Feliz, Brown, Edwards win Illini Oskee Spirit Awards

Sports

CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Dre Brown, Andres Feliz and Taylor Edwards are the 2020 Illinois Athletics Oskee Spirit award winners. Brown and Feliz will share the male award, with Edwards taking the female award, who best exemplify the spirit, courage, effort and dedication of the Fighting Illini. Edwards was voted the female Spirit Award winner by DIA head coaches and a panel of administrators, while Brown and Feliz tied in the male vote, resulting in co-winners.

The Fighting Illini Spirit Awards are usually handed at the annual Oskee Awards, however due to the COVID-19 pandemic that ended the 2019-20 athletic seasons early, this year’s event was canceled.

TAYLOR EDWARDS | Women’s Basketball

Edwards is a two-time winner of the Fighting Illini Spirit Award, also taking the honor in 2018 as a member of the softball team. Edwards spent four seasons as standout pitcher for Illini softball before using her fifth-and-final year of college eligibility in 2019-20 to play for the Fighting Illini women’s basketball program. 

“Taylor came into a team that needed a strong voice,” women’s basketball coach Nancy Fahey said of Edwards. “Her natural leadership and determination was contagious. She never wavered during a tough season. You can tell the size of an Illini heart when the going gets tough. That is Taylor Edwards.

“She sees the big picture of what the SPIRIT of a Fighting Illini is, giving back and paying it forward. Always volunteering to community events and speaking engagements, she became the face of our program in our community. She epitomizes the Spirit of a Fighting Illini; incredible character, work ethic and integrity.”

Edwards is the third women’s basketball player to win the Spirit Award since it was first awarded in 1990. She joins Kate Riley (1992) and Tonya Booker (1993). 

ANDRES FELIZ | Men’s Basketball

Feliz played a huge role for the Fighting Illini the past two seasons after transferring in from junior college. He averaged 11.0 points per game as a senior, helping lead the Illini to a No. 21 final national ranking before the season was cut short prematurely. 

Andres Feliz was the heart and soul of our team and someone who embodies every positive trait we want the players in our program to have,” men’s basketball head coach Brad Underwood said of Feliz. “When you look at Dre’s journey, he has had to fight for everything he’s achieved. Nothing was given to him.

“Some call Dre a ‘glue guy’, I call him the ultimate teammate. He is a player whose fierce nature and drive gives confidence to others and allows them to raise their level of competition. He helped lead us to a top-25 finish while earning a sociology degree with Academic All-Big Ten distinction, becoming the first in his family to graduate from college.” 

Feliz is the fifth men’s basketball player to win the Spirit Award since it was first awarded in 1990. He joins Andy Kpedi (1991), Jerrance Howard (2003), Chester Frazier (2009) and Tracy Abrams (2017). 

DRE BROWN | Football

Brown battled back from a plethora of devastating injuries that derailed the start of his Illini career by two-and-a-half years to earn the team’s Offensive MVP award and receive the Bruce Capel Award (for courage, dedication and accomplishment) at the end of his fifth season in orange and blue. 

Dre Brown has exemplified what a Fighting Illini Student-Athlete should be on and off the field over the past five seasons,” football coach Lovie Smith said of Brown. “Dre was able to work in extra time for the community while maintaining his status as a leader in the locker room and on the field. Dre’s leadership was omnipresent this fall as he was an integral part of getting the Fighting Illini back to postseason play for the first time in five years.”

Brown is the 10th football player to win the Spirit Award since it was first awarded in 1990. He joins Darrick Brownlow (1990), Mike Hopkins (1992), Scott Turner (1993), J Leman (2008), Juice Williams (2010), Nathan Scheelhaase (2012), Corey Lewis (2013), Reilly O’Toole (2015) and Joe Spencer (2016). 

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