Wisconsin’s D’Cota Dixon wins FWAA Courage Award 1

Dixon had three tackles  in Wisconsin’s 34-24 victory over Miami, Fla in the Capital One Orange Bowl this past Saturday. The Badgers finished the season 13-1. 

DALLAS – Wisconsin safety D’Cota Dixon is the winner of the 2017 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award. Dixon, a 5-foot-10, 204-pound redshirt junior, overcame an unstable family situation and personal health issues to post his second straight all-Big Ten season for the 12-1 Badgers.

D’Cota Dixon

“I’ve always had to face trials and tribulations in some form or matter,” Dixon said in a UWBadgers.com video feature in October. “Though I had relatives and family that were close, and I knew they loved me – I know they always meant the best and loved me — but I felt like nothing was ever stable. I felt like it was always somebody leaving.”

Dixon had a brother convicted of attempted murder, and he was placed in foster care as his mother struggled to provide for the family.

Dixon’s father and his father’s girlfriend, Beth Coston, took Dixon and another brother in. But as Dixon’s father’s drug addiction grew intense, Coston assumed guardianship and moved the brothers away.

“I didn’t really know my dad but I knew who he was, but I never had a true relationship with him, even when I was in Miami,” Dixon said. “But I had comfort in my mom. She loved us very much. She had a manic depression illness, so there would be times where she wasn’t home. It was just real tough when we got taken from her, but by the grace of God it was a blessing in disguise because I do have a mother named Beth who I love very much. That’s my sweetheart.”

Dixon later repaired his relationship with his father, but his father passed away. Dixon and Coston were then evicted from their home during Dixon’s senior year of high school. Dixon’s girlfriend, Grace, and her mother took Dixon in.

“The time that I had with him, that solid probably from seventh grade to ninth grade, was the best years ever,” Dixon said. “So it just hit me. It hurt me so much when he died my freshman year in high school, and really for me I felt like it was like: Here we go again. I was kind of just real numb and just real angry.

“I didn’t go to school for like two weeks. I was real mad, just frustrated.”

In the spring of 2016, Dixon spent a week in the hospital with a life-threatening infection that left him in pain and unable to walk. He recovered in time to start the season opener, which he punctuated with an interception with 57 seconds left to seal a win against No. 5 LSU. Dixon started all 14 games for the Badgers, who went 11-3 and won the Cotton Bowl.

He recorded 60 tackles, four interceptions and four pass break-ups en route to third-team All-Big Ten honors, in addition to Academic All-Big Ten honors.

Dixon picked up where he left off in 2017, fighting through a hamstring injury to play in 10 games, start eight and earn first-team All-Big Ten honors from the league’s coaches. (He was named second-team all-conference by the media.) He tallied 52 tackles, including 3.5 for loss and 1.5 sacks, to go with one interception, three breakups, one hurry and one forced fumble. He posted a game-best 12 tackles in a Sept. 30 win against Northwestern in the Big Ten opener, including a safety in the final minute to help preserve the victory – a victory that ended up being the deciding factor in the Big Ten West race.

Dixon was again an Academic All-Big Ten honoree, and the No. 6 Badgers ran the regular-season table before the Big Ten title game. They entered bowl season with the nation’s No. 1 defense (253.2 yards per game).

“This is a tremendous honor for D’Cota,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. “I really admire the way he approaches and appreciates life. With what he has gone through, for him to have such a positive outlook and be so willing to help others is a real testament to his character and his faith. He is intent on maximizing all of his opportunities. The best thing I can say about D’Cota is that if you spend any amount of time around him, he makes you want to be a better person, because of how he carries himself and his genuine care for others.”

Though Dixon had eventually moved with his brother and Coston to Oak Hill, Florida, he is a South Florida native. And he will be returning to the area for the Badgers’ finale, as they take on No. 11 Miami on Dec. 30 in the Capital One Orange Bowl.

“I feel like my hardships and trials have built me to who I am today and I’m proud of them,” Dixon said. “I wouldn’t take nothing back. I wouldn’t change one thing, not one single event that ever happened in my life. I’m grateful for them, in all honesty.”

The Courage Award was first presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) in 2002. A select group of writers from the FWAA vote on the winner each year. The requirements for nomination include displaying courage on or off the field, including overcoming an injury or physical handicap, preventing a disaster or living through hardship. James Conner will be included in festivities during Capital One Orange Bowl week and receive his trophy at an on-field presentation during the Capital One Orange Bowl game between No. 6 Michigan and No. 11 Florida State on Dec. 30.

