2021 Outland Trophy watch list announced

DALLAS — The Football Writers Association of America has announced the preseason watch list for the 2021 Outland Trophy, recognizing 80 returning standout interior linemen representing all 10 Division I FBS conferences and independents. The 2021 season continues a celebration of the award’s 75th anniversary and the watch list presents a talented field of players to accompany three returning FWAA All-Americans.

The recipient of the 2021 Outland Trophy will be announced on The Home Depot College Football Awards, live on ESPN in December. 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. 12, 2022.

Kenyon Green, a 2020 Outland semifinalist as a first-team FWAA All-American offensive guard at Texas A&M last year, tops the list as the only first-team interior lineman to return. The Aggies, who also have defensive tackle McKinnley Jackson on the list, are one of 18 teams to have at least two players on the watch list. One other returning All-American, Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum highlights the top returning interior linemen. Linderbaum was a second-team selection a year ago.

Five schools boast three selections each, including two of last year’s College Football Playoff qualifiers in Clemson and Ohio State. Two of Clemson’s are defensive tackles, Bryan Bresee and Tyler Davis, along with offensive tackle Jordan McFadden, are touted. Ohio State’s offensive line is bolstered by tackles Thayer Munford and Nicholas Petit-Frere and its defense features tackle Haskell Garrett.

Boston College, which pairs with Clemson to give the Atlantic Coast Conference six of its national-best 14 players, has center Alec Lindstrom in between guard Zion Johnson and offensive tackle Tyler Vrabel. Oklahoma’s high-powered offense has guards Tyrese Robinson and Marquis Hayes and a third member, Perrion Winfrey at defensive tackle. Georgia is the only SEC school with a trio of players – guards Jamaree Salyer and Justin Shaffer, and defensive tackle Jordan Davis.

After the ACC, the Big Ten boasts 13 selections spread among nine different schools and the SEC has 11 total from seven schools. Defending national champion Alabama is represented by a tackle on each side of the ball, Evan Neal on offense and Phidarian Mathis on defense. Alabama offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood won the 2020 Outland Trophy before departing to the NFL as the 17th overall selection in the draft by the Las Vegas Raiders.

Two members of last season’s FWAA Freshman All-America team, Northwestern offensive tackle Peter Skoronski and Tulsa offensive tackle Tyler Smith, are also on the watch list, which includes 26 offensive tackles, 26 guards, 16 centers and 13 defensive tackles.

