DALLAS — 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.
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).
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.)
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 email@example.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.