not just another name. This has a special meaning, and there’s something that we are working towards that’s bigger than the game of football. We certainly do appreciate that and I hope that everyone would understand what it’s really about, I mean this is to cure cancer. However it may be, whether it’s a donation, coming to the game, being a part of something that’s bigger than the game of football.”


On being a younger program and your future goals for Georgia State:

“We’re very young, if you look at a lot of the programs that have made the transition [to the FBS] – the success, two bowl games in four years of existence at this level is unheard of. If we are able to go out and put together a great game plan and execute well, it would mean the world to our football program, it would set the stage for future endeavors like bigger bowl games, conference championships. For our players, every single day is about setting standards and doing things you’ll remember for the rest of your life, and for Georgia State University to take the field and pull out a win would be an amazing accomplishment for us.”


On what makes Penny Hart special:

“He’s got a passion for the sport. He has a passion to be very good. He works out constantly, loves the game of football, loves to compete and separates himself just by his attitude every day. That’s something you don’t see a whole lot of in our culture these days. People finding something and putting lots of energy and effort into making themselves really good. He does that in every aspect of his life. He lives in the weight room off the field and when he’s on the practice field he comes to work with a great passion and energy to be successful.”


On player commitment to the program:

“I didn’t come in and try to sell these guys anything. I didn’t come here and say ‘hey, you have to buy into this’, so there was no sales job. We put a plan in place and told them this is how it was going to be done and you can fall in line and follow along or we’ll move on without you.


“It wasn’t about buying in to anything. What they really did a good job on…I thought they learned to fight. At times [as a football coach], you go back and look at games where they were probably in a lot more games than you thought of in the past and they couldn’t finish. When evaluating our players, I wanted these guys to learn how to fight, learn how to compete for 60 minutes, to not give in, not drag their heads, to really stay focused and understand how to really pull out victories. I think there’s so much average in this world today, but if you know how to fight for something and you have the passion and energy to go out and fight for something, you can do a lot of great things, and that’s what they’ve learned to do.”


On thought about how his players feel about getting another shot at winning the bowl:

Two years ago, I had no idea what their mind set was, but I believe they were just happy to be here and I think they were thinking ‘hey we made a bowl game, this is amazing’, but we’re here to win the bowl game. It wasn’t about making the bowl game, it’s about coming here and winning the bowl game. I think that’s the biggest difference between two years ago and now.”


On lack of respect from Power 5 conferences towards non-power 5 conferences:

“You have to go out and put a good, quality product out on the field. I think if we get more Group-of-five teams that are doing that and we’re being more competitive and knocking off the big boys, then you’ll gain a lot more respect from the polls. One team, doesn’t do it for you, two teams won’t do it either. It has to be a collective effort from a lot of our teams to go out against these big guys and knock them off. I don’t concern myself with it a lot. We go play the schedule we are given and we try to do the very best that we can do.”


On impression of WKU:

“I know the coaching staff. I’m pretty close to a couple of those guys on the staff. I know they’re going to be well coached. They’ve got great athleticism across the board. We’re going to have to go out and really counteract their wide receiver, their quarterback play and their secondary. Those guys all have speed and skill and can run, those are the things that really impress me.”


On Steve Spurrier Jr’s impact on the offense:

“When you’ve coached this long you face a friend about every other week. I’ve had the opportunity to coach against my old roommate [HC at Appalachia state], but we’re fighting against one another on Saturdays. When I get up on Saturdays, I don’t think a whole lot about friendships. It’s just not what I do. I think it’s fun during the week, but on Saturdays, we are going to go out there and try to beat each other.”


On differences between being an assistant coach and head coach during a bowl game:

“It makes no difference. If I’m head coach or assistant coach, it doesn’t matter if I’m coaching this team or at a bowl game, it’s about taking it in and understanding what’s really important. One of the things I learned from coach Spurrier is that these are rewarding times. We need to let go and enjoy ourselves and when we practice, we practice hard. When we meet, we meet to gain knowledge, and when we have free time, we go out and enjoy ourselves. I did it as an assistant and I’m certainly going to do it as a head coach.”

Media Contacts

Full Transcript of the AutoNation Cure Bowl Press Conference is below.

 Georgia State video to download:

Coach Elliott:



Western Kentucky video to download:

Coach Sanford: