It’s in the genes: Chloe Robinson kicks ’em through the uprights for Atlanta high school playoff team

If you catch 16-year-old Chloe Robinson just kickin’ it on a Friday night, chances are it’s through the uprights on a football field.

She is the placekicker for Benjamin E. Mays High School in Atlanta, which is in the quarterfinals of the Georgia 5A playoffs.

Chloe is a junior at Mays, and this is her football debut this season. She is the only girl listed on any high school football roster in Atlanta Public Schools.

Editor’s note: Chloe also is the great-granddaughter of the late Grambling coach Eddie Robinson, the namesake of  the Football Writers Association of America’s Coach of the Year Award. This year’s finalists for the award will be announced on the morning of Dec. 6 at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. The winner will be revealed on Dec.15 in Dallas, and the presentation of the Eddie Robinson Bust to the winning coach will occur on Jan. 7 in Tampa during a reception two days before the CFP National Championship Game.

CLICK HERE to read the entire story at theundefeated.com.

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Three finalists named for 2016 Outland Trophy

outland trophy bwDALLAS Three finalists for the 71st Outland Trophy, which is awarded to the best interior lineman in college football on offense or defense, were named on Monday by the Football Writers Association of America: Ohio State center Pat Elflein, Washington State offensive guard Cody O’Connell and Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson.

pat-elflein-crop

Pat Elflein

Elflein, 6-3, 300-pound senior. He has started all 11 games for the No. 2-ranked Buckeyes (10-1), who play Michigan on Saturday in a showdown of Big Ten East Division powers. He is the only senior on Ohio State’s offensive line. He has 40 career starts. Played guard (All-Big Ten first team twice as a sophomore and junior)) previous to this season, but moved to center in 2016 because he probably will play that position in the NFL. The fifth-year graduate student received his degree in communications last May. One of the top Ohio State players in the weight room as well as academically. Ohio State ranks fifth in scoring (43.8 ppg), eighth in rushing offense (263.1) ypg), 68th  in passing offense (230.0 ypg) and 21st in total offense (493.1 ypg).

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Cody O’Connell

O’Connell, 6-8, 351-pound junior guard. He helps trigger Washington State’s high-octane offense which ranks second in the country in passing behind quarterback Luke Falk. The Cougars are 8-3 overall and will meet Washington on Friday to determine the Pac-12 North Division champion. Through the first nine games, O’Connell had graded out at 92 percent, allowing zero sacks. Has 23 knockdowns through nine games in 364 pass plays. Came in second half and helped rally WSU to a 35-31 win at Oregon State after the Cougars were trailing 21-0 at halftime. Won three Bone Awards from staff.

Washington State is No. 2 in FBS in passing (380.05),  10th in scoring (42.5 ppg), 114th in rushing (132.5 ypg) and No. 10 in total offense (512.5 ypg.)

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Cam Robinson

Robinson, a 6-foot-6, 310-pound junior, is the top offensive tackle on the No. 1-ranked team in college football that produces 477.6 offensive yards a game. He has started every game at left tackle since he has been on campus (40 straight games). He has 23 knockdown blocks through 11 games of the season. He has been a five-time offensive player of the week by the Alabama coaching staff. Played great game in victory at LSU, with no sacks and no penalties. Similar game vs. Tennessee, in which he starred. He has blocked for 10 100-yard rushers this season. Alabama ranks 14th in the country in scoring (40.3 ppg), 13th in rushing  (249.8 ypg), 71stnd in passing (227.6 ypg) and 27thd in total offense (477.6 ypg).

The winner of the 2016 Outland Trophy will be announced Dec. 8 on The Home Depot College Football Awards on ESPN, the main show beginning at 7 p.m. (Eastern Time) from the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.

Alabama, Ohio State and Washington State all have had previous Outland Trophy winners. The Buckeyes lead the group with four previous winners: Jim Parker (1956), Jim Stillwagon (1970), John Hicks (1973) and Orlando Pace (1996). Alabama didn’t have a winner until 1999, but now has three previous winners: Chris Samuels (1999), Andre Smith (2008) and Barrett Jones (2011). Washington State’s lone previous winner is Rien Long (2002).

