Winners of 30th Annual FWAA Best Writing Contest announced Reply

The results for the 30th Annual FWAA Best Writing Contest presented by collegepressbox include one writer who claimed a first place for a second straight year, one writer who had three awards and two first-time winners. 

Dave Wilson of ESPN.com won first place in Column after winning in Feature last year. Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com took first in Game Story and added two honorable mentions. Rich Scarcella of the Reading Eagle (Features) and Tom Shanahan of the TomShanahan Report (Enterprise) were first-time first-place winners.

Three other writers — Drew Davison, formerly of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Ryan McGee of ESPN.com and Chris Vannini of The Athletic — each claimed two awards.  

First-place winners will receive game balls from Big Game and collegepressbox.  Finishers 1-3 receive cash prizes and certificates. Honorable mentions receive certificates. The first-place entries are  displayed in The Fifth Down. Follow the links below to read those stories.

To read the first-place stories, click on the links below.

GAME

First Place — Dennis Dodd, CBSSports.com

Second Place — James Crepea, The Oregonian

Third Place — Ivan Maisel, On3.com

Honorable Mention — Max Olson, The Athletic; Ryan McGee, ESPN.com; Matt Baker, Tampa Bay Times

FEATURE

First Place — Rich Scarcella, Reading Eagle

Second Place — David Ubben, The Athletic

Third Place — David Hale, ESPN.com

Honorable Mention — Steve Kornacki, The Kornacki Wolverine Report, Substack.com; David Teel, Richmond Times-Dispatch; Dennis Dodd, CBSSports.com

COLUMN

First Place — Dave Wilson, ESPN.com

Second Place — Mike Griffith, AJC-DawgNation

Third Place — Ryan McGee, ESPN.com

Honorable Mention — Drew Davison, Fort Worth Star-Telegram; Chris Vannini, The Athletic; Dennis Dodd, CBSSports.com

ENTERPRISE

First Place — Tom Shanahan, TomShanahan.Report

Second Place — Drew Davison, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Third Place — Audrey Snyder, The Athletic

Honorable Mention — Chris Vannini, The Athletic; Brent Zwerneman, Houston Chronicle; Matt Fortuna and Pete Sampson, The Athletic

Best column: Dave Wilson, ESPN.com Reply

Comment by the judge: The biggest story in college football was Oklahoma and Texas moving to the SEC. This is an interesting look at what the schools may endure in the Big 12 before they leave. Good quotes from Jack Crowe.

By Dave Wilson

ESPN.com

Big 12 teams have never had to muster enthusiasm to take on Texas or Oklahoma. The Sooners have won 14 Big 12 titles in the league’s 24 years, including the past six. The Longhorns won the first Big 12 title in 1996 before adding two more in 2005 and 2009, and Texas’ self-assuredness (school motto: “What Starts Here Changes The World”) and standing in college football history elicits strong emotions from rivals.

But on Saturday, the Big 12’s departing heavyweights will play their first conference road games since opting for the greener pastures of the SEC, which means the Sooners and Longhorns can expect even more hostility than usual.

“When you go on a trip, you just expect to arrive with the respect of who you are and what you represent,” said Jack Crowe, who coached against the Longhorns as a coordinator and head coach at Arkansas and later as an assistant at Baylor. “Good luck on that one, boys. When they line up to boo you from between the bus and the door, you’ll know things have changed.”

Crowe would know. He was the Arkansas head coach in 1990 and 1991 when the Razorbacks were in the same boat. Crowe didn’t know the Hogs would be leaving the Southwest Conference for the SEC when he took the job. Even further, he said he didn’t know athletic director Frank Broyles would announce on Aug. 1, 1990, that the Razorbacks were departing, just three days before the Southwest Conference’s annual media event.

Arkansas’ experience three decades ago — as well as a handful of others since — could be a preview of what Texas and Oklahoma can expect.

In the recent history of college football realignment, Arkansas’ move is probably the closest comparison to the Big 12’s predicament, leaving a football-driven conference that was already facing questions about its future viability.

Maryland was a founding member of the ACC in 1953 and announced its departure for the Big Ten in 2012, but it had won just one conference title in football since 1985, and basketball coaches in the league were most vocal about the switch. Miami and Virginia Tech left the Big East in 2004, but both had been in the league a relatively short time and were the two best football programs in a legendary basketball league. Colorado left the Big 12 for the Pac-12 in 2010 and Nebraska went to the Big Ten in 2011, both dealing blows to the conference, but big-market star power still remained.

But the Razorbacks weren’t just leaving a conference. They were the only Southwest Conference school outside the Texas state lines, and their departure signaled the alarm that the conference could be in trouble.

If that sounds familiar, perhaps it’s because it’s a similar thought that’s been whispered about the fate of the Big 12 after losing its two most prominent members.

So how hostile can Texas and Oklahoma expect it to get?

At that media day in 1990, emotions ran so high that Baylor coach Grant Teaff compared the Hogs’ move to that week’s invasion of Kuwait.

“I’m now thoroughly convinced that the Southeastern Conference is the Iraq of the college football scene in America,” Teaff said.

Then-Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum said that teams would be geared up to “get their last licks on Arkansas,” adding, “The fans will probably be more emotionally involved than the players.”

The players, for their part, were more insulated from it. They were already accustomed to fans taunting them. But the 1990 and 1991 seasons added a new wrinkle on the field.

“Players would hit you and say, ‘Take that to the SEC with you,'” said Quinn Grovey, Crowe’s quarterback in 1990. “There was a lot of trash talk.”

In the Big 12, fans are already looking for their chance to make themselves heard. On Sept. 11, during the only College GameDay appearance at a Big 12 site this year for the Iowa-Iowa State game in Ames, there were several “HORNS DOWN” signs in the crowd and another that said “TRAITORS” with the Texas and Oklahoma logos.

Fans tailgating in the Jack Trice Stadium parking lots took aim at Texas in particular.

“We brought them in [to join the former Big Eight] and they’ve been chaos with other schools,” said Joel Farley of Okoboji, Iowa. “I think we would still probably have an A&M in the conference, we would still have a Missouri, we would have a Colorado and even a Nebraska. We’re like, ‘Man, we just took everybody else’s problem.'”

On a day Cyclones fans were facing their biggest rival, they were already ready for Texas. What happens when the Longhorns actually have to go to Ames on Nov. 6?

“The booing might be deafening,” Crowe said. “The students will get their point across.”

Longhorns coach Steve Sarkisian has acknowledged the SEC move could stir up opponents.

“Our bull’s-eye got a little bit bigger,” Sarkisian said in August. “We can’t be naive to that. Whether it’s crowd noise, whether it’s yelling at us on the bench, whether it’s the ‘Horns Down’ signal, all those things are really irrelevant to our ability to execute and succeed at a really high level.”

Former Nebraska coach Bo Pelini wasn’t just worried about the fans heading into the Cornhuskers’ lame-duck season in the Big 12 in 2010. He was already convinced the Cornhuskers were getting a raw deal from the league.

The season before, Nebraska celebrated on the field after Colt McCoy threw an incomplete pass as the final seconds ticked off the clock in the Big 12 championship game. But following a booth review, officials put a second back on the clock, and Texas kicked the game-winning field goal.

Now the Huskers were spurning the league and heading north.

“The league office was not happy and now you’ve got to play a whole year like that,” he said. “I remember telling the team, ‘Don’t expect any help from the referees. We’re changing conferences and that’s just the way it is.’ That’s the way it turned out to be.”

Late in the season, the 9-1 Huskers, ranked No. 8, traveled to Texas A&M for a big game against the No. 19 Aggies. Nebraska was penalized 16 times for 145 yards. Texas A&M had two penalties for 10 yards. The Aggies won 9-6.