Previous winners of the Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award are Pittsburgh running back James Conner (2016), Miami offensive lineman Hunter Knighton (2015), Duke offensive lineman Laken Tomlinson (2014), San Jose State defensive lineman Anthony Larceval (2013), Clemson wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez (2012), Michigan State offensive lineman Arthur Ray Jr. (2011), Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand (2010), the University of Connecticut football team (2009), Tulsa’s Wilson Holloway (2008), Navy’s Zerbin Singleton (2007), Clemson’s Ray Ray McElrathbey (2006), the Tulane football team (2005), Memphis’ Haracio Colen (2004), San Jose State’s Neil Parry (2003) and Toledo’s William Bratton (2002).

About the Orange Bowl

The Orange Bowl is a 360-member, primarily-volunteer non-profit sports organization that promotes and serves the South Florida community. With its primary mission since being created in 1935 to bring tourism to South Florida through an annual football game and events, it has also maintained a legacy of charitable contributions and community outreach. Orange Bowl community outreach efforts are comprised of four pillars: youth sports, fundraising and community events, academic programs and scholarships, and legacy gifts. The Orange Bowl features a year-round schedule of events culminating with the Capital One Orange Bowl on December 30, 2017. For more information on the 2017-18 Orange Bowl events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities through the Ambassador Program presented by Panera Bread, log on to orangebowl.org. Follow Orange Bowl: @OrangeBowl, Facebook and Instagram.

More on Dixon from landof10.com.


President’s column: Coming to grips with award season

I suppose we’re susceptible to award fatigue this time of year. All of the shows and the speech-making and tux-wearing and glad-handing and back-slapping can get a little much, especially when bowl season is already upon us.

David Jones, 2017 FWAA President

It can almost make you turn into one of those cynical iconoclasts, the type who refuse to attend such functions for all their self-congratulation. I have been close to so afflicted at times.

But, then… nahhh. See, I’m a sucker for a gratuitous grip-n-grin shot. I even do them with friends. Which made my duties the past couple of weeks a pleasure.

I have to say, the six young men the FWAA honored earlier this month at the Bronko Nagurski Trophy gala in Charlotte both surprised me and altered my thinking about awards shows. They all not only seemed to enjoy their honor with a sense of humility, but they also appeared to genuinely enjoy the experience.

And I feel like I made some new friends. At one time or another, I was able to have a conversation with all of the Nagurski finalists as well as Virginia Military’s Greg Sanders (the Defender of the Nation Award recipient) during the two days of various functions in Charlotte.

Though it was the end of a long and grueling regular season, I think Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick, Georgia’s Roquan Smith, Houston’s Ed Oliver, Iowa’s Josey Jewell and the Nagurski winner, North Carolina State’s Bradley Chubb, all got a real kick out of both meeting new people and each other. They even managed to make the best of spending a disproportionate amount of time in formal attire.

When you meet those who have the stuff to excel in any walk of life, it’s always fun to see what makes them tick. That’s how a simple question to Jewell about his major at Iowa resulted in a comprehensive explanation of a business plan he has in the works for a new way to graze cattle. It periodically moves them onto fresh ground with the use of global positioning satellite tracking. You’ll just have to trust me on this, it was actually fascinating.

A couple of nights later, I represented the FWAA at the National Football Foundation dinner in New York and found myself at one point standing in a line between Jerry Jones and Steve Spurrier as dozens of us waited to be introduced to the assembled multitudes at the Midtown Hilton ballroom. Talk about, “Which of these is not like the others?”

Ready or not, the postseason honors are coming fast and furious now. Houston’s Oliver, a mere sophomore, did find himself the winner of the Outland Trophy, which we helped announce last week at the Home Depot College Awards on ESPN. He’ll be formally honored on Jan. 10 in Omaha at the presentation banquet.

Outgoing Central Florida head coach Scott Frost, who’s headed to Nebraska, his alma mater, after the Knights’ Peach Bowl match against Auburn, was just announced as our FWAA Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year. I’ll have the pleasure of presenting him with that trophy in Atlanta on Jan. 6.

You may already have perused the FWAA 2017 All-America Team, released on Monday. And this year’s Orange Bowl Courage Award winner will be announced late this year, on Dec. 29.