The Outland Trophy. which is named after the late John Outland, an All-America lineman at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1800s, is the third-oldest player award in major-college football behind the Heisman Trophy and Maxwell Award. It has been awarded to the best interior lineman in college football on offense or defense since 1946 when Notre Dame’s George Connor was named the recipient.

For the 20th consecutive year, the presentation of the Outland Trophy will occur in Omaha, on Jan. 11, 2017 at a banquet sponsored by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee. At the same banquet, Oklahoma offensive lineman Greg Roberts, will receive an Outland Trophy. Roberts was the 1978 winner of the award before trophies were handed out by the FWAA. His Oklahoma coach, the legendary Barry Switzer, will receive the third annual Tom Osborne Legacy Award during the evening.

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 about 700 years of tradition-selection excellence.

The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,300 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 tiger@fwaa.com or call 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.

Jason Kersey named Steve Ellis/FWAA Beat Writer of the Year

Jason Kersey

Jason Kersey

Former Oklahoman reporter Jason Kersey has been named the Steve Ellis/FWAA Beat Writer of the Year for the 2015 football season, when he was covering the Oklahoma Sooners for the newspaper.

Kersey, almost 30 and now a writer for SEC Country and covering the Arkansas Razorbacks, is the sixth annual winner of this award. He will be honored during the FWAA’s Annual Awards Breakfast on Jan. 9 in Tampa, Fla., at the media hotel for the CFP National Championship Game.

“I am genuinely stunned and overwhelmed,” Kersey said. “I want to thank the committee for this unbelievable honor. It means more to me than I can adequately express. I want to thank Ryan Aber (an FWAA member), who was my cohort on the OU beat. He was as perfect a beat partner as anyone working in this job could ever hope to have.

“Also, thanks to my dad for instilling in me a passionate love for sports. Thanks to my mom for how irrationally proud she is of any accomplishments, be it massive or minuscule. And a special thank you to my wife, Annie. This job can be tough on spouses, and Annie not only puts up with it but also encourages and supports me because she knows how much it means to me.”

For the first time, the FWAA Beat Writer of the Year Award will be known as the Steve Ellis/FWAA Beat Writer of the Year Award.  The late Ellis was a standout beat writer who covered Florida State football for the Tallahassee Democrat for a number of years.

Previous winners of this prestigious FWAA award: Doug Lesmerises (Cleveland Plain Dealer), Mark Blaudschun (Boston Globe), Steve Wieberg (USA Today), Jon Wilner (San Jose Mercury News), Tim May (Columbus Dispatch) and Chris Dufresne (Los Angeles Times).

“Jason was instrumental to The Oklahoman’s Sports section’s success in print and digitally,” said Mike Sherman, sports editor of the Tampa Bay Times and former sports editor of The Oklahoman. “He worked his way through various roles in our department, capitalizing on every opportunity to build skills, relationships and his capacity for great storytelling. His reporting broke news and ground.”

In his nomination folder, one fellow writer said: “Jason’s work during the 2015 season perfectly paralleled the play of the team he covered. Oklahoma was at the top of its game, and so was Jason. His versatility shines through on a daily basis, as he reports the good, the bad and the ugly.”

Kersey gave Sherman an assist for his award-winning coverage.

“Mike Sherman is the best sports editor in the country,” Kersey said. “He hired me as a part-timer when I was just an awkward, 19-year-old college sophomore. Throughout our almost decade-long working relationship, he always believed I could do better. I miss working for Mike Sherman every single day because he flat-out makes writers better.

“When I was little, I thought I would someday be a quarterback. I didn’t have the arm, so I tried wide receiver,” Kersey added. “And when I found my speed and athleticism lacking, I decided writing might be my ticket to a career involving football.”

KERSEY BIO

Jason Kersey joined The Oklahoman’s staff in November 2006 and worked as a part-time results clerk, a page designer/copy editor and a high school sports and recruiting reporter before spending four years on the OU football beat.