Pelini cited several calls he considered puzzling. A pass interference call on A&M was waved off by officials. A player got called for what he considered an errant late hit. Another was flagged for targeting when Pelini said the film showed the player hitting the quarterback in the middle of his back.

“We didn’t get any breaks from the referees, I tell you that,” he said. “In my opinion, we got ripped off. It was a joke.”

And getting to and from the games could be a little less hospitable, Crowe said.

“You depend on a lot of people when you go on the road that aren’t your people, and it’s gonna be different,” he said. “And you’re gonna feel it.”

He recalled walking into Texas’ Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium and being left at the entrance by the state troopers who normally escort coaches before and after games.

“The highway patrolmen walked out of the locker room and sort of stopped there for a second. One of them looked at me and said, ‘Well, this is as far as we go, Coach,'” Crowe said. “Literally, they didn’t want to be seen with me.”

Grovey, the quarterback, said fans were even more animated than usual.

“It was already difficult for us when we went to go play in Texas but [the impending move] intensified it a little bit more,” he said.

Both Pelini and Crowe don’t believe it’s sustainable for Texas and Oklahoma to remain in the conference until their grant of rights are up in 2025, as officials at both schools have indicated so far.

Pelini said even a 2023 departure would be tough.

“Two years of it?” he said. “That’s crazy. You’re dealing with bad blood. You have to answer questions all the time about ‘This is gonna be the last time of this and the last time of that.’ It gets old.”

Pelini said it affected his focus in recruiting, too. Some players he was recruiting in Texas or California, two places Nebraska typically had fared well, didn’t want to play in the Big Ten.

That’s not likely a problem for either Texas or Oklahoma since their regional rivalries will remain intact, but there’s still the issue of trying to explain when and if the current players or recruits will play in a different league. Crowe just thinks that two of the sport’s blue bloods won’t want to deal with the tension if they don’t have to.

“I don’t think either one of them’s egos can stand to go down that path,” Crowe said. “It ain’t that much money [relative to the programs’ finances] and when you put it in the hands of people that can make big things happen … they won’t let that go long.”

Still, Crowe said it might be worth hastening the exit strategy for competitive reasons. Crowe was fired just one game into his third season after Arkansas joined the SEC. He took a job at Baylor and said it didn’t just feel like all of Texas was plotting against him at Arkansas, but it could have actually been a coordinated effort.

“I was told by a Southwest Conference coach, ‘Jack, it was sort of an unwritten rule that whenever you played Arkansas, every other school would help you with their information to put their game plan together,'” he said. “Normally, conference people don’t do that. But you’re not in the conference. They wanted to make sure every week you played every school.”

Texas will head to Fort Worth on Saturday to face TCU, which is 7-2 against the Longhorns since joining the Big 12. The Horned Frogs already had a chip on their shoulder after being left behind when the Southwest Conference dissolved and had to claw to get back to equal standing, working their way through Conference USA, the WAC and the Mountain West to earn a Big 12 invite.

Oklahoma has its own challenges, facing Kansas State in Manhattan, Kansas, where the Wildcats stunned the Sooners two years ago 48-41 before beating OU again last year in Norman 38-35.

While both Texas and OU are favored this weekend, Crowe preached caution.

“You’ve drawn a line with every other state [in the Big 12] that you’re about to throw ’em out,” he said. “You can be their undoing. You’re taking some of their pride with you, because it won’t be the same. Those other teams know it’s never gonna be any better than it was.

“Good luck, Texas and Oklahoma.”

Dave Wilson

Dave Wilson

ESPN.com

AGE: 48

COLLEGE: Kilgore College, UT-Arlington

BACKGROUND: Wilson won for a column about what Texas and Oklahoma could come to expect as Big 12 lame ducks on road trips to schools they were leaving behind, looking back at the hostile atmospheres that faced Arkansas after its split from the dearly departed Southwest Conference and Nebraska during its tumultuous Big 12 exit.

Wilson became a reporter at ESPN in 2020, after working as an editor for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine since 2010. A native of Kilgore in East Texas, he worked at five Texas newspapers, including nearly 15 years as a designer and art director before becoming an editor. This is his fifth FWAA honor, including a first-place for Best Feature in the Best Writing Contest a year ago.

After eight years in Bristol, Connecticut, Wilson returned to the Austin area in 2018 with his wife, Alicia and sons Parks and Coen and daughter Rosemary.

Best Game Story: Dennis Dodd, CBSSports.com Reply

Comment by the judge: Good use of drawing on all the elements of the game, including the pre-game speech.

By Dennis Dodd

CBSSports.com

INDIANAPOLIS — Jack Harbaugh dug deep Friday night. The task for the patriarchal soul of Michigan football was to convey the gravity of the moment. Coming into the 2021 Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday night, the first question to be answered was whether the No. 2 Wolverines would be hungover.

There was no way, popular thought went, that Michigan could rise as high mentally and physically as it had the previous week against Ohio State. The argument could be made, after all the previous frustration against the Buckeyes, that the 42-27 decision was the Wolverines’ national championship.

That’s why the 82-year-old father of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh spoke to the team Friday about finishing. He chose a forgettable fight by a forgettable former middleweight champion, Vito Antuofermo, to make his point.

In 1977, Eugene “Cyclone” Hart beat up on Antuofermo so bad, he broke his ribs. The The New York Times that night described Antuofermo as having “no physical attributes to brag about except he bled well.” But the then-24-year-old Italian immigrant pushed on through the pain.

Afterward, Antuofermo said, if he’d been hit in those ribs one more time, he would have quit. But he never did. In the fifth round that night, Antuofermo staggered Hart with a shot and eventually won by knockout.

“One more round. One more round!” said Jack Harbaugh, recounting his message to the Wolverines.

The 44-year-old message from another century was received in the moment. It took Saturday night for it to hit home. Michigan beat No. 13 Iowa 42-3 to ensure it one more round, that being in the College Football Playoff.

Coming into Saturday night’s raucous atmosphere at Lucas Oil Stadium, it could be argued the team with the most wins in college football history was still short one.

Michigan entered the game with 975 all-time wins, but it had never advanced to the College Football Playoff. Sure, the CFP has only eight of Michigan football’s 142 years of existence, but the point stands.

The result proved the Wolverines did not peak in the snow last week in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They did not leave years of longing back home. They opened a can of whoop ass on the Hawkeyes before opening up more possibilities.

Michigan: 2021 national champion? After what happened across the country Saturday, why not? It could be time to party like it’s 1997, the last time Michigan won it all.

“Everything’s in front of us,” linebacker Josh Ross said.

On the surface, this Big Ten Championship Game was “easier” than slaying the Ohio State giant. Michigan came in as a prohibitive 11-point favorite. Iowa had slogged its way to a 10-win season the way it usually slogs. The Hawkeyes didn’t do anything particularly well except create turnovers. Their 24 interceptions were the most by a Power Five team since 2014.

“The leading cause of interceptions in the United States is tipped balls and overthrows,” said Jim Harbaugh this week on the Big Ten Network.

Harbaugh sounded like a medical professional warning against the vagaries of dental plaque.

Michigan proved in the first half it hadn’t used its entire playbook against Ohio State. Running back Blake Corum ran 67 yards on UM’s seventh snap of the game. Fellow RB Donovan Edwards threw an option pass to a wide-open Roman Wilson for the second score. Those two plays accounted for 142 of Michigan’s 253 first-half yards.

Getting to this point means the season won’t be known only for beating the Buckeyes. There is further definition. There is a Big Ten title, the Wolverines’ first outright since 2003 in their first Big Ten Championship Game. There is a national playoff semifinal against a still unknown opponent. But at least Michigan will be there.

Who would have guessed all of this 11 months ago, the day Michigan had announced Harbaugh’s restructured contract extension that put the coach on notice after six seasons? Maybe only that patriarch and his fiercely loyal family.