2021 OUTLAND TROPHY PRESEASON WATCH LIST (80)

G Henry Bainivalu, WashingtonC Alec Lindstrom, Boston College
OT Matthew Bedford, IndianaDT Jermayne Lole, Arizona State
G Curtis Blackwell, Ball StateOT Vederian Lowe, Illinois
C Nick Brahms, AuburnOT Abe Lucas, Washington State
DT Bryan Bresee, ClemsonG Cain Madden, Notre Dame
DT C.J. Brewer, Coastal CarolinaDT Phidarian Mathis, Alabama
OT Nick Broeker, Ole MissOT Jordan McFadden, Clemson
G Logan Bruss, WisconsinC Mike Miranda, Penn State
OT Spencer Burford, UTSAOT Thayer Munford, Ohio State
C Mike Caliendo, Western MichiganOT Evan Neal, Alabama
G Trey Carter, Coastal CarolinaOT Zion Nelson, Miami
DT Will Choloh, TroyC Colin Newell, Iowa State
DT Nolan Cockrill, ArmyG Conner Olson, Minnesota
C Keegan Cryder, WyomingG Dylan Parham, Memphis
DT Jordan Davis, GeorgiaG Jarrett Patterson, Notre Dame
DT Tyler Davis, ClemsonOT Nicholas Petit-Frere, Ohio State
C Dawson Deaton, Texas TechOT Colby Ragland, UAB
G Corey Dublin, TulaneG Tyrese Robinson, Oklahoma
G Ikem Ekwonu, N.C. StateOT Walter Rouse, Stanford
C Nathan Eldridge, Oregon StateG Jamaree Salyer, Georgia
C James Empey, BYUG Cole Schneider, UCF
G Joshua Ezeudu, North CarolinaG Derek Schweiger, Iowa State
C Alex Forsyth, OregonG Justin Shaffer, Georgia
OT Jake Fuzak, BuffaloG Josh Sills, Oklahoma State
DT Haskell Garrett, Ohio StateOT Peter Skoronski, Northwestern
C Grant Gibson, N.C. StateOT Tyler Smith, Tulsa
G Shamarious Gilmore, Georgia StateOT Jack Snyder, San Jose State
OT Kenyon Green, Texas A&MG Jake Stetz, Boise State
C Bryce Harris, ToledoDT Dante Stills, West Virginia
G Marquis Hayes, OklahomaOT Jaylon Thomas, SMU
C Brock Hoffman, Virginia TechOT Zachary Thomas, San Diego State
OT Jarrett Horst, Michigan StateOT Zach Tom, Wake Forest
C Baer Hunter, App StateG O’Cyrus Torrence, Louisiana
G Ed Ingram, LSUDT Raymond Vohasek, North Carolina
DT McKinnley Jackson, Texas A&MOT Tyler Vrabel, Boston College
G Zion Johnson, Boston CollegeOT Rasheed Walker, Penn State
OT Darian Kinnard, KentuckyOT Sidney Wells, UAB
OT Jaxson Kirkland, WashingtonC Dohnovan West, Arizona State
C Doug Kramer, IllinoisOT Jarrid Williams, Miami
C Tyler Linderbaum, IowaDT Perrion Winfrey, Oklahoma

By conference: ACC 14, Big Ten 13, SEC 11, Big 12 8, Pac-12 8, Sun Belt 6, American Athletic 5, Independents 4, Mid-American 4, Mountain West 4, Conference USA 3.

By position: Offensive Tackles 27, Offensive Guards 25, Centers 16, Defensive Tackles 13.

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, celebrating 75 years since its founding, 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 the most prestigious awards in college football. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 25 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org and @NCFAA on Twitter to learn more about the association.

The members of the NCFAA are unveiling preseason watch lists over a 10-day period this month. 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 2021 preseason watch list calendar:

Wed., July 28: Lou Groza Award/Ray Guy Award
Thu., July 29: Hornung Award/Wuerffel Trophy
Fri., July 30: Maxwell Award

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of 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.

Related links:
• All-time Outland Trophy winners, candidates
• Download 75th Anniversary Outland Trophy logo: Primary (.jpg) | Dark background (.jpg) | Illustrator (.ai)

Outland Trophy history: Offensive tackle Brandon Scherff, Iowa, 2014 recipient

This is the ninth in a series of stories on Outland Trophy winners from 2006 to 2020.  From 1946 to 2005, the first 60 Outland Trophy winners were profiled in the book 60 Years of the Outland Trophy by Gene Duffey. In celebration of the Outland Trophy’s 75th Anniversary we are catching up with the last 15 recipients.

(OL Brandon Scherff was selected fifth overall in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Washington Football Team. The unanimous All-American in college at offensive tackle has been an outstanding guard in the NFL and a four-time Pro Bowler. He has started 78 games for Washington.)

                                               Gene Duffey, Author

Ask a football coach what makes a good offensive lineman and he will inevitably say “good feet” as part of his response.

What exactly are good feet? And how do you get them?

Brandon Scherff, the 2014 Outland winner from Iowa, developed his feet by playing other sports, and other positions, before landing at offensive left tackle his last three years in Iowa City.

“You have to move your feet fast and well,” said Scherff. “Every (sport) you play helps.”

Scherff’s older brother, Justin, was a good tennis player and went on to play at Central College, a Division III school in Pella, Iowa. Brandon played tennis through his freshman year of high school in Denison, Iowa, before time restraints made him give up the sport.

