OMAHA — Six semifinalists for the 2015 Outland Trophy — five offensive linemen and one defensive tackle — were announced on Thursday night during a reception hosted by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee.
The Football Writers Association of America, in a call of its 2015 All-America Committee, has determined the following six players as semifinalists for the award, in alphabetical order: Baylor offensive tackle Spencer Drango, Stanford offensive guard Joshua Garnett, Alabama center Ryan Kelly, Alabama defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, Indiana offensive tackle Jason Spriggs and Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley.
The field for the Outland Trophy, which is awarded to the best interior lineman in college football on offense or defense, will be reduced to three players early next week. Those finalists will be announced the evening of Nov. 24 on ESPNU at 5 p.m. ET during The Home Depot College Football Awards Nomination Special. The winner of the 70th Outland Trophy will be revealed on Dec. 10 from 7-9 p.m. ET on ESPN on The Home Depot College Football Awards, for the first time live from the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.
Here is a look at the semifinalists:
Spencer Drango, OT, Baylor (6-6, 320, Sr., Cedar Park, Texas): An Outland Trophy semifinalist in 2014, Drango has 44 career starts for the powerful Bears offense. He is also a William V. Campbell Trophy finalist (top academic player). The veteran Baylor offensive lineman has allowed just 11 sacks in nine games. He is in his fourth season as a starting left tackle for an offense that is currently on pace to break FBS records for scoring in a season and total yards gained per game. The Baylor offense is No. 1 in scoring and fifth in rushing this season in the FBS and Drango is the unquestioned leader on the line.
Joshua Garnett, OG, Stanford (6-5, 321, Sr., Puyallup, Wash.): A veteran guard who has been a dominant run blocker for the Cardinal, which has scored 30 points in each of its past nine games. He has started 25 straight games for Stanford, which has rushed for at least 100 yards in 44 of its last 47 games. A team captain, Garnett is a great finisher of blocks and through eight games had 64 “pancakes.” He has helped Stanford win the time of possession battle in 15 of the last 16 games with consistent line play. Stanford is 16th in the FBS in rushing offense and 22nd in scoring.
Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama (6-5, 297, Sr., West Chester, Ohio): A William V. Campbell Trophy (top academic player) semifinalist, Kelly is the leader of Alabama’s offensive line, which paves the way for Heisman Trophy candidate running back Derrick Henry. Kelly, a third-year starter at center and captain, was named the Southeastern Conference Offensive Lineman of the Week after Alabama’s 30-16 victory over LSU in which the Tide gained 250 yards rushing. In that game, Kelly graded out at 92 percent. He also was one of the Alabama coaches’ offensive players of the game against Wisconsin, Georgia, Tennessee and LSU.
A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama (6-4, 312, Jr., Fort Worth, Texas): A talented defender on the Crimson Tide’s line who has been one of the Alabama coaches’ defensive players of the game five times this season. He set the tone in the Crimson Tide’s 31-6 victory at Mississippi State last week with 2.5 sacks. He leads the team with eight quarterback hurries and has made a career-high 34 tackles this season, including seven tackles for 23 yards in losses. In addition, he has broken up two passes, recovered a fumble and blocked a kick.
Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana (6-7, 305, Sr., Elkhart, Ind.): In his senior season for the Hoosiers, he has allowed just two sacks in 365 called pass plays. He has started in 44 of 45 career games and has 56 pancakes in 805 snaps this season. The Hoosiers lead the Big Ten in total offense, are second in passing offense, third in rushing offense and fourth in scoring offense.
Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame (6-5, 315, Sr., Las Vegas, Nev.): Considered a top NFL prospect for a team that is 23rd in the nation in rushing offense and 30th in scoring. Stanley has started every game this season at left tackle and has started 36 straight games overall for the Fighting Irish, whose only loss this season came at now top-ranked Clemson, 24-22.
The Outland Trophy, which has been awarded annually by the FWAA since 1946, is named after the late John Outland, an All-America lineman at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1900s. The Outland Trophy is the third-oldest award in major college football behind the Heisman Trophy and Maxwell Award.
For the 19th consecutive year, the presentation banquet of the Outland Trophy will occur in Omaha. The official 2015 Outland Trophy presentation to the winner will be on Jan. 14, 2016, at a banquet sponsored by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee. At the same banquet, former Maryland defensive lineman Randy White will receive an Outland Trophy. He was the 1974 winner of the award, before trophies were handed out by the FWAA. The former Dallas Cowboys star is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
The Outland Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA). The NCFAA encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. The 22 awards boast more than 700 years of tradition-selection excellence. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about our story.
Celebrating its 75th season, the Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization, consists of more than 1,400 men and women who cover college football. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game-day operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at email@example.com or 214-870-6516.
The Greater Omaha Sports Committee, founded in 1977, is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, consisting of more than 900 men and women from the City of Omaha, the State of Nebraska, and others. The membership serves to communicate, develop, initiate and promote sports activities in the Greater Omaha sports area. In addition to the Outland Trophy Award Dinner, the Greater Omaha Sports Committee promotes high school, college, and professional sports in the Greater Omaha area and the Midwest.
2015 FWAA ALL-AMERICA COMMITTEE
Lee Barfknecht, Omaha World-Herald
Zach Barnett, Football Scoop
Kirk Bohls, Austin American-Statesman
Aaron Brenner, Charleston Post & Courier
Chadd Cripe, Idaho Statesman
Lee Feinswog, Sports225
Tommy Hicks, Freelance
Joey Johnston, Tampa Tribune
Marc Morehouse, Cedar Rapids Gazette
John Shinn, Norman Transcript
Phil Steele, Phil Steele Publications
Ryan Thorburn, Eugene Register-Guard
John Wagner, Toledo Blade