We get to watch Big Ten defensive player of the year Aidan Hutchinson one more time. We get to watch RB Hassan Haskins, who ran for almost half his yards this campaign in the final four games of the regular season. We get to watch a Maize and Blue blue blood injected with a bit of Cinderella.

Now, one of the most tradition-rich programs in sports is suddenly a newbie. In the previous seven years, only 12 teams have taken the 28 available spots in the playoff. A “new” team hasn’t appeared in the CFP at all since 2019. The bracket is now assured of at least some fresh faces with Clemson and Ohio State out of it.

And Michigan in it.

One more round.

How’d the Fightin’ Antuofermos get here? Quarterback Cade McNamara became something more than a game manager. Harbaugh rededicated himself and reassembled his coaching staff. Brother John, the Baltimore Ravens coach, recommended his linebackers coach become the Wolverines defensive coordinator.

Mike Macdonald, 34, quickly became a star putting together a top 10 scoring defense.

One brother diminished his staff to enrich his sibling’s chances of success.

“I really love Michigan football, and I really love you,” Jim said John told him, “so I want to see you both be successful.”

Told you the family was fiercely loyal.

Jack Harbaugh still tells stories about Bo Schembechler, the legend he worked under across seven seasons as defensive backs coach.

John Harbaugh has Bo’s famous quote — “The team, the team, the team” — plastered in the Ravens’ facility.

These Wolverines have a bit of Bo in this them.

Jim Harbaugh still runs a lot of 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends), preferring to grind it out instead of using eye candy. The offense bludgeons you, then lulls you asleep. Wide receiver A.J. Henning helped break open the Ohio State game with an end-around touchdown.

Who knew part of Michigan lore would now be a decades-old story about a middleweight palooka connected to a football-factory heavyweight.

“It was somewhat embellished,” Jack Harbaugh said impishly.

Check that, Jack. Nothing is embellished about Michigan at the moment.

“We’ve got to finish the mission,” Macdonald said this week.

At least one more round is assured.

Dennis Dodd

Dennis Dodd

CBSSports.com

Age: 65

College: Missouri

Background: Dennis Dodd is back in the winner’s circle. He has placed first in an FWAA  writing category multiple times during his career, as well as collected other awards in the FWAA contest. He was the Bert McGrane Award winner announced last January for 2022. He was the FWAA’s Steve Ellis Co-Beat Writer of the year in 2018 and President of the FWAA in 2006. Still living in the Kansas City area with wife, Janet, and approaching 25 years with CBS Sports, Dodd remains one of the top writers in college football. The couple can be seen often in Arizona when Dennis is not criss-crossing the country on the college beat. 

Best Feature: Rich Scarcella, Reading Eagle Reply

Comment by the judge: An emotional then-and-now look at a success story against the odds.

By Rich Scarcella

Reading Eagle

Wayne Sebastianelli had been with Adam Taliaferro from the moment he fell awkwardly to the field at Ohio Stadium and couldn’t get up.

Sebastianelli, the Penn State football team doctor then and now, stayed with Taliaferro in Columbus, Ohio, until his father arrived the following day. He visited him often at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital, first when he couldn’t move his arms and legs and then after he began his miraculous recovery.

So Sebastianelli was a bit apprehensive almost a year later when Taliaferro warned him about what might happen on the night of Sept. 1, 2001.

“I remember him goofing around a couple days before that night and saying he was going to run out of the tunnel and onto the field,” Sebastianelli recalled. “He’d pop in every now and then into the office and tell us that. I’d say, ‘Be careful.’ He was just going to do it.”

Less than 12 months after suffering a severe spinal cord injury at Ohio State, Taliaferro thrilled the record crowd of 109,313 at newly expanded Beaver Stadium and a prime time television audience when he led the Nittany Lions onto the field before their season opener against Miami (Fla.).

On that night 20 years ago, he wore his blue No. 43 jersey, waved to the roaring crowd as he waited to be introduced, walked onto the field and surprised everyone with a hop, skip and jog.

“I remember it like it was yesterday,” Taliaferro said. “We were in the locker room and I felt like I was a player all over again. I had that nervous feeling I’d get before every game. Doc Sebastianelli came up to me at my locker and asked if I was OK.

“He said, ‘Adam, whatever you do, people are going to appreciate it.’ I went out there and this peace just came over me.”

It was very unlike how Taliaferro had felt a year earlier, Sept. 23, 2000, as a freshman cornerback. He tackled Ohio State running back Jerry Westbrooks late in Penn State’s lopsided loss. He tried to use his arms to pull himself up and couldn’t. Then he tried to stand using his legs and couldn’t. He couldn’t feel his arms or his legs.

“The thought of being paralyzed never went through my head,” he said. “I remember Bhawoh Jue, our other corner, saying, ‘Adam, c’mon, get up!’ I remember him reaching down toward me and I started panicking because I couldn’t move anything.

“I remember looking up and seeing Doc Sebastianelli and Coach (Joe) Paterno. As time went on I started to panic. I remember telling Doc, ‘I can’t move! I can’t move!’ From that point it kind of got blurry.”

Sebastianelli, trainer George Salvaterra and other medical staffers from Penn State and Ohio State carefully placed him on a stretcher. Dr. Chris Kaeding, Ohio State’s orthopedic surgeon, helped stabilize Taliaferro, who received a steroid injection about an hour after the injury to reduce swelling. The following day, neurosurgeon Dr. Gary Rea performed a two-hour spinal fusion surgery on him at the Ohio State Medical Center.

After four days there, Taliaferro was flown to Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, near his home in Voorhees, N.J. He slowly began to progress and was moved in early October to the Magee Rehabilitation Center a few blocks away.

“About four or five days into my stay at Magee, my dad (Andre) rolled me up to the rooftop so I could get some fresh air,” he said. “Two guys were playing basketball and I broke down. That was the first time it hit me that I was disabled. I realized I was broken. My body didn’t work anymore.

“That was the first time I cried. My dad said, ‘Get it all out. We were waiting for you to have this moment.’ That was probably one of my lowest points.”

He was told he had a 3% chance of walking again. About three weeks later, however, the turning point in his recovery happened. After his mother, Addie, and his father had gone home one night, one of his nurses looked at the end of his bed and noticed he was moving his toe.

“She asked me to do it again and I did,” Taliaferro recalled. “It was about 10:30 or 11 at night and she called my dad. He drove back to see it for himself. We had a celebration in the hospital room that night.

“He called Coach Paterno and some of my teammates to finally tell them good news. It was probably one of the best moments of my life.”

Andre Taliaferro also called Sebastianelli well after 1 a.m. and screamed the news to him.

“I still feel chills when I think about that call,” Sebastianelli said. “I knew then that he was going to be able to walk. He was the miracle. He just took off after that. It was meteoric.”

Adam Taliaferro walked out of Magee on crutches in January 2001, underwent therapy there as an outpatient for four hours every weekday until April and returned to Penn State as a student in May. He still expected to play football again and fulfill his childhood dream of playing in the NFL.

That was until preseason camp began in August 2002.

“I was sitting in the locker room and the guys were putting on their shoulder pads and helmets,” he said. “I felt like I was going to cry. It hit me that I wouldn’t be playing anymore. Then I thought back to the patients at Magee who were struggling just to walk and struggling to breathe on their own.

“I thought, ‘What the hell are you thinking?’ I never thought about it again. I always thought how fortunate, blessed and lucky I am.”

Tom Bradley, who became Penn State’s defensive coordinator in 2000, said Taliaferro would have had a great career in college and maybe in the NFL. A three-sport athlete at Eastern High, he was a first-team all-state selection on offense (running back) and defense. He was widely considered one of the best high school football players in South Jersey history.