“If he would have stayed with tennis his sophomore year, he would have been our No. 1 player,” Denison football coach Dave Wiebers told Darren Miller of Hawkeyesports.com.

Scherff averaged a double-double in basketball, leading Denison to back-to-back 17-6 records his junior and senior years. Footwork is especially important when you are playing on the block in basketball. He also excelled in track, competing in the shot put and discus.

Reese Morgan, an Iowa assistant, first spotted Scherff throwing the shot as a sophomore. Scherff won the state meet. Of course, his feet were an important factor for both events.

“He didn’t have the best technique, but he had a strong will,” said Morgan.

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Outland Trophy history: Defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh, 2013 recipient

This is the eighth in a series of stories on Outland Trophy winners from 2006 to 2020.  From 1946 to 2005, the first 60 Outland Trophy winners were profiled in the book 60 Years of the Outland Trophy by Gene Duffey. In celebration of the Outland Trophy’s 75th Anniversary we are catching up with the last 15 recipients.

Aaron Donald became the fourth player to receive the Outland Trophy and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy in the same season. The much-decorated defensive tackle was selected by the St. Louis Rams with the 13th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. The perennial All-Pro has played his entire career with the Rams, now relocated back in Los Angeles.

 By Gene Duffey, Author

Everyone east of Tom Hanks knows there’s no crying in baseball. So there definitely can’t be any crying in football.

You’re certainly not allowed to shed a tear if you play on the line of scrimmage, where the tougher you are, the better you are.

But it happened on Oct. 15, 2011, to a defensive tackle who would go on to claim the Outland Trophy. Pitt’s Aaron Donald, the 2013 Outland Trophy recipient, admitted he cried that day.

Donald surprised himself that afternoon in his sophomore season. It was the seventh game of the year, a home matchup with Utah. Donald had played regularly as a backup his freshman year and become a starter as a sophomore.

He played well through the first six games. Nothing exceptional. He was on his way to becoming a good player. Not a great one.

Donald changed his path that day against the Utes. He made nine tackles, 3 ½ of them sacks. He was no longer just another player. Aaron Donald was on his way to greatness.

“After that game I went to my dorm room and just busted out crying,” allowed Donald. “I was so happy with myself. Against a good team. I was just overwhelmed.”

Donald didn’t even need to watch the highlights on television. He remembered every one of them. “I kept playing the game over and over in my mind,” he said. “I was making the same plays I was in high school. From that point on I was playing that way the rest of the season. I knew what I needed to do. It just boosted my confidence.”

Paul Chryst, the Pitt head coach for Donald’s junior and senior seasons in 2012-13, wasn’t surprised when he heard the story.  Chryst later became the Wisconsin head coach.

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Outland Trophy history: Offensive tackle Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M, 2012 recipient

This is the seventh in a series of stories on Outland Trophy winners from 2006-2020.  From 1946-2005, the first 60 Outland Trophy winners were profiled in the book 60 Years of the Outland Trophy by Gene Duffey. In celebration of the Outland Trophy’s 75th Anniversary we are catching up with the last 15 recipients.

(Luke Joeckel came out a year early and made himself eligible for the 2013 NFL Draft.  Selected No. 2 overall by Jacksonville, he wound up starting 39 games on the offensive line for the Jaguars from 2013-2016. He started 11 games for Seattle during the 2017 season after he signed a free-agent contract with the Seahawks. Joeckel retired from pro football after the 2017 season and went back to school. He received his business degree from Texas A&M in 2019 and is now in private business.)   

By Gene Duffey, Author

Luke Joeckel had never seen anything like it. The Texas A&M buses were returning from the airport to the Bright Complex on campus near midnight. Joeckel expected a bunch of students to be there greeting the team, but nothing like this.

“When we got off the bus we were swarmed,” said Joeckel. “It was total madness. It was the craziest experience of my life.”