His work covering the Sooners twice resulted in national recognition as a top-10 beat writer from the Associated Press Sports Editors, as well as top-10 APSE honors for features, breaking news and multimedia. Jason has also won awards from the Tulsa Press Club and Society of Professional Journalists. During his time covering Oklahoma, Jason chronicled the Sooners’ monumental 2014 Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama, the rise of quarterback Baker Mayfield and OU’s run to the 2015 College Football Playoff.

His work at The Oklahoman also included extensive coverage of the racist fraternity video that shocked the entire country and spurred social change on OU’s campus; exclusive reporting on a Title IX sexual assault investigation involving a football player; and the Joe Mixon saga.

Jason left The Oklahoman in May 2016 to join Cox Media Group’s new venture, SEC Country, as its Arkansas beat writer. He is wrapping up his first season covering Bret Bielema and the Razorbacks.

A Noble, Okla., native, Jason graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2009. He lives in Fayetteville, Ark., with his wife Annie and dog Buster.

Five finalists for Bronko Nagurski Trophy named

2016 bronko sponsor logosDALLAS — Five Finalists have been chosen for the 2016 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which is awarded annually to the best defensive player in college football by the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club.

The finalists, in alphabetical order, are: Alabama end Jonathan Allen, Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster, Florida State cornerback Tarvarus McFadden, Michigan linebacker Jabrill Peppers and Clemson end Christian Wilkins.

Top-ranked and unbeaten Alabama has a Bronko Nagurski finalist for the sixth straight year and for the seventh time in eight years. Clemson has a finalist for the second straight year. Florida State’s last finalist was in 2013 and Michigan’s in 2006.

Clemson has had one previous winner, Da’Quan Bowers in 2010. And Michigan’s Charles Woodson was the 1997 winner during the same season in which he collected the Heisman Trophy. Both Alabama and Florida State will be seeking a winner for the first time this year.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner will be chosen from these five finalists, who are part of the 2016 FWAA All-America Team. The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the association’s entire membership, selected the Nagurski Trophy finalists and will choose the winner.

Jonathan Allen, Alabama

Jonathan Allen

Allen, a 6-foot-3, 291-pound senior, and Foster, a 6-foot-1, 228-pound senior, are two of the standouts on Alabama’s defense, which is one of the best in the country. The Crimson Tide ranks No. 1 in the FBS in rushing defense (68.8 yards allowed per game), and No. 2 in both scoring defense (12.2 points per game allowed) and in total defense (259.5 yards allowed per game).

Allen, who is tied for second place on the Crimson Tide’s career sack list with 25, has 7 ½ sacks for 55 yards in losses this season. He has 13 quarterback hurries, has broken up two passes, and blocked a kick. He has scored touchdowns on two fumble recoveries_ a 75-yard return against Mississippi and a 30-yard return against Texas A&M.

Reuben Foster, Alabama

Reuben Foster

Foster is Alabama’s leading tackler with 70 tackles (35 unassisted). Along with Alllen, he also has started all 10 games this season. Foster has seven tackles for 29 yards in losses, two of which are sacks. He has two passes broken up and four quarterback hurries.

Tavarus McFadden, Florida State

Tavarus McFadden

McFadden, a 6-foot-2, 198-pound sophomore cornerback, leads the country with seven interceptions. He is the first Seminole with seven interceptions since 1997 and is already tied for the fourth highest interception total by an FSU player in a single season. He also chips in 14 tackles (11 unassisted), three tackles for 12 yards in losses and four passes broken up for the Seminoles (7-3).

Michigan’s Peppers, a 6-foot-1, 208-pound junior linebacker who plays some defensive back, has played 13 different positions during the 2016 season.

Jabrill Peppers, Michigan

Jabrill Peppers, Michigan

But he is the star of the defense that ranks No. 1 in the country in scoring defense (allowing 11.0 ppg), in total defense (allowing 244.7 yards a game) and in passing defense (allowing 131.6 yards a game). Peppers is the season’s second-leading tackler on the team with 59 (14 of which have been for 63 yards in losses). He has a forced fumble and eight quarterback hurries for the once-beaten Wolverines.