“He was the best young defensive back I ever coached,” said Bradley, who was on the Penn State staff from 1979-2011. “He had great skills. He could do everything. He was tough. He was smart. He understood the game. He was coachable. He was just an exceptional talent.”

Taliaferro served as a student assistant coach, graduated from Penn State and earned his law degree from Rutgers-Camden. He joined Bristol-Myers Squibb as a health-care advocate and later became a politician. He’s seeking his fourth full term as a New Jersey state Assemblyman.

Now 39, he’s married to Erin, a former Penn State swimmer he met in 2001. They have two children, Cruz, 6, and Chloe, 3.

He said he wouldn’t have met his wife or become an advocate, a lawyer or a politician if not for his injury.

“Of course, I can be bitter about not playing football,” Taliaferro said, “but it really taught me how to discover myself. I truly thought I was just a football player and that’s all I could do. The injury was horrible, but the life lessons I learned going through it were priceless.”

Since his injury, he has put his name on a foundation that provides emotional, financial and educational support to individuals who suffer catastrophic spinal cord injuries and their families in New Jersey, Pennsylvania or Delaware. He often visits patients with spinal cord injuries at Magee.

“The biggest thing is to provide hope,” he said. “When I was at Magee there was a guy who had the same injury and he would walk into my room to visit me. It made it real for me. I remember how that inspired me. If I can serve in that capacity, I’m honored to do it.”

Sebastianelli and Bradley are not surprised by what Taliaferro has accomplished in his life. Sebastianelli said he had nightmares “for a long time” about that afternoon in Columbus in 2000.

Almost a year later and inspired by a prediction Bradley had made at his bedside, Adam Taliaferro made a walk at Beaver Stadium that will be remembered forever at Penn State.

“I was on our sideline and I could see the tunnel,” Sebastianelli recalled. “I saw Adam walk out. As soon as the crowd saw him, it was just over. I had tears streaming down my face. There was a referee standing near me and he asked if I was OK. ‘I’ve never felt better.’

“I’ve been doing this for 40 years and you just don’t see that. You don’t get that special gift very often. That was one of them. That was truly special.”

Rich Scarcella

Rich Scarcella

Reading Eagle

Age: 63.

College: Penn State.

Background: This is Scarcella’s fifth FWAA award dating back to 1992, but the first time he’s received a first-place honor. A former FWAA board member, he’s also been recognized many times in the Associated Press Sports Editors, the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors and the Keystone Press writing contests. Born in Dunmore, Pa., and raised in Hazleton, Pa., Scarcella began his career at the Hazleton Standard-Speaker in 1981 and covered high school sports and Penn State football. He moved in 1986 to the Reading Eagle, where he’s covered high school sports, motor sports and professional golf. He started covering Penn State football at the Eagle in 1989 and is in his 34th season on the beat. Scarcella’s work has appeared in Lindy’s for three decades and in The Sporting News.

He and his wife of 38 years, Sandy, live in Leesport, Pa., with their dog, Captain. They have two sons, Eric, 35, and Joshua, 31.

FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll: Week 3 Reply

Week 3: games played through Sept. 17, 2022

TEAMPOINTSFIRST-PLACE VOTESLAST WEEK’S RANK
1.Georgia (3-0)827471
2.Alabama (3-0)76912
3.Ohio State (3-0)74143
4.Michigan (3-0)650 4
5.Oklahoma (3-0)585 6
6.Clemson (3-0)577 5
7.USC (3-0)532 7
8.Oklahoma State (3-0)416 8
9.Kentucky (3-0)371 10
10.Arkansas (3-0)311 9
11.Tennessee (3-0)246 14
12.Penn State (3-0)205 N/A
13.NC State (3-0)158 16
14.Utah (2-1)115 15
15.Ole Miss (3-0)100 N/A
16.Washington (3-0)84 N/A

OTHERS RECEIVING VOTES: Oregon (66), Baylor (60), Texas A&M (50), Texas (31), BYU (30), Florida State (29), Florida (24), Minnesota (19), Wake Forest (17), Miami, FL (15), Michigan State (15), Washington State (14), Kansas (6), Pittsburgh (4), TCU (3), Appalachian State (1), North Carolina (1).

To see how individual voters cast their ballots, CLICK HERE.

The top 10 teams in the poll had a combined record of 10-0 in Week 3. Georgia picked up 47-of-52 first-place votes and remained No. 1 for the second week in a row after defeating SEC rival South Carolina 48-7 in Week 3. The top ranking marks Georgia’s 10th appearance at No. 1, which ties Ohio State for third-most appearances at No. 1. An SEC team has been ranked No. 1 in this poll each week dating back to September 29, 2019, a span of 30 weeks.

No. 11 Tennessee rose to its highest ranking since the Volunteers took the No. 9 spot on October 9, 2016. NC State’s No. 13 ranking marked the Wolfpacks’ highest position ever in the history of the poll.

Michigan State, BYU and Miami (FL) dropped out of the poll completely after suffering defeats in Week 3.

Penn State, Ole Miss and Washington joined the poll for the first time this season, claiming Nos. 12, 15 and 16, respectively. Washington’s appearance in the poll marks the Huskies’ first appearance since September 29, 2019.

The SEC leads all conferences with six teams, marking only the 11th time in the history of the rankings for an individual conference to have at least six teams appear in the same poll. The last time occurred when the SEC did it September 16, 2021. The Big Ten and Pac-12, had three each, followed by the Big 12 and ACC with two each.  

SCHEDULE (SEPT. 24):
Kent State at No. 1 Georgia
Vanderbilt at No. 2 Alabama
Wisconsin at No. 3 Ohio State
Maryland at No. 4 Michigan
Kansas State at No. 5 Oklahoma
No. 6 Clemson at Wake Forest
No. 7 USC at Oregon State
No. 8 Oklahoma State (Idle)
Northern Illinois at No. 9 Kentucky
No. 10 Arkansas vs. Texas A&M (Arlington, TX)
Florida at No. 11 Tennessee
Central Michigan at No. 12 Penn State
UConn at No. 13 NC State
No. 14 Utah at Arizona State
Tulsa at No. 15 Ole Miss
Stanford at No. 16 Washington

ABOUT THE FWAA-NFF SUPER 16 POLL: The FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll was established at the conclusion of the 2013 season by long-time partners, the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the National Football Foundation (NFF). Voters rank the top 16 teams in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision, and the results will be released every Sunday of the 2022 season; the individual votes of all members will also be made public. The first regular season poll will be released on Tuesday, Sept. 6 (to account for Labor Day games), and the final poll will be released Sunday, Dec. 4. The pollsters consist of FWAA writers and College Football Hall of Famers who were selected to create a balanced-geographical perspective. The poll utilizes a computer program designed by Sports Systems, a TicketManager company, to compile the rankings.

ABOUT THE FWAA: Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of journalists, broadcasters, publicists, photographers and key executives in all areas of college football. The FWAA works to govern media access and gameday operations while presenting awards and honors, including an annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its programs and initiatives, contact Executive Director Steve Richardson at 214-870-6516 or tiger@fwaa.com. 

ABOUT THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL FOUNDATION & COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME: Founded in 1947 with early leadership from General Douglas MacArthur, legendary Army coach Earl “Red” Blaik and immortal journalist Grantland Rice, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame is a non-profit educational organization that runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people. Learn more at www.footballfoundation.org and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @NFFNetwork.

FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll: Week 2

Week 2: Games Played Through September 10, 2022

TEAMPOINTSFIRST-PLACE VOTESLAST WEEK’S RANK
1.Georgia (2-0)816392
2.Alabama (2-0)773101
3.Ohio State (2-0)74333
4.Michigan (2-0)650 4
5.Clemson (2-0)600 5
6.Oklahoma (2-0)523 6
7.USC (2-0)505 10
8.Oklahoma State (2-0)381 11
9.Arkansas (2-0)344 13
10.Kentucky (2-0)317 N/A
11.Michigan State (2-0)313 14
12.BYU (2-0)221 N/A
13.Miami (FL) (2-0)202 15
14.Tennessee (2-0)137 N/A
15.Utah (1-1)124 16
16.NC State (2-0)93 N/A

OTHERS RECEIVING VOTES: Baylor (59), Ole Miss (40), Texas (40), Penn State (36), Texas A&M (32), Florida (22), Mississippi State (22), Florida State (16), Appalachian State (14), Wake Forest (12), Washington State (10), Kansas State (8), Marshall (8), Oregon (2), Texas Tech (2), Minnesota (2), Pittsburgh (2), North Carolina (1), UCLA (1), TCU (1).

To see how individual voters cast their ballots, CLICK HERE.

NOTES:
Georgia picked up 39-of-52 first-place votes, advancing from No. 2 to No. 1 after defeating Samford, 33-0, at home. Alabama dropped to No. 2 after a 20-19 victory on the road against Texas. Ohio State and Michigan both posted wins, holding on to the No. 3 and No. 4 spots for a second consecutive week. No. 5 Clemson appeared in the poll for the 83rd time since 2014, which moves the Tigers to fifth for most all-time appearances.

No. 7 USC rose to its highest ranking since the Trojans took the No. 5 spot on September 24, 2017. Arkansas’ No. 9 ranking marked the Razorback’s highest position ever in the history of the poll.

Notre Dame dropped out of the poll completely after losing to Marshall, marking the first time the Fighting Irish failed to appear in the poll since October 1, 2017. Texas A&M, Baylor and Florida also dropped out of the poll after suffering defeats

NC State returned to the poll at No. 16 while Kentucky, BYU and Tennessee joined the poll for the first time this season, claiming Nos. 10, 12 and 14, respectively. Tennessee’s appearance in the poll marks the Volunteers’ first appearance since October 16, 2016.

The SEC leads all conferences with five teams, followed by the Big Ten and ACC, which had three each. The Big 12 and Pac-12 each had two and Independents with one.

SCHEDULE (SEPT. 17):
No. 1 Georgia at South Carolina
ULM at No. 2 Alabama
Toledo at No. 3 Ohio State
UConn at No. 4 Michigan
Louisiana Tech at No. 5 Clemson
No. 6 Oklahoma at Nebraska
Fresno State at No. 7 USC
Arkansas-Pine Bluff at No. 8 Oklahoma State
Missouri State at No. 9 Arkansas
Youngstown State at  No. 10 Kentucky
No. 11 Michigan State at Washington
No. 12 BYU at Oregon
No. 13 Miami (FL) at Texas A&M
Akron at No. 14 Tennessee
San Diego State at No. 15 Utah
Texas Tech at No. 16  North Carolina State

ABOUT THE FWAA-NFF SUPER 16 POLL: The FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll was established at the conclusion of the 2013 season by long-time partners, the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the National Football Foundation (NFF). Voters rank the top 16 teams in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision, and the results will be released every Sunday of the 2022 season; the individual votes of all members will also be made public. The first regular season poll will be released on Tuesday, Sept. 6 (to account for Labor Day games), and the final poll will be released Sunday, Dec. 4. The pollsters consist of FWAA writers and College Football Hall of Famers who were selected to create a balanced-geographical perspective. The poll utilizes a computer program designed by Sports Systems, a TicketManager company, to compile the rankings.

ABOUT THE FWAA: Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of journalists, broadcasters, publicists, photographers and key executives in all areas of college football. The FWAA works to govern media access and gameday operations while presenting awards and honors, including an annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its programs and initiatives, contact Executive Director Steve Richardson at 214-870-6516 or tiger@fwaa.com. 

ABOUT THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL FOUNDATION & COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME: Founded in 1947 with early leadership from General Douglas MacArthur, legendary Army coach Earl “Red” Blaik and immortal journalist Grantland Rice, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame is a non-profit educational organization that runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people. Learn more at www.footballfoundation.org and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @NFFNetwork.

FWAA/NFF Super 16 Poll: Week 1

Week 1: Games Played Through September 5, 2022

TEAMPOINTSFIRST-PLACE VOTESLAST WEEK’S RANK
1.Alabama (1-0)809321
2.Georgia (1-0)786173
3.Ohio State (1-0)74032
4.Michigan (1-0)5875
5.Clemson (1-0)5804
6.Oklahoma (1-0)4779
7.Texas A&M (1-0)4598
8.Baylor (1-0)40210
9.Notre Dame (0-1)3916
10.USC (1-0)28513
11.Oklahoma State (1-0)24311
12.Florida (1-0)213N/A
13.Arkansas (1-0)177N/A
14.Michigan State (1-0)16415
15.Miami (FL) (1-0)14816
16.Utah (0-1)1307

OTHERS RECEIVING VOTES:Pittsburgh (89), Wisconsin (84), NC State (74), BYU (45), Florida State (42), Tennessee (32), Ole Miss (26), Texas (25), Penn State (15), Kentucky (13), Mississippi State (9), Oregon (7), Houston (5), Wake Forest (5), UCF (4), Kansas State (3), Minnesota (2), TCU (1).

To see how individual voters cast their ballots, CLICK HERE.

NOTES:
Alabama held the No. 1 spot in Week 1 of the rankings, having claimed the position in the Preseason Poll. The Crimson Tide received 32-of-52 first-place votes. Georgia picked up 17 first-place votes, advancing from No. 3 to No. 2 after defeating Oregon, 49-3, in Atlanta. Notre Dame dropped three spots to No. 9 after losing on the road to Ohio State. Utah fell nine spots to the No. 16 ranking after losing to Florida. Oklahoma moved up three spots to No. 6.

Oregon dropped out of the poll completely after losing to Georgia, marking the first time the Ducks failed to appear in the poll since Sept. 3, 2019. NC State also dropped out of the poll despite a 21-20 victory on the road against East Carolina.

No. 10 USC landed its highest ranking since the Trojans took the No. 8 spot on Dec. 3, 2017. Miami’s No. 15 ranking marked the Hurricanes’ highest position since No. 8 on Aug. 20, 2018.

Florida and Arkansas joined the poll for the first time this season, claiming Nos. 12 and 13, respectively.

The SEC leads all conferences with five teams, followed by the Big Ten and Big 12, which had three each. The ACC and Pac-12 each had two and Independents with one.

SCHEDULE:
No. 1 Alabama at Texas
Samford at No. 2 Georgia
Arkansas State at No. 3 Ohio State
Hawaii at  No. 4 Michigan
Furman at No. 5 Clemson
Kent State at No. 6 Oklahoma
Appalachian State at  No. 7 Texas A&M
No. 8 Baylor at BYU
Marshall at No. 9 Notre Dame
No. 10 USC at Stanford
Arizona State at No. 11 Oklahoma State
Kentucky at No. 12 Florida
South Carolina at No. 13 Arkansas
Akron at No. 14 Michigan State
Southern Mississippi at No. 15 Miami (Fla.)
Southern Utah at No. 16 Utah

ABOUT THE FWAA-NFF SUPER 16 POLL: The FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll was established at the conclusion of the 2013 season by long-time partners, the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the National Football Foundation (NFF). Voters rank the top 16 teams in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision, and the results will be released every Sunday of the 2022 season; the individual votes of all members will also be made public. The first regular season poll will be released on Tuesday, Sept. 6 (to account for Labor Day games), and the final poll will be released Sunday, Dec. 4. The pollsters consist of FWAA writers and College Football Hall of Famers who were selected to create a balanced-geographical perspective. The poll utilizes a computer program designed by Sports Systems, a TicketManager company, to compile the rankings.