Of course, we’re all looking forward to the FWAA Awards Breakfast on Jan. 8 in Atlanta when I’ll help hand out the Bert McGrane Award, the Steve Ellis Beat Writer of the Year Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Volney Meece Scholarship.

And I’m personally very much anticipating the introduction then of your new FWAA president for 2018, Stef Loh from The Seattle Times. She’s not just one of my favorite people in this business, she’s a terrific writer and reporter who’ll represent this office with honor.

More about all that in my final missive in a few weeks. Until then, let’s go bowling! And if I come up to you somewhere these next few weeks and arbitrarily demand a grip-n-grin shot, look, just humor me.


40 bowl games, and ‘everybody wins’

Wright Waters, executive director of the College Bowl Association, says that “everybody wins” in the 40 bowl games, even in those games some of us consider meaningless.

CLICK HERE to read Blair Kerkhoff’s take in the Kansas City Star.


Scott Frost named FWAA/Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year

Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award

DALLAS — It took Scott Frost only two seasons to turn what was a winless UCF team into an unbeaten one. For finishing a complete turnaround this season that includes a conference championship and a New Year’s Day bowl bid, Frost earned the 2017 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award, the association and the Allstate Sugar Bowl announced Thursday.

UCF (12-0) was the only unbeaten team in the Football Bowl Subdivision in the regular season, and will meet Auburn (10-3) in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on New Year’s Day. Five days later he will return to Atlanta to be honored as the FWAA’s coach of the year. It will be Frost’s final game at UCF before taking over as head coach at his alma mater, Nebraska. As a senior quarterback, Frost helped lead the Cornhuskers to a perfect 13-0 record and a national championship in 1997.

2017 FWAA/Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Scott Frost, who led the University of Central Florida to an unbeaten season and will become Nebraska’s next coach, at the College Football Awards Show on Dec. 7 in Atlanta.

“Scott Frost is one of the up-and-coming coaches in college football,” said 2017 FWAA President Dave Jones of the PA Media Group. “What he did at UCF was nothing short of remarkable in just two seasons.”

In conjunction with presenting sponsor, the Allstate Sugar Bowl, the Football Writers Association of America selected Frost over seven other finalists: Bill Clark of UAB; Lane Kiffin of Florida Atlantic; Jeff Monken of Army; Lincoln Riley of Oklahoma; Kirby Smart of Georgia; Dabo Swinney of Clemson; and Jeff Tedford of Fresno State.

Frost became the first coach whose school is not currently among the Power Five conferences to win the FWAA Coach of the Year Award since Air Force’s Fisher DeBerry in 1985.

“The Allstate Sugar Bowl is proud to be able to honor Coach Robinson, a Louisiana legend, by sponsoring this award,” said Stanley Cohn, the President of the Allstate Sugar Bowl Committee. “I would also like to congratulate Scott Frost on earning this honor. To take a team that was winless two years ago all the way to an undefeated season and the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl is a very impressive feat. We look forward to officially presenting the trophy to him in Atlanta next month.”

The official presentation will be on Jan. 6, 2018, at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel where Frost will be handed the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year bust during a reception in conjunction with the College Football Playoff National Championship.

The season prior to Frost’s arrival in Orlando from his post as Oregon’s offensive coordinator, the Knights were 0-12. In Frost’s first season in 2016, the Knights finished 6-7 and played in the AutoNation Cure Bowl in Orlando after making dramatic improvements on offense and defense.

That set the stage for 2017 and the Knights’ undefeated run to win the American Athletic Conference title. UCF led the FBS in scoring (49.4 points per game) with its “UCFast” offense and was tied for second in the country in turnover margin (plus-1.25 per game).

“I’m very proud of what this group of student-athletes and coaches has accomplished during my tenure at UCF,” Frost said last week. “The Knights should be in the conversation for the American Athletic Conference championship year in and year out. UCF should be a Top 25 program year in and year out. I believe this program is well on its way to establishing that level of success.

“The next head coach at UCF is inheriting an incredible group of young men and is more fortunate than he probably knows to be working at this place.”

The FWAA has presented a coaching award since the 1957 season when Ohio State’s Woody Hayes was named the first recipient. The FWAA coaching award is named after the late Robinson, a coaching legend at Grambling State University for 55 seasons.

Robinson, who passed away in 2007, won 70.7 percent of his games during his illustrious career. Robinson’s teams won or tied for 17 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championships after joining the league in 1959. His Tigers won nine Black College Football Championships during his career spent all at the same school.

The Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 24 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about our story.

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 Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the premier college football bowl games, having hosted 27 national champions, 92 Hall of Fame players, 48 Hall of Fame coaches and 17 Heisman Trophy winners in its 83-year history. The 84th Allstate Sugar Bowl Football Classic, which will double as a College Football Playoff Semifinal, will be played on January 1, 2018. In addition to football, the Sugar Bowl Committee annually invests over $1.6 million into the community through the hosting and sponsorship of sporting events, awards and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors nearly 100,000 student-athletes each year, while injecting more than $2.5 billion into the local economy in the last decade. For more information, visit AllstateSugarBowl.org.



Tommy Nobis, 1965 Outland Trophy winner, has died

Tommy Nobis, who won the FWAA’s Outland Trophy while playing for Texas in 1965 and went on to a long and storied career with the Atlanta Falcons, died at his suburban Atlanta home on Wednesday. He was 74.

CLICK HERE to read the obituary by CBSNews.com.



Photo gallery: 2017 Bronko Nagurski Award

Scenes from the 2017 Bronko Nagurski Award presentation banquet and an earlier Nagurski High School Leadership Forum on Dec. 5 in Charlotte, N.C.


Photo gallery: 2017 Outland Trophy presentation

Scenes from the 2017 Outland Trophy presentation at the College Football Awards Show in Atlanta.


FWAA names 2017 All-America team

The 2017 Football Writers Association of America All-America Team was announced Monday, headlined by seven first-team players from the Big 12 Conference and with eight of the 10 Football Bowl Subdivision conferences represented.

Oklahoma led the field with three members on the first team, punctuated by Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield at quarterback. Tight end Mark Andrews and offensive tackle Orlando Brown, an Outland Trophy finalist for the best interior lineman in college football, also represented the Sooners on the first team. Mayfield was the FWAA’s second-team quarterback in 2015 and ’16, and moved to the first team along with 2016 second-teamers Brown, Texas punter Michael Dickson and Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver, the Outland Trophy winner.

The Big 12’s other selections came from Texas, Oklahoma State and Iowa State. Two other schools – Iowa and Notre Dame – had multiple first-team players. Both of Notre Dame’s All-Americans were up front, with Mike McClinchey and Quenton Nelson earning spots on the offensive line. Iowa’s representation came from the defense, linebacker Josey Jewell and defensive back Josh Jackson. Besides Dickson, Texas also included defensive back DeShon Elliott. The first team also featured Bradley Chubb of North Carolina State, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner as the best defensive player in college football.

The first team included a mix of 13 seniors, 10 juniors and four sophomores. The conference breakdown on the first team was: Big 12 (7), Big Ten (4), ACC (3), Pac-12 (3), American Athletic (2), Independents (2), Mid-American (2), Mountain West (2) and SEC (2). There are no repeat members on the 27-player first team, and overall 46 players of the 54 honored players are first-time FWAA selections.

Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington and Iowa State linebacker Joel Lanning were also a part of the Big 12’s first-team contingent. Skill-position players Rashaad Penny of San Diego State (running back) and Michael Gallup of Colorado State (wide receiver) headlined the two first-team picks from the Mountain West Conference. The Mid-American Conference produced two first-team picks up front in Western Michigan offensive lineman Chukwuma Okorafor and Northern Illinois defensive lineman Sutton Smith, who was one of four sophomores on the team joining Houston’s Oliver, Florida State defensive back Derwin James and Memphis kick returner Tony Pollard Oliver and Pollard were the two picks from the American Athletic Conference.

The two first-team selections from the Southeastern Conference came on defense: linebacker Roquan Smith of Georgia and defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick of Alabama. The ACC’s third selection to the first-team, in addition to NC State’s Chubb and Florida State’s James, was also on defense in Clemson lineman Austin Bryant. Two of the Pac-12’s three first-team honorees came on special teams – punter Matt Gay of Utah and punt returner Dante Pettis of Washington – and in the backfield with running back Bryce Love of Stanford.

The FWAA’s All-America Committee selected this 74th annual team based on nominations from the entire membership. This is just the fifth season in the modern era (post-1950) that the FWAA has named a second team. The FWAA also selected an all-purpose player for the first time – Saquon Barkley of Penn State was the 2017 first-team member – raising the number of first- and second-team players (27 on each) to 54. Barkley was one of four Big Ten players on the first team, along with Jewell and Jackson from Iowa and Ohio State center Billy Price.

