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.”
“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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
• All-time Outland Trophy winners and finalists