ABOUT THE FWAA: Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of journalists, broadcasters, publicists, photographers and key executives in all areas of college football. The FWAA works to govern media access and gameday operations while presenting awards and honors, including an annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its programs and initiatives, contact Executive Director Steve Richardson at 214-870-6516 or tiger@fwaa.com. 

ABOUT THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL FOUNDATION & COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME: Founded in 1947 with early leadership from General Douglas MacArthur, legendary Army coach Earl “Red” Blaik and immortal journalist Grantland Rice, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame is a non-profit educational organization that runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people. Learn more at www.footballfoundation.org and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @NFFNetwork.

Alabama tops 2022 FWAA/NFF Super 16 Pre-Season Poll

PRE-SEASON POLL, AUGUST 16, 2022

RANKTEAMPOINTSFIRST-PLACE VOTESLAST WEEK’S RANK
1.Alabama82242N/A
2.Ohio State7666N/A
3.Georgia7284N/A
4.Clemson622 N/A
5.Michigan530 N/A
6.Notre Dame513 N/A
7.Utah482 N/A
8.Texas A&M457 N/A
9.Oklahoma408 N/A
10.Baylor319 N/A
11.Oklahoma State228 N/A
12.Oregon219 N/A
13.USC 204N/A
14.NC State202 N/A
15.Michigan State127 N/A
16.Miami (FL)109 N/A

OTHERS RECEIVING VOTES: Pittsburgh (55), Arkansas (48), Ole Miss (36), Wisconsin (34), BYU (31), Texas (26), Cincinnati (20), Penn State (17), Florida (14), Houston (12), LSU (9), Kentucky (7), Tennessee (4), Wake Forest (4), South Carolina (4), UCF (3), Mississippi State (3), Nebraska (2), Kansas State (2), Air Force (2), West Virginia (1), Iowa (1), North Carolina (1).

To see how individual voters cast their ballots, CLICK HERE.

NOTES:
National runner-up and defending SEC Champion Alabama dominated the preseason poll with 42 of 52 first place votes. This is Alabama’s 59th appearance as the No. 1 team in this poll since 2014. The Crimson Tide leads all schools for appearances at No. 1 and is the only team to appear in each of the 105 weekly rankings since 2014.

Ohio State was second in the poll voting with six first place votes and 56 points behind Alabama with defending national champion Georgia at No. 3 with four first place votes, respectively.

No. 4 Clemson is in the poll for the first time since September 19, 2021, followed by Michigan, Notre Dame, Utah, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Baylor. Seven of the top 10 teams appeared in New Year’s Six bowl games last season. NC State is No. 14 and in the poll for the first time since October 15, 2018.

In the 2022 preseason poll, the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC had three teams each, Independents-one.  All Power-Five conferences had equal representation for the first time in the history of the poll which started in 2014.

The eventual national champion has been ranked in the top six of the preseason poll six times since 2015. Alabama in 2017 is the only national champion to start the season ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll.

SCHEDULE:

ZERO WEEK
No Super 16 Teams in Action

WEEK 1  (Sept. 1-5)

Thursday, Sept. 1
Central Michigan at  No. 11 Oklahoma State

Friday, Sept. 2
Western Michigan at No. 15 Michigan State

Saturday, Sept. 3
Utah State at No. 1 Alabama
No. 6 Notre Dame at No. 2 Ohio State
No. 12 Oregon at No. 3 Georgia (Atlanta)
Colorado State at No. 5 Michigan
No. 7 Utah at Florida
Sam Houston at  No. 8 Texas A&M
UTEP at No. 9 Oklahoma
Albany at No. 10 Baylor
Rice at No. 13 USC
No. 14 NC State at East Carolina
Bethune-Cookman at No. 16 Miami (Fla.) 

Monday, Sept. 5
No. 4 Clemson at Georgia Tech

ABOUT THE FWAA-NFF SUPER 16 POLL: The FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll was established at the conclusion of the 2013 season by long-time partners, the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the National Football Foundation (NFF). Voters rank the top 16 teams in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision, and the results will be released every Sunday of the 2022 season; the individual votes of all members will also be made public. The first regular season poll will be released on Tuesday, Sept. 6 (to account for Labor Day games), and the final poll will be released Sunday, Dec. 4. The pollsters consist of FWAA writers and College Football Hall of Famers who were selected to create a balanced-geographical perspective. The poll utilizes a computer program designed by Sports Systems to compile the rankings.

ABOUT THE FWAA: Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of journalists, broadcasters, publicists, photographers and key executives in all areas of college football. The FWAA works to govern media access and gameday operations while presenting awards and honors, including an annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its programs and initiatives, contact Executive Director Steve Richardson at 214-870-6516 or tiger@fwaa.com..

ABOUT THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL FOUNDATION & COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME: Founded in 1947 with early leadership from General Douglas MacArthur, legendary Army coach Earl “Red” Blaik and immortal journalist Grantland Rice, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame is a non-profit educational organization that runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people. Learn more at www.footballfoundation.org and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @NFFNetwork.

2022 Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list unveiled

DALLAS – The Football Writers Association of America released its 2022 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List today, selecting 85 defensive standouts from 61 schools in all 10 Division I FBS conferences plus independents. The watch list roster includes five returning players from last season’s FWAA All-America team including 2021 winner Will Anderson Jr. of Alabama, five of the top 13 tacklers from last season, the top two sack leaders and six of the top 13, and two players in the secondary who each had five interceptions last year.

The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce finalists for the 2022 trophy on Nov. 16 and the winner will be unveiled Dec. 5 at the Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet in Charlotte, N.C.

Anderson, the Alabama linebacker who earned consensus All-America status as well as the 2021 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, headlines a trio of returning All-Americans coming off First Team honors. Anderson did it all last year for the College Football Playoff runner-up Crimson Tide, leading the nation in sacks with 17.5 to go with 33.5 tackles for loss and 101 total tackles – 57 solos – in his 15-game season. Will McDonald IV, a senior Iowa State defensive end, also returns to the list. McDonald posted 11.5 sacks to tie for seventh nationally last season after tying for the national sack lead in 2020 (10.5) and was the Co-Defensive Lineman of the Year in the Big 12 Conference. Steven Jones Jr., a senior safety at App State, is the country’s interception leader after snagging five last season and is one of a record seven players representing the Sun Belt Conference.

From the FWAA’s 2021 Second-Team All-America crew are Iowa teammates Jack Campbell and Riley Moss. Campbell is a senior linebacker who led the nation in tackles with 143 in 14 games and Moss tied for 14th nationally with four interceptions, returning two for touchdowns. The Hawkeyes are one of four Big Ten schools and one of 20 overall that had at least a pair of players on the list. Alabama tops the team field with four, with Anderson alongside fellow linebacker Henry To’oTo’o, junior cornerback Eli Ricks and senior safety Jordan Battle. To’oTo’o had 127 tackles last season, tied for 27th nationally. The Crimson Tide have had Bronko Nagurski Trophy finalists in nine of the last 11 seasons.

Defending national champion Georgia placed three on the list as the Southeastern Conference led all conferences with 14 selections. The Bulldogs have a player from each front of their defense in junior tackle Jalen Carter, senior linebacker Nolan Smith and sophomore cornerback Kelee Ringo. Georgia’s trio ties Clemson for the second-most by any team with the Tigers posting standout linemen Bryan Bresee and Myles Murphy on the list along with junior linebacker Trenton Simpson.

