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Florida State senior running back Chris Thompson and Miami defensive end Shayon Green, who both overcame severe injuries to become major contributors to their teams this year, have been named co-winners of the ACC's 2012 Brian Piccolo Award.
The Piccolo Award has been given annually since 1972 in memory of the late Brian Piccolo to the "most courageous" football player in the ACC. Piccolo was the ACC Athlete of the Year in 1965 and played for the Chicago Bears before his career was cut short when he was stricken with cancer.
Thompson suffered a fractured back against Wake Forest in the Seminoles' fourth game of the season in 2011, suffering compression fractures to his 5th and 6th thoracic vertebrae. The injury required Thompson to be in a spine immobilizing brace for three months.
After extensive rehabilitation, he came back to be Florida State's leading rusher with 687 yards on 91 carries, a sparkling 7.5 yards-per-carry average, including touchdown runs of 74 and 80 yards. Unfortunately, Thompson suffered a season-ending knee injury in Florida State's 8th game of the year against Miami.
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At the time of his injury he was the 2nd-leading rusher in the ACC and still ranks 3rd. He topped the 100-yard mark in rushing three times in eight games including an 197-yard day against Wake Forest and added 21 receptions for 248 yards. Despite missing the final three games of the season, he was voted second-team All-ACC.
Green had to overcome four different major injuries. He twice tore the ACL in his right knee, once tore the meniscus in his right knee and also suffered a wrist dislocation forcing him to miss all or a major part of the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons.
Finally healthy, Green was the leading tackler and one of the key leaders to a young Miami defense, with 38 of his 67 tackles unassisted, 2.0 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery. He is the first Miami defensive linemen to lead the Hurricanes in tackles for a season in more than 30 years.