Thousands awaited the triumphant Aggies return from Tuscaloosa where they had beaten Alabama, the nation’s No. 1 team and defending national champion, 29-24.

The way the upset unfolded made the victory even more dramatic. A&M raced to a 20-0 lead after one quarter. “Just going in there, with 102,000, and jumping on them like that was incredible,” said Joeckel. “I can’t ever describe it.”

But the Aggies needed Deshazor Everett’s interception of a fourth-down Alabama pass at the goal line to preserve the win. Texas A&M had proven conclusively that it could compete in the Southeastern Conference.

The Aggies announced Sept. 26, 2011 they were officially leaving the Big 12 to join the SEC. “I was definitely excited about the challenge,” Joeckel said of joining college football’s most dominant conference.

Then Joeckel went to the SEC Media Days in August 2012 in Birmingham, Alabama

“It was hard to listen to all the doubters,” he said. “No one gave us a chance. We were picked to finish 12th (out of 14 teams), I think. It’s all a bunch of stuff I wasn’t expecting. We knew what kind of team we had, and we had a chance to win every game.”

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Outland Trophy history: Offensive lineman Barrett Jones, Alabama, 2011 recipient

This is the sixth in a series of stories on Outland Trophy winners from 2006 to 2020.  From 1946 to 2005, the first 60 Outland Trophy winners were profiled in the book 60 Years of the Outland Trophy by Gene Duffey. In celebration of the Outland Trophy’s 75th Anniversary we are catching up with the last 15 recipients.

(Barrett Jones was drafted in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the then St. Louis Rams. He played 10 games with the Rams over two seasons. In 2017, Jones become a broadcaster for ESPN Radio and remains an analyst on the network’s college football and NFL programs. Jones, an Academic All-American at Alabama, claimed the National Football Foundation’s William V. Campbell Trophy, the “Academic Heisman,” and the Wuerffel Trophy, which is awarded to a college football player for his combined athletic, academic and community service.)

By Gene Duffey, Author

It happened when Barrett Jones was only 12. He spent his youth in Germantown, Tenn., a toney suburb of Memphis. His father, Rex, was a successful car dealer.

Rex Jones decided that Barrett, and his other two sons, needed to see life on the other side of the tracks. He wanted them to understand that there were many people in this world who were not as privileged as they were.

In the summer of 2002 Barrett and his family traveled with a group from Bellevue Baptist Church to Honduras.

“We wanted to show them how big the world is and I wanted them to see kids who get up every day trying to find something to eat,” Rex Jones said of his sons. “I wanted them to be givers. That trip really rocked (Barrett’s) world. He realized that the world didn’t circle around him.”

The trip rocked Barrett so much that he decided he wanted to go on another mission. “It was an experience I’ll never forget,” he said. “It opened my eyes to the rest of the world, how fortunate we are in America. It’s something I have a passion for and want to do the rest of life.”

The perfect opportunity arose in 2010 when Haiti suffered a devastating earthquake that killed approximately 300,000 and made another million homeless.

Barrett called his father and told him that he needed to go to Haiti. He passed up a family ski vacation and followed his heart.

Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world, needed help. It needed people like Barrett Jones. He worked in a refugee camp, mostly with kids whose parents had died in the earthquake. He even played the violin (started at age 3), entertaining the kids with hymns and spiritual songs.

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Outland Trophy history: Offensive tackle Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin, 2010 recipient

This is the fifth in a series of stories on Outland Trophy winners from 2006-2020.  From 1946-2005, the first 60 Outland Trophy winners were profiled in the book 60 Years of the Outland Trophy by Gene Duffey. In celebration of the Outland Trophy’s 75th Anniversary we are catching up with the last 15 recipients.

(Wisconsin offensive tackle Gabe Carimi became the second Wisconsin offensive lineman to claim the Outland Trophy during a five-year period. He had 49 starts at left tackle in his four-year college career. Carimi was selected by the Chicago Bears, 29th overall, in the 2011 NFL Draft. He played four seasons in the NFL, two with the Bears and one each for Tampa and Atlanta.)