Coming off its standout defensive season that propelled it into the College Football Playoff, Cincinnati also boasts a pair of linebacking brothers on the list in Ivan Pace and Deshawn Pace. Ivan Pace is a senior transfer from Miami (Ohio) and was a first-team All-MAC selection after his 125 tackles listed 10th in the nation. He once tied an NCAA record with six sacks against Akron in 2019, and now gets to team with younger brother Deshawn, a junior who was third on the Bearcats last year with 94 tackles, nine of them for losses, and had a team-high four interceptions.

Two more outstanding sack leaders made the list. Army junior linebacker Andre Carter was second to Anderson with 15.5 sacks and tied for sixth nationally with 18.5 tackles for loss. Coastal Carolina’s sophomore defensive end Josaiah Stewart had 12.5 sacks. Among other tackles leaders is San Jose State graduate linebacker Kyle Harmon, one of two Spartans on the list after posting 135 tackles last year, fifth in the country. Another of the top returning interceptions leaders is Georgia State junior safety Antavious Lane, who tied App State’s Jones with five interceptions last year as the country’s returning pick leader. 

In addition to the above mentions, Arkansas, Baylor, Coastal Carolina, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Penn State, San Diego State, Troy, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin all had two players make the watch list. The Atlantic Coast, Big Ten and Big 12 Conferences each had 10 players on the team with the Pac-12 listing eight. The American Athletic, Mountain West and Sun Belt all had seven members, with Conference USA, the Mid-American and the independents each posting four.

The are 25 linebackers on the watch list, 18 safeties, 17 defensive ends, 13 cornerbacks and 12 tackles.

Players may be added or removed from the watch list during the course of the season. As in previous years, the FWAA will announce a National Defensive Player of the Week each Tuesday this season. If not already on the watch list, each week’s honored player will be added at that time.

2022 BRONKO NAGURSKI TROPHY PRESEASON WATCH LIST

DE Praise Amaewhule, UTEPDT Siaki Ika, BaylorCB Clark Phillips, Utah
LB Darren Anders, Bowling GreenS Tanner Ingle, N.C. StateLB Bumper Pool, Arkansas
LB Will Anderson Jr., AlabamaS Antonio Johnson, Texas A&MCB Joey Porter, Penn State
DE Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Kansas StateS Quindell Johnson, MemphisCB Eli Ricks, Alabama
S Jordan Battle, AlabamaLB Mikel Jones, SyracuseCB Kelee Ringo, Georgia
DT Keeanu Benton, WisconsinCB Steven Jones Jr., App StateS Jammie Robinson, Florida State
DT Bryan Bresee, ClemsonS Brandon Joseph, Notre DameLB Vince Sanford, Air Force
S CJ Brown, NIUDT Calijah Kancey, PittLB Noah Sewell, Oregon
LB Jack Campbell, IowaCB Kyu Blu Kelly, StanfordLB Trenton Simpson, Clemson
LB Andre Carter, ArmyS Antavioius Lane, Georgia StateS JL Skinner, Boise State
DT Jalen Carter, GeorgiaCB Darrell Luter Jr., South AlabamaCB Cam Smith, South Carolina
S Grayson Cash, UABLB Carlton Martial, TroyLB Nolan Smith, Georgia
S Jalen Catalon, ArkansasDE Brock Martin, Oklahoma StateDE Javon Solomon, Troy
DT Elijah Chatman, SMUDE Ochaun Mathis, NebraskaLB Omar Speights, Oregon State
LB KD Davis, North TexasLB Caden McDonald, San Diego StateDE Josiah Stewart, Coastal Carolina
DE Brandon Dorlus, OregonDE Will McDonald IV, Iowa StateDT Dante Stills, West Virginia
LB Dillon Doyle, BaylorS Patrick McMorris, San Diego StateDE Ron Stone Jr., Washington State
DE Viliami Fehoko, San Jose StateCB Riley Moss, IowaCB D’Jordan Strong, Coastal Carolina
CB Emmanuel Forbes, Mississippi StateDE Myles Murphy, ClemsonDT Junior Tafuna, Utah
DE Isaiah Foskey, Notre DameDT Myles Murphy, North CarolinaDT Leonard Taylor, Miami
LB Antonio Grier, USFDT PJ Mustipher, Penn StateLB Drake Thomas, N.C. State
DE Derick, Hall, AuburnDE B.J. Ojulari, LSULB Henry To’oto’o, Alabama
LB Kyle Harmon, San Jose StateDE Collin Oliver, Oklahoma StateDT Tuli Tuipulotu, USC
DE Zach Harrison, Ohio StateLB DeMarvion Overshown, TexasLB Payton Wilgar, BYU
S Xavier Henderson, Michigan StateS Gervarrius Owens, HoustonS Evan Williams, Fresno State
LB Nick Herbig, WisconsinLB Deshawn Pace, CincinnatiS Divaad Wilson, UCF
S Ronnie Hickman, Ohio StateLB Ivan Pace, CincinnatiS Rashad Wisdom, UTSA
DE Jamal Hines, ToledoLB James Patterson, BuffaloCB Charles Woods, West Virginia
CB Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, TCU  

By conference: SEC 14; ACC (10); Big 12 (10); Big Ten (10); Pac-12 (8); American Athletic (7); Mountain West (7); Sun Belt (7); Conference USA (4), Mid-American (4), Independents (4). 

By position: Linebackers 25, Safeties 18, Ends 17, Cornerbacks 13, Tackles 12.

Players may be added or removed from the list before or during the season.

The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the association’s full membership, selects a 26-man All-America Team and eventually the Nagurski Trophy finalists. The Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner will be chosen from the five finalists named in November. Committee members, by individual ballot, select the winner they regard as the best defensive player in college football.

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 college football’s most prestigious awards. The NCFAA’s 25 awards have honored more than 800 recipients since 1935. Visit NCFAA.org for more information.

The members of the NCFAA are unveiling preseason watch lists over a two-week period. Sixteen of the association’s 25 awards are presenting their preseason watch list during this time as the NCFAA has spearheaded a coordinated effort to promote each award’s preseason candidates. Following is the remaining 2022 preseason watch list calendar:

  • Wed., July 27: Lou Groza Award/Ray Guy Award
  • Thurs., July 28: Hornung Award/Wuerffel Trophy
  • Fri., July 29: Walter Camp Award
  • Mon., Aug. 1: Bednarik Award

2022 Outland Trophy watch list unveiled

DALLAS – The Football Writers Association of America has announced the preseason watch list for the 2022 Outland Trophy, recognizing 89 returning standout interior linemen representing all 10 Division I FBS conferences and independents. The 2022 season will close with the award’s 77th anniversary and the watch list offers a talented field of players to accompany two returning FWAA All-Americans.

The recipient of the 2022 Outland Trophy will be announced on The Home Depot College Football Awards, live on ESPN on Thurs., Dec. 8. The official presentation to the winner will be made at the Outland Trophy Awards Dinner sponsored by Werner Enterprises and produced by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee in Omaha, Neb., on Jan. 11, 2023.

Atop the list are two returning FWAA All-Americans, Baylor center Jacob Gall and Michigan center Olusegun Oluwatimi, each a second-team All-America selection last year. Gall, a redshirt senior, is one of three Baylor players on the list, tops in nation among the 67 teams represented along with Clemson and defending national champion Georgia. Oluwatimi, now a graduate student, will be in the middle of Michigan’s offensive line this fall after transferring from Virginia, where he guided the country’s third-leading offense up front, one that averaged 516.3 yards per game.

The Bears also offer redshirt senior Connor Galvin at offensive tackle and junior defensive tackle Siaki Ika, who plugged the middle of the nation’s 10th-best scoring defense at 18.3 points per game last year. Michigan, a College Football Playoff participant last year and one of 16 teams to have at least two players on the watch list, also offers junior guard Zak Zinter. The Wolverines averaged 214.36 rushing yards in their 14 games last year, 15th nationally. 