Christian Wilkins, Clemson

Christian Wilkins

Wilkins, a 6-foot-4, 310-pound sophomore end, is one of the defensive stalwarts for the Tigers, who have lost only to Pittsburgh. He plays more end than tackle. Over the course of the season he has made 45 tackles (33 unassisted). He has a team-leading 11 tackles for 47 yards in losses, 3.5 of which are sacks. He has also recovered a fumble and blocked a kick for Clemson, which ranks 12th in FBS in scoring defense (18.4 points allowed a game.)

The annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Banquet, presented by ACN, will be held on Mon., Dec. 5 at the Charlotte Convention Center.

In addition to the 2016 Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner’s announcement, the banquet will also celebrate the recipient of the Bronko Nagurski Legends Award, sponsored by the CTC and Florida East Coast Railway. Navy’s Chet Moeller, a member of the FWAA’s 1975 All-America Team and a College Football Hall of Famer, will be honored. Duke head coach David Cutcliffe will be the keynote speaker at the banquet.

The FWAA has chosen a National Defensive Player of the Year since 1993. In 1995, the FWAA named the award in honor of the legendary two-way player from the University of Minnesota. Nagurski dominated college football then became a star for professional football’s Chicago Bears in the 1930s. Bronislaw “Bronko” Nagurski is a charter member of both the College Football and Pro Football Halls of Fame.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about our story

Five semifinalists for Outland Trophy named

outland trophy bwDALLAS  — Five semifinalists for the Outland Trophy were named on Wednesday night by the Football Writers Association of America and were featured during a reception in Omaha, Neb., where the trophy presentation banquet for the 71st Outland Trophy winner will be held in January.

The five semifinalists — all offensive linemen — in alphabetical order, are: Pat Elflein, Ohio State; Cody O’Connell, Washington State; Ethan Pocic, LSU;  Cam Robinson, Alabama, and Connor Williams, Texas.

Elflein is a 6-3, 300-pound senior, who previously played guard, but is a center this season for the nation’s second-ranked team. O’Connell is a behemoth 6-8, 351-pound junior guard who helps trigger Washington State’s high-octane offense which ranks second in the country in passing with quarterback Luke Falk. Pocic, a 6-7, 302-pound senior center, anchors the line for LSU’s potent rushing game, which is led by Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice. Robinson, a 6-foot-6, 310-pound junior, is the top offensive tackle on the No. 1-ranked team in college football that produces 492.2 offensive yards a game. Williams, a 6-6, 288-pound sophomore tackle at Texas, blocks for the leading rusher in the FBS in yards per game, D’Onta Foreman.

The five semifinalists will be whittled down to three finalists and announced on Tuesday during The Home Depot College Football Awards Nomination Special, starting at 3 p.m. (Eastern Time) on ESPNU. The winner of the 2016 Outland Trophy, will be announced Dec. 8 on The Home Depot College Football Awards on ESPN, the main show beginning at 7 p.m. (Eastern Time) from the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.

The Outland Trophy is named after the late John Outland, an All-America lineman at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1800s, is the third-oldest player award in major college football behind the Heisman Trophy and Maxwell Award. It has been awarded to the best interior lineman in college football on offense or defense since 1946 when Notre Dame’s George Connor was named the recipient.

For the 20th consecutive year, the presentation of the Outland Trophy will occur in Omaha, on Jan. 11, 2017 at a banquet sponsored by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee. At the same banquet, Oklahoma offensive lineman Greg Roberts, will receive an Outland Trophy. Roberts was the 1978 winner of the award before trophies were handed out by the FWAA. His Oklahoma coach, the legendary Barry Switzer, will receive the third annual Tom Osborne Legacy Award during the evening.

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 about 700 years of tradition-selection excellence.

The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,300 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 tiger@fwaa.com or call 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.

Kentucky Outland Trophy winner Bob Gain dies

Bob Gain, 1950 Outland Trophy winner.

Bob Gain, 1950 Outland Trophy winner.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Bob Gain, one of the greatest players in the history of University of Kentucky football, passed away Monday in Willoughby, Ohio, at the age of 87.