By Gene Duffey, Author

Early in his career as a Wisconsin Badger Gabe Carimi showed he could follow a legend and do it his way.

The phone call surprised Wisconsin Coach Bret Bielema. Alayne Gardner-Carimi, the mother of Bielema’s redshirt freshman offensive tackle, wanted to talk.

Alayne told Bielema that her son, Gabe, was Jewish and would be fasting before the Iowa game, Sept. 22, for Yom Kippur, the holiest of Jewish holidays. Tradition dictates that Jews fast from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday.

“Thank goodness Iowa’s a night game,” said Alayne.

“It took me by surprise,” said Bielema. “We’ve had a number of Jewish kids on the team. There’s a large Jewish population in Wisconsin.”

The Badgers entered the Iowa game, their Big Ten opener, with 3-0 record. They beat the Hawkeyes, 17-13.

Carimi played. He said that fasting did not affect him. He did eat some bread before taking the field.

“I made that decision on my own,” he said of the decision to fast. “I felt fine.”

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement in the Jewish religion, came into play again during Carimi’s senior year. Once again he fasted for the 24 hours before the Sept. 18 home game vs. Arizona State. The Badgers beat The Sun Devils, 20-19, in Wisconsin’s third game of the season.

A favorite axiom in sports is don’t try to succeed a legend. Carimi did just that at Wisconsin.

Offensive tackle Joe Thomas won the Outland Trophy in 2006, the same year Carimi arrived on campus. Carimi took over at left tackle for Thomas in 2007 as a redshirt freshman and started for four years.

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Outland Trophy history: Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska, 2009 recipient 1

This is the fourth in a series of stories on Outland Trophy winners from 2006-2020.  From 1946-2005, the first 60 Outland Trophy winners were profiled in the book 60 Years of the Outland Trophy by Gene Duffey. In celebration of the Outland Trophy’s 75th Anniversary we are catching up with the last 15 recipients.

(Nebraska Defensive Tackle Ndamukong Suh was the third player to win both the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (Best Defensive Player) and the Outland Trophy during the same season. After being named unanimous All-American in 2009, he was drafted No. 2 overall by the Detroit Lions in the 2010 NFL Draft. A five-time Pro Bowler, he has played for the Lions, Miami, Los Angeles Rams and now Tampa Bay. He has played in two Super Bowls, one with the Rams and this past February for the Buccaneers in their victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.)    

Ndamukong Suh did not play football as a freshman in high school. His mother wouldn’t allow it. She wanted him to emphasize academics over athletics. Bernadette was a teacher in the public schools in Portland, Oregon.

When Ndamukong earned a 3.0 GPA his freshman year at Grant High, Bernadette relented. “I had to prove I could handle my school work first,” said Suh. That was the day a defensive tackle was born.

Suh had attempted to play soccer before football. When he was 12, an opposing coach took his team off the field in protest after four of his players were knocked down by the oversized young boy. Suh was already frustrated with the sport, confused why he was whistled for yellow and red cards when any contact occurred. He figured that football was better suited to his athletic abilities.  

There was an incident in eighth grade that hurt Suh’s reputation. He became involved in a physical altercation with a male teacher. Suh was suspended from school for the final month and a half. The school made “a huge deal out of it,” he said.

“I was by no means wrong,” Suh told Jason Quick of The Oregonian. Suh didn’t realize his own strength. But the incident did give him a new outlook entering high school.

“That kind of opened my eyes to the real world,” he said to Quick. “I realized I just needed to get my act right and get focused, pay attention to things that were in front of me. I had always dreamed of going to college, and saw my sister (Ngum) getting good grades and I decided I was going to follow her. I was going to stop being a hard-headed boy.”

Besides his size and strength, Suh was different from most kids. In the summers he often went to work with his father Michael, an engineer.

