Honoring H.S. athletes who inspire greatness on and off the field.

Landon Collins - New York Giants
Safety, #21


Shadon Willis, Hillside High School, Hillside, NJ
2018 Heart of the Giant Winner
Heart of a Giant | Jason Pierre-Paul, Heart of a Giant Ambassador

“A team has to persevere through challenges, and that’s what we did as a family. We overcame.”

- Landon Collins, Heart of a Giant Ambassador



USA Football’s Heart of a Giant award program, presented by Hospital for Special Surgery and the New York Giants, aims to recognize Tri-State area high school football players who demonstrate unparalleled work ethic and a passion for the game.

Having a Heart of a Giant means possessing characteristics like...

Unshakable work ethic in training and preparation. Exhibits a “first in, last out” mentality.

Leads by example and motivates teammates to be the best they can be.

Inspires and aligns others to work together to achieve a common goal.

Finds a way to persevere when faced with obstacles and adversity.

Demonstrates the desire and drive to succeed both on the field, in the classroom and within their community.


Tri-state area high school coaches can nominate one player from their team that best embodies what it means to have the “Heart of a Giant”.

USA Football will review all nominations and announce ten deserving nominees per week over the course of six weeks on usafootball.com/heartofagiant.

Nominees are urged to “campaign for their votes” within their communities and to teammates, classmates, friends, and family. Votes can be cast at usafootball.com/heartofagiant.

All voting will remain open for each week’s group for 25 days and the nominee with the most votes from each week’s group will be named one of six finalists.

All six finalists will be required to submit an original video showcasing why they have the Heart of a Giant.

USA Football, Hospital for Special Surgery and the New York Giants will review all finalist video submissions and identify one grand prize winner.

High school coaches from NY, NJ and CT can nominate athletes for a chance to win a $5,000 equipment grant for their program and to honor a special student-athlete.

Six Finalists Receive:

  • $1,500 equipment grant for their high school football programs
  • USA Football Heart of a Giant presented by Hospital for Special Surgery and New York Giants gift bag

Grand Prize Winner Receives:

  • Heart of a Giant presented by Hospital for Special Surgery and New York Giants trophy
  • $5,000 equipment grant for their high school football program
  • On-field award ceremony during a New York Giants’ home game in December


When Hurricane Katrina caused devastating damage to New Orleans, Landon Collins was just 10 years old. Landon was forced to leave New Orleans and move into his grandfather’s three-bedroom home in Northern Mississippi with 20 others. His father’s home in New Orleans had been split in half and destroyed by the storm. Almost all of Landon’s friends and teammates had been displaced by the storm, most of whom never came back to New Orleans. Landon never faltered as he overcame adversity on his way to becoming a high school All-American, college All-American at Alabama, and NFL All-Pro for the New York Giants. His perseverance led to a natural partnership to support the USA Football Heart of a Giant Award presented by Hospital for Special Surgery and the New York Giants. As the #1 hospital for orthopedics in the nation, HSS is known for treating professional athletes, but the hospital is also committed to the safety of youth and high school athletes. Together, HSS, Landon Collins, the New York Giants and USA Football are recognizing young athletes who demonstrate unparalleled work ethic, perseverance in the face of adversity, leadership in the local community, and a determination to inspire their teammates.


About HSS | Hospital for Special Surgery

HSS is the world’s leading academic medical center focused on musculoskeletal health. At its core is Hospital for Special Surgery, nationally ranked No. 1 in orthopedics (for the ninth consecutive year) and No. 3 in rheumatology by U.S. News & World Report (2018 - 2019). Founded in 1863, the Hospital has one of the lowest infection rates in the country and was the first in New York State to receive Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Service from the American Nurses Credentialing Center four consecutive times. An affiliate of Weill Cornell Medical College, HSS has a main campus in New York City and facilities in New Jersey, Connecticut and in the Long Island and Westchester County regions of New York State. In 2017 HSS provided care to 135,000 patients and performed more than 32,000 surgical procedures. People from all 50 U.S. states and 80 countries travelled to receive care at HSS. Hospital for Special Surgery is located in New York City and online at www.hss.edu.


West Mendham High School
Mendham, NJ
Quinn was diagnosed with ALCL non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a blood cancer. Despite numerous trips to the hospital and chemotherapy treatments over the years, in addition to a bone marrow transplant and T-Cell infusions, Quinn continues to fight his disease head on. Despite what Sebastian has been through, he fights through it all to maintain his role as a key member of the Mendham football program.

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Mahopac High School
Mahopac, NY
Despite being born without his left hand, Charlie Burt, a senior at Mahopac High School in Westchester County, continues to defy the odds. A two-way starter and team captain, Burt has always dealt with his handicap head on, whether it be lifting weights with the use of an adaptive hook, or playing baseball and lacrosse in addition to his time on the gridiron, Charlie credits his determination and positive mindset when it comes to his relentless pursuit of his goals.

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Roosevelt High School
Roosevelt, NY
Ukwu, a senior at Roosevelt High School in Long Island, has been a standout athlete for the Roosevelt football program for the past four years, but it is his commitment to his community that makes him who he is. He volunteers to serve others, including offering assistance to elderly neighbors with house repairs following Hurricane Sandy and supporting children at the United Cerebral Palsy Center of Nassau County. Chukwuma puts the needs of others before his own. Following an outstanding senior season, he turned down the honor of playing in the Nassau County high school football all-star game on Thanksgiving to serve dinner to the needy at his local church.

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Pascack Hills High School
Montvale, NJ
On March 19, 2014, Anthony Cortazzo collapsed on the high school track after his heart had stopped. With the help of his athletic trainer, Cortazzo was revived by an automated external defibrillator (AED) and later diagnosed with anomalous aortic origin of the coronary artery. After the incident and hours of extensive open-heart surgery, Anthony was told he would more than likely never be able to return to the football field, a notion that did not sit well with Anthony. After months of rehabilitation and hard work, Cortazzo returned to the gridiron in October of the 2014 season to finish up his dream of playing football for Pascack Hills High School.

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Lincoln High School
Yonkers, NY
Minyard, a senior at Lincoln, has overcome challenges that many student-athletes will never face. Because of an illness at birth, Minyard is legally deaf in his right ear, requires highly specialized contact lenses to correct his vision and suffers from debilitating cognitive processing delays. Despite his disability, Minyard has excelled on and off the football field. He is co-captain of the Lincoln varsity football team, an honor roll student, Marine Corps JROTC staff sergeant, member of the school’s PTSA and volunteer assistant coach for a community youth football team.

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