Gain was a stalwart offensive and defensive lineman at UK from 1947-50 under Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. Also a placekicker, he still holds the school record for most extra points in a game when he made 10-of-10 in a win over North Dakota in 1950. Coming to UK from Weirton, W.Va., Gain helped lead the Wildcats to a four-year record of 33-10-2 and was a member of the Cats’ first three bowl teams in school history.

Kentucky had an 8-3 record in 1947 and made its first postseason appearance with a victory over Villanova in the Great Lakes Bowl.  UK went 9-3 in the 1949 season and played in the Orange Bowl. The Wildcats were 11-1 in 1950, winning the Southeastern Conference championship. Gain capped his collegiate career with a 13-7 victory over Oklahoma in the 1951 Sugar Bowl, ending the Sooners’ 31-game winning streak. UK is recognized as the 1950 national champion by the Sagarin Computer Ratings.

In 1950, Gain became the first player in Southeastern Conference history to win the prestigious Outland Trophy as the nation’s best interior lineman.  He earned first-team All-America honors as a junior and senior. He was a three-year All-Southeastern Conference choice, first team as a junior and senior and second team as a sophomore.

Although a first-round selection of the National Football League’s Green Bay Packers (fifth pick overall), Gain played the 1951 season with the Ottawa Rough Riders in the Canadian Football League, winning the Grey Cup championship. He played for the NFL’s Cleveland Browns in 1952 before serving in Korea as a first lieutenant in the United States Air Force in 1953.

Gain returned to the Browns in 1954, where he played until 1964. He had a stellar career as a defensive lineman with the Browns.  He was named first-team All-Pro once, second-team All-Pro seven times, and played in the Pro Bowl five times. He continued to be part of champion teams, as the Browns won the NFL title in 1954, 1955 and in 1964.

Gain received numerous honors following his career.  He was named to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1980.  His UK jersey is retired and he is a member of the UK Athletics Hall of Fame. He was elected to the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, the Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame and the Kentucky chapter of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  He also was tabbed for the All-SEC Quarter-Century Team, covering the years 1950-74, by the Birmingham Quarterback Club.

Tony Neely

Asst. AD / Media Relations

University of Kentucky Athletics

Joe Craft Center

338 Lexington Avenue

Lexington, KY   40506

(859) 257-3838

FWAA member Bo Carter and co-authors have new book on Dizzy Dean

“Dizzy – Dean of Baseball & My Podnah” – Cool Cat Communications, October 2016 U.S. $24.95; Canada $27.95   

FWAA member Bo Carter and journalist Mark McDonald, a former Dallas area media member, have tri-authored a book with the late Gene Kirby (the play-by-play voice for Army football for several seasons) called “Dizzy: Dean of Baseball and My Podnah.”

Somewhere between heaven and second base, a tall skinny kid from the cotton fields of Arkansas —or was it Oklahoma?– emerged with a white-hot fastball and country cool. Meet Jay Hannah Dean. Folks called him “Dizzy.”

Dizzy Dean was a plain-spoken but colorful athlete who showed up on the big stage of professional baseball when the nation needed a light moment. Dizzy’s baseball and total persona were a high-wire act without a script, providing Americans relief from the struggles of everyday life during the Great Depression.

A Hall of Fame baseball career was just the start. Once Dizzy migrated to the broadcast booth he teamed with the likes of Pee Wee Reese and producer Gene Kirby to deliver the wildly popular CBS Game of the Week.

Here, at long last, is a book that takes you behind the scenes and behind the television cameras.

Of the many books written on Dizzy, none is told from such an intimate perspective, nor with the shared sense of playful mischief. Gene Kirby’s text and photo collection show why the pitcher was a baseball phenom, but more importantly, show why Dizzy remains an enduring legend.

To order copies, please contact:

Cool Cat Communications

Box 701713

San Antonio, TX 78270-1713

Email: Coolcatcomm@att.net

Bo Carter phone: 214-418-6132

Former Outland Trophy winner Bill Stanfill dies

Bill Stanfill, winner of the Outland Trophy in 1968.

Bill Stanfill, winner of the Outland Trophy in 1968.

University of Georgia All-American, Outland Trophy winner, and College Hall of Fame inductee Bill Stanfill died Thursday night in Albany, Ga.