Like Baylor, Clemson and Georgia’s three nominees are split between the offensive and defensive lines. The Bulldogs (first, 10.2 ppg) and Tigers (second, 14.8) were the top two scoring defenses in 2021. Returning off the Bulldogs’ stalwart defense that was second in rushing and total defense and included 2021 Outland Trophy winner Jordan Davis at defensive tackle, is his likely replacement Jalen Carter. The junior was a second-team All-SEC pick by the conference coaches last year despite playing behind two first-round NFL draft picks (Davis and fellow tackle Devonte Wyatt). Carter is joined by redshirt sophomore offensive tackle Broderick Jones and senior guard Warren Ericson. 

The three Clemson players were each on last year’s watch list as well. The interior defense boasts two tackles in sophomore Bryan Bresee and senior Tyler Davis that helped the Tigers become seventh in rushing defense (96.31 ypg) and eighth in total defense (305.5) in the nation. They are joined by senior offensive tackle Jordan McFadden. 

Only Georgia (Bill Stanfill, 1968) has had an Outland Trophy winner from the trio of schools with three selections. That led the Southeastern Conference again – Georgia led the SEC with three last year also – and the SEC led all conferences with 14 overall selections from nine different schools, with three of them hosting a player on each side of the line of scrimmage. Alabama, the national runner-up whose six all-time Outland winners are second only to Nebraska’s nine, has senior defensive tackle Justin Ebiogbe and redshirt senior guard Emil Ekiyor Jr. on the team. Florida boasts junior defensive tackle Gervon Dexter and senior offensive tackle O’Cyrus Torrence, a transfer from Sun Belt Conference champion Louisiana. Texas A&M has junior guard Layden Robinson on its offensive front with junior defensive tackle McKinnley Jackson in the middle of its defense.  

Cincinnati, which qualified for the playoff with its standout defense a year ago, has two players on the list but both are on offense. Jake Renfro, a junior center, will guide the Bearcats’ front with senior offensive tackle Dylan O’Quinn on the outside. The pair of players from Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin led the Big Ten’s list of 11 players from eight different schools, second only to the SEC. Three of its 11 are defensive tackles – redshirt senior Jacob Slade of Michigan State, senior PJ Mustipher of Penn State and senior nose Keeanu Benton of Wisconsin. 

Boise State, BYU, Miami, Notre Dame, Oregon, Pitt, Troy, USC and Utah also have two players on the list. The Atlantic Coast Conference had 11 players with the Big 12 and Pac-12 each with 10 followed by the American Athletic, Mountain West and Sun Belt Conferences plus the Independents with six each. Conference USA has five selections and the Mid-American Conference four. There are 29 offensive tackles on this year’s list, just ahead of 25 defensive tackles to go with 18 centers and 17 guards. Just over half of the 131 Football Bowl Subdivision schools – 67 – are represented on the list. 

2022 OUTLAND TROPHY PRESEASON WATCH LIST

C Steve Avila, TCUG A.J. Gillie, LouisianaG Lokahi Pauole, UCF
G Clark Barrington, BYUOT Anton Harrison, OklahomaOT Nolan Potter Jr., NIU
DT Kyon Barrs, ArizonaC Sincere Haynesworth, TulaneC Jake Renfro, Cincinnati
G T.J. Bass, OregonOT Cooper Hodges, App StateG Layden Robinson, Texas A&M
OT Cooper Beebe, Kansas StateDT Siaki Ika, BaylorDT Jaquelin Roy, LSU
DT Keeanu Benton, WisconsinDT McKinnley Jackson, Texas A&MG Brendan Schlittler, Liberty
OT Connor Bishop, ArmyDT Desjuan Johnson, ToledoC John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota
DT Bryan Bresee, ClemsonOT Paris Johnson Jr., Ohio StateOT Peter Skoronski, Northwestern
G Marco Brewer, Oregon StateOT Broderick Jones, GeorgiaDT Jacob Slade, Michigan State 
G Nick Broeker, Ole MissOT Dawand Jones, Ohio StateOT Everett Smalley, Air Force
DT Jalen Carter, GeorgiaDT Calijah Kancey, PittG Sidy Sow, Eastern Michigan
G Caleb Chandler, LouisvilleOT Jaxson Kirkland, WashingtonOT Cole Spencer, Texas Tech
DT Elijah Chatman, SMUC Willie Lampkin, Coastal CarolinaOT Austin Stidham, Troy
DT Will Choloh, TroyOT Quantavious Leslie, WKUDT Dante Stills, West Virginia
C Eli Cox, KentuckyG Josh Lugg, Notre DameC Ricky Stromberg, Arkansas
OT Braeden Daniels, UtahG Christian Mahogany, Boston CollegeC Malik Sumter, Georgia State
DT Tyler Davis, ClemsonC Ahofitu Maka, UTSADT Junior Tafuna, Utah
DT Gervon Dexter, FloridaDT Scott Matlock, Boise StateDT Leonard Taylor, Miami
C Trevor Downing, Iowa StateOT Jordan McFadden, ClemsonOT Kadeem Telfort, UAB
DT Cory Durden, N.C. StateC Manase Mose, North TexasOT Joe Tippmann, Wisconsin
DT Justin Eboigbe, AlabamaDT Myles Murphy, North CarolinaOT O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida
G Emil Ekiyor, AlabamaDT PJ Mustipher, Penn StateDT Tuli Tuipulotu, USC
DT Ikenna Enechukwu, RiceOT Zion Nelson, MiamiC Alama Uluave, San Diego State
G Warren Ericson, GeorgiaC Drake Nugent, StanfordG Andrew Vorhees, USC
OT Alfred Edwards, Utah StateOT Dylan O’Quinn, CincinnatiOT Carter Warren, Pitt
C Alex Forsyth, OregonOT John Ojukwu, Boise StateDT Daymond Williams, Buffalo
OT Blake Freeland, BYUC Olusegun Oluwatimi, MichiganOT Dylan Wonnum, South Carolina
OT Aaron Frost, NevadaOT Alex Palczewski, IllinoisG Hunter Woodard, Oklahoma State
C Jacob Gall, BaylorC Jarrett Patterson, Notre DameG Zak Zinter, Michigan
OT Connor Galvin, BaylorOT Patrick Paul, Houston 

Tackles, guards and centers are eligible for consideration; Candidates may be added or removed during the season.

The Outland Trophy winner is chosen from three finalists who are a part of the annual FWAA All-America Team. The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the entire membership, selects a 26-man first team and eventually the three Outland finalists. Committee members, then by individual ballot, select the winner. Only interior linemen on offense or defense are eligible for the award; ends are not eligible.

The Outland Trophy is the third-oldest major college football award. Created in 1946 when Dr. John Outland presented the FWAA with a financial contribution to initiate the award, the Outland Trophy has been given to the best interior lineman in college football ever since. Dr. Outland, an All-American at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1890s, eventually took up practice in Kansas City, Mo. An avid outdoorsman, Dr. Outland believed linemen did not get the credit they deserved and wanted an award to recognize them.

The Outland Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses college football’s most prestigious awards. The NCFAA’s 25 awards have honored more than 800 recipients since 1935. Visit NCFAA.org for more information.

The members of the NCFAA are unveiling preseason watch lists over a two-week period. Sixteen of the association’s 25 awards are presenting their preseason watch list during this time as the NCFAA has spearheaded a coordinated effort to promote each award’s preseason candidates. Following is the remaining 2022 preseason watch list calendar:

  • Wed., July 27: Lou Groza Award/Ray Guy Award
  • Thurs., July 28: Hornung Award/Wuerffel Trophy
  • Fri., July 29: Walter Camp Award
  • Mon., Aug. 1: Bednarik Award