Former Ohio State special teams standout Nate Ebner was named Thursday as the New England Patriots' 2018 recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award, which honors NFL players "who exemplify commitments to the principles of sportsmanship and courage."
For his demonstration of strength, sportsmanship & perseverance, @NateEbner has been named our 2018 Ed Block Courage Award recipient!
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) January 3, 2019
Ebner said Thursday that it was "extremely humbling" to win the award.
Nate Ebner on receiving the 2018 Ed Block Courage Award. Called it extremely humbling and credited the support hes received from teammates, coaches and staffers.
I have a lot of shoulders to lean on. pic.twitter.com/2Cho5grZDr
— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) January 3, 2019
A former walk-on for the Buckeyes, Ebner is now in his seventh season with the New England Patriots. After a torn ACL ended his 2017 season early, Ebner came back to lead the Patriots with 13 special teams tackles during the regular season this year.
Ebner's backstory is one that forced him to overcome tragedy – his father, Jeff, was murdered in 2008, while Ebner was a sophomore at Ohio State, and shortly before Ebner joined the Buckeyes as a walk-on. Ebner has persevered through his personal pain and long odds as a walk-on, though, to establish himself as an NFL role player. Ebner is also a world-class rugby player who was a member of the inaugural U.S. Olympic rugby sevens team in 2016.
Ebner is one of three former Ohio State players to receive the Ed Block Courage Award for their respective NFL teams this year. Ryan Shazier was the Steelers' recipient of the award in November, while Jeff Heuerman was named the Broncos' recipient last week.