Born Jan. 13, 1947, the Cairo native followed his stellar college career as one of the NFL’s greatest players as a member of the Miami Dolphins who selected him in the first round of the 1969 NFL draft. In 1969, he was named the AFL Rookie of the Year runner-up and during his career was named All-Pro four times. He was a starter on the 1972 and ’73 Miami Dolphin Super Bowl championship teams.

CLICK HERE to read the entire store at GeorgiaDogs.com.

 

 

 

Middle Tennessee State’s Steven Rhodes named fifth winner of Armed Forces Merit Award

Armed Forces Merit Award

Armed Forces Merit Award

FORT WORTH, Texas — U.S. Marine veteran Steven Rhodes, a senior defensive end at Middle Tennessee State University, is the fifth recipient of Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).

Coordinated by the staff at the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA was created in June 2012 “to honor an individual and/or a group within the realm of the sport of football.”

Brant Ringler, the executive director of the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, and Steve Richardson, the FWAA’s executive director, announced here Friday that Rhodes, who will be 28 in 11 days, is the 2016 recipient.

Steven Rhodes

Steven Rhodes

A seven-person committee made up of FWAA members and Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl officials selected Rhodes from a list of 16 nominations for the 2016 award.  Nate Boyer of the University of Texas was named the initial recipient of the award in 2012, followed by Brandon McCoy of the University of North Texas in 2013, Daniel Rodriguez from Clemson University in 2014 and Bret Robertson of Westminster College (Fulton, Mo.) in 2015.  All four individuals were U.S. Army veterans before playing college football.

“On this very special day, Veterans’ Day 2016, we are pleased to join with the Football Writers Association of America to name Steven Rhodes as the fifth recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award,” said Ringler. “We had a list of 16 outstanding nominations for this year’s award and it is difficult to select only one each year when we have individuals and programs that are very deserving of the honor.”

Richardson echoed Ringler’s sentiments along with adding that the FWAA is “pleased to team with Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl to recognize Rhodes’ achievement as a veteran who used his armed forces experiences to benefit his teammates and coaches at Middle Tennessee State University.  The FWAA also salutes the other 2016 nominations for their contributions on-and-off the field of play.”

Rhodes joined the Middle Tennessee football program after serving five years in the U.S. Marines.  Following his enrollment in 2013, the NCAA originally ruled that Rhodes only had two years of eligibility and would have to sit out the 2013 season since he played recreational football on base for a two-year period.

After Rhodes’ eligibility story went national on August 18, 2013, the next day the NCAA issued a statement saying Rhodes could play immediately and had four years of eligibility. Since the August 2013 ordeal, Rhodes has played in 47 games at Middle Tennessee with 27 career starts, including nine this fall for the 6-3 Blue Raiders.

A 6-foot-3, 260-pound defensive end and fourth oldest player in the Football Bowl Subdivision, Rhodes is the team’s eighth leading tackler with 29 total stops (18 unassisted), with 4.5 tackles for losses, 2.5 sacks, two pass deflections, five quarterback hurries, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.  For his career, Rhodes has 98 total tackles (63 unassisted).

Following graduation in 2007 from Antioch (Tenn.) High School where he played football, Rhodes enlisted in the Marine Corps as a shoulder injury and financial issues initially kept him from attending college.  Rhodes’ “road” back to college football started three years ago when he was stationed at the Marine Corps Air Station in New River, N.C.  When he was moved to MCAS Miramar, Calif., he started for the Miramar Falcons in 2012.

Even though he only played one season, his Miramar coaches saw the potential he displayed and helped to make sure he reached his goal.  A former Falcon coach helped Rhodes film his games so he could send them to colleges.  With the film from the games, Rhodes was recruited by Middle Tennessee, the school he had planned on attending before sustaining his shoulder injury.

Rhodes credits the Marines for “his healthy perspective and mental toughness.  What the [Marines] do and what they stand for — honor, courage, commitment — it stands for every aspect of my life.”