Eight players were repeat members of the All-America Team. Joining Mayfield, Brown, Dickson and Oliver as multi-year selections were Auburn kicker Daniel Carlson, Virginia linebacker Micah Kiser, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson and Utah punter Mitch Wishnowsky. Jackson and Wishnowsky were first-team members in 2016, and Carlson and Kiser each made the second team for a second straight season. Mayfield is the only three-time selection on this year’s team.

Auburn and Wisconsin both had three second-team selections and Clemson, Stanford and Virginia had two each.

Since 1945, the FWAA All-America Team has been among the five teams used to formulate the NCAA’s annual consensus All-America team, which will be announced later this week. Since the 2002 season, the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), The Associated Press, The Sporting News and the Walter Camp Football Foundation have joined the FWAA as the five designated selectors by the NCAA.

The FWAA All-America Team was first selected in 1944, three years after the organization was formed. The FWAA’s inaugural team included Army’s Heisman Trophy tandem of Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis and Georgia Tech’s Frank Broyles, who later became Arkansas’ head football coach and athletic director.

Over the years, the FWAA team has highlighted all the game’s great players in several media forums. From 1946-70, LOOK magazine published the FWAA team and brought players and selected writers to New York City for a celebration. During that 25-year period, the FWAA team was introduced on national television shows by such noted hosts as Bob Hope, Steve Allen and Perry Como.

After LOOK folded, the FWAA started a long association with NCAA Films (later known as NCAA Productions), which produced a 30-minute television program. The team was part of ABC-TV’s 1981 College Football Series. From 1983-90, the team was introduced on either ABC or ESPN. In 2002 and ‘03, the All-America team was honored with a banquet at the Citrus Bowl.

The same bowl also was a sponsor when the team was featured on ABC and ESPN from different locations on Disney properties from 2004-07. From 2008-10, the team had been the subject of a one-hour ESPN special.

For seven decades the FWAA has selected an All-America team with the help of its members and an All-America Committee, which represents all the regions in the country. From that All-America team, the FWAA also selects the Outland Trophy winner (best interior lineman) and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner (best defensive player).

Some of the true greats of the writing profession have helped to select this team over the years: Grantland Rice, Bert McGrane, Blackie Sherrod, Furman Bisher, Pat Harmon, Fred Russell, Edwin Pope, Murray Olderman, Paul Zimmerman – and the list goes on and on. The FWAA All-America team is steeped in tradition and history and is selected by a writers’ group with those same attributes.

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 2017 First-Team FWAA All-America Team

QB Baker Mayfield Oklahoma 6-1 220 Sr. Austin, Texas
RB Bryce Love Stanford 5-10 196 Jr. Wake Forest, N.C.
RB Rashaad Penny San Diego State 5-11 220 Sr. Norwalk, Calif.
WR Michael Gallup Colorado State 6-1 200 Sr. Monroe, Ga.
WR James Washington Oklahoma State 6-0 205 Sr. Stamford, Texas
TE Mark Andrews Oklahoma 6-5 254 Jr. Scottsdale, Ariz.
OL Orlando Brown Oklahoma 6-8 345 Jr. Duluth, Ga.
OL Mike McGlinchey Notre Dame 6-8 315 Gr. Philadelphia, Pa.
OL Quenton Nelson Notre Dame 6-5 330 Sr. Holmdel, N.J.
OL Chukwuma Okorafor Western Michigan 6-6 330 Sr. Southfield, Mich.
C Billy Price Ohio State 6-4 312 Gr. Austintown, Ohio
DL Austin Bryant Clemson 6-5 265 Jr. Pavo, Ga.
DL Bradley Chubb N.C. State 6-4 275 Sr. Marietta, Ga.
DL Ed Oliver Houston 6-3 290 So. Houston, Texas
DL Sutton Smith Northern Illinois 6-0 225 So. St. Charles, Mo.
LB Josey Jewell Iowa 6-2 236 Sr. Decorah, Iowa
LB Joel Lanning Iowa State 6-2 230 Sr. Ankeny, Iowa
LB Roquan Smith Georgia 6-1 225 Jr. Montezuma, Ga.
DB DeShon Elliott Texas 6-2 210 Jr. Rockwall, Texas
DB Minkah Fitzpatrick Alabama 6-1 202 Jr. Old Bridge, N.J.
DB Josh Jackson Iowa 6-1 192 Jr. Corinth, Texas
DB Derwin James Florida State 6-3 215 So. Haines City, Fla.
K Matt Gay Utah 6-1 220 Jr. Orem, Utah
P Michael Dickson Texas 6-3 205 Jr. Sydney, Australia
KR Tony Pollard Memphis 5-11 200 So. Memphis, Tenn.
PR Dante Pettis Washington 6-1 195 Sr. San Clemente, Calif.
AP Saquon Barkley Penn State 5-11 230 Jr. Coplay, Pa.