Motivated by his family, Rhodes states that his wife (Adrienne, formerly in the Navy but now a stay-at-home mom who home schools their children) and two sons (Kameron and Devon) inspire him to excel on the football field and in the classroom.  Rhodes is pursuing a degree in Organized Communication.  Rhodes met his wife while he was in the Marines and she was in the Navy.

“It’s definitely tough,” Rhodes said. “It’s like having several fulltime jobs. I’m a husband first, then a father, then a student-athlete. My freshman year was the worst — just trying to make that adjustment. My wife and I have gotten on the same page. She’s made it as seamless and worry-free for me as possible. We’re moving toward a common goal. It was a tough ride, but I wouldn’t change any of it. It’s molded me into the man I am today.”

Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill said Rhodes had leadership qualities as soon as he joined the team, but that it took a while for him to have a big effect on the team because he was only around his new teammates at practice.

“Just because you’re a leader in some other capacity, until you get to know people and people get to know you on a personal level, I think it takes a little bit of time,” Stockstill said. “When he was a freshman, everybody on the outside assumed he was going to be a great leader and all of that, which he was. But it didn’t impact the team because the team didn’t know him. Now, he’s established himself not only as a player but as a person, he’s one of our leaders.”

ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a large portfolio of collegiate sporting events worldwide. The roster includes three Labor Day weekend college football games; FCS opening-weekend game; 13 college bowl games, 11 college basketball events and two college award shows, which accounts for approximately 250-plus hours of programming, reaches almost 64 million viewers and attracts over 700,000 attendees each year. With satellite offices in Albuquerque, Birmingham, Boca Raton, Boise, Dallas-Fort Worth, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Montgomery and St. Petersburg, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans.  ESPN Events also manages the Big 12 Corporate Partner Program.  Collegiate Football — AdvoCare Texas Kickoff (Houston); AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl (Houston); Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl (Atlanta); Birmingham Bowl (Alabama); Boca Raton Bowl (Florida); Camping World Kickoff (Orlando, Fla.); Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Boise); Gildan New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque); Hawai’i Bowl (Honolulu); Las Vegas Bowl (Nevada); Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth); MEAC/SWAC Challenge (Baton Rouge, La.); Montgomery Kickoff Classic (Montgomery, Ala.); Popeyes Bahamas Bowl (Nassau); Raycom Media Camellia Bowl (Montgomery, Ala.); St. Petersburg Bowl (Florida); The Home Depot College Football Awards (Atlanta) and Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth).  Collegiate Basketball — AdvoCare Invitational (Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla.); College Basketball Awards Presented by Wendy’s (Los Angeles); Gildan Charleston Classic (South Carolina); Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic (Honolulu); Jimmy V Men’s  Classic presented by Corona (New York City); Jimmy V Women’s Classic presented by Corona (Uncasville, Conn.); NIT Season Tip-Off (Brooklyn, N.Y.); PK80 (Portland, Ore.); State Farm Armed Forces Classic (Honolulu); State Farm Champions Classic (New York City); Tire Pros Invitational (Orlando, Fla.) and Wooden Legacy (Orange County, Calif.).  For more information, visit the official website, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube pages.

The Football Writers Association of America (FWAA, http://www.sportswriters.net) consists of the men and women across North America who cover college football for a living.  Founded in 1941, 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 an All-America team.  Through its website, the FWAA works to improve communication among all those who work within the game. The FWAA also sponsors scholarships for aspiring writers and an annual writing contest.  Behind the leadership of President Mark Anderson of the  Las Vegas Review-Journal, Executive Director Steve Richardson and a board of veteran journalists, the FWAA continues grow and work to help college football prosper at all levels. There are now over 1,300 members.

Media Contacts

Two FWAA members have new book on 2015 Michigan State-Michigan game

EDITOR’S NOTE:  FWAA members Jack Ebling and Joe Rexrode co-authored a book about the 2015 Michigan State-Michigan football game. Rexrode has since left the Michigan State beat and is now a columnist at the The Nashville Tennessean. But his former paper printed an excerpt from the book, “The Perfect :10”, about the stunning ending to the game and the people involved. Ebling, a media staple of the Michigan State sports scene for years as a writer and now a broadcaster, has been to every Michigan State-Michigan game since 1969.)