Outland Trophy goes to Houston’s Ed Oliver

ATLANTA — Houston sophomore defensive tackle Ed Oliver was named the recipient of the 72nd Outland Trophy on Thursday night during The Home Depot College Football Awards from the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.

The Houston native claimed the trophy that goes to the top interior lineman in college football, as chosen by the Football Writers Association of American. Oliver is the first Houston player to receive the Outland Trophy, as well as the first sophomore to win the award since its inception in 1946. The 6-foot-3, 290-pound tackle was chosen over finalists Quenton Nelson, a senior offensive guard at Notre Dame, and Oklahoma junior offensive tackle Orlando Brown.

“Ed Oliver is one of the rising young stars in college football,” said FWAA President Dave Jones of the PA Media Group. “On the defensive line he is prolific. He is one of the most aggressive defenders in college football who some day will be in the National Football League.”

2017 Outland Trophy winner Ed Oliver of the University of Houston.

“I’m not surprised. He’s the best lineman in college football – it is not even close,” said Houston head coach Major Applewhite. “Ed is just a tremendous player. He has a lot of great physical skill. He works to hone those skills every day. He is a technician. He has a 3.2 GPA over his first semesters and you don’t have to worry about him off the field.”

Oliver is the fourth defensive tackle to win the Outland Trophy since 2007, following Pitt’s Aaron Donald (2013), Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh (2009) and LSU’s Glenn Dorsey (2007). A true sophomore in 2017, Oliver will return next season to the Cougars as a junior. In Atlanta, he was flanked by Houston head coach Major Applewhite and his brother Marcus Oliver, a senior starting offensive guard for the Cougars.

Oliver was a second-team FWAA All-American as a freshman and a member of the FWAA’s Freshman All-America Team. He has established himself as arguably the nation’s top defensive player as a sophomore playing the nose tackle position in the Cougars’ three-man front. Oliver tallied 69 tackles in 11 games despite missing portions of two games due to injury. He recorded a career-high 14 tackles in the final game of the regular season against Navy, including a career-high tying 3.5 tackles for loss.

On the season, Oliver has 5.5 sacks, 14.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, three pass breakups and seven quarterback hurries. Oliver was also one of five finalists for the FWAA’s Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the nation’s top defensive player. He is the first player from Houston to win the American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year honor.

“Defensively, it all starts with their defensive tackle, Ed Oliver, who I think is probably the most impactful player in our conference, and one of the most impactful defensive linemen in the country,” said Memphis coach Mike Norvell. “At any of the schools I’ve coached at, if we were playing this young man, I’d say he’s one of the best defensive linemen, regardless of conference, regardless of where they are, he’s a phenomenal player. And when you take a phenomenal player and you surround him with so many other explosive athletes that can create problems with their defensive scheme, it leads you to some sleepless nights.”

Previously, Oliver was a five-star recruit at Houston’s Westfield High School and was generally regarded as the No. 1 player in the state of Texas in 2016, choosing the Cougars over Alabama, Baylor, LSU, Mississippi, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M.

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 1800s. The Outland Trophy is the third-oldest award in major college football behind the Heisman Trophy and Maxwell Award.

For the 21st consecutive year, the Outland Trophy Presentation Banquet will occur in Omaha on Jan. 10, 2018, and will be sponsored by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee at the DoubleTree Hotel Downtown. At the same banquet, the fourth annual Tom Osborne Legacy Award, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Omaha-Downtown, will be presented to Florida State coaching legend Bobby Bowden.

Also appearing at the dinner for the 20th straight year will be the winners of Nebraska’s football senior awards – the Tom Novak Trophy, the Guy Chamberlin Trophy and the Cletus Fischer Native Son Award.

The Outland Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 24 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about our story.

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 Presentation Banquet, the Greater Omaha Sports Committee promotes high school, college, and professional sports in the Greater Omaha area and the Midwest.

Related link:
• All-time Outland Trophy winners and finalists