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FWAA selects ‘Super 11’ sports information departments for 2020 season

Cotton, Rose bowls and San José State earn special mention as well

DALLAS – The 2020 college football season was unprecedented in the modern era with the effects of COVID-19 disrupting the schedule and forcing sports information departments to alter the ways they conducted business. In an effort to reflect the trying situations, the Football Writers Association of America is honoring departments and individuals who stood out in their performances in getting the job done and others who were nominated by FWAA media members for strong access.

Four first-time recipients – Boston College, North Carolina, Penn State and West Virginia – are included in the 12th Annual Super 11 Awards, which the FWAA gives out annually to the best performing sports information departments in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision.

2020 SUPER 11: Appalachian State, Boston College, Clemson, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas State, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Carolina, Penn State, West Virginia
SPECIAL MERIT: San José State, Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, Rose Bowl Game
COACH OF THE YEAR: T
om Allen, Indiana

The FWAA is also issuing Special Merit Awards to the media information staffs of the Cotton and Rose bowls for their efforts in hosting the Rose Bowl Game in Arlington, Texas, when it had to be moved from Pasadena because of health restrictions in California.

Likewise, San José State receives a Merit Award. The Spartans’ winding road to a banner season included scheduling summer conditioning and preseason workouts around the impacts of climate change, unhealthy air quality index readings and the Northern California wildfires; training 325 miles away from home less than three weeks before the start of the abbreviated season; and providing media services as a host SID in football facilities without spectators at home in San José and in Nevada at Las Vegas’ Sam Boyd Stadium based on local, county and state COVID-19 protocols.

In addition, for the third straight year the FWAA presented a Super 11 Coach of the Year Award. The 2020 recipient is Indiana’s Tom Allen, who granted outstanding access to his program. The Indiana sports information department was also named to the Super 11.

As for the other 10 schools, Penn State was an early leader in virtual access via Zoom calls and continued throughout the season. Similarly, Appalachian State, Boston College, Clemson, Colorado, Kansas State, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Carolina and West Virginia were strong in access to players and coaches.

Colorado’s staff was particularly helpful in helping CoSIDA lay down guidelines for press boxes in 2020 as well as making its FWAA Freshman Coach of the Year Karl Dorrell available. Clemson was lauded for its handling of Trevor Lawrence’s campaign for social justice as well as general transparency on other issues involving the football team.

“This (2020) was a different kind of year, obviously,” FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson said. “We tried to honor schools who went the extra mile in player and coach access remotely in most cases or to help writers in a scrambled season.”

Clemson and Colorado each won for an eighth time. It was Clemson’s sixth straight award and Colorado’s seventh award in eight seasons.

FWAA members who covered college football during the 2020 season provided input. The FWAA’s Press Operations Survey of writers also was beneficial.

In January 2009, the FWAA began the Super 11 Awards. The concept has been supported and endorsed by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), many of whom are members of the FWAA. The FWAA has now awarded Super 11 to 74 different schools in the 12 years of the program.

The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,300 men and women across North America who cover college football for a living. 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, a national poll and its annual All-America teams. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Executive Director Steve Richardson at tiger@fwaa.com or 214-870-6516.

Related link:
• Super 11 Awards (including complete selection criteria)

Outland Tropy history: Defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, LSU, 2007 recipient

This is the second in a series of stories on Outland Trophy winners from 2006-2020.  From 1946-2005, the first 60 of Outland Trophy winners were profiled in the book 60 Years of the Outland Trophy by Gene Duffey. In celebration of the Outland Trophy’s 75th Anniversary we are catching up with the last 15 recipients.  

(Defensive Tackle Glenn Dorsey was the FWAA’s second All-America who claimed both the Nagurski and Outland trophies in the same season. The LSU star was selected fifth overall in the 2008 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. He played five seasons for the Chiefs and four for the San Francisco 49ers. He will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame later this year (2021).  

By Gene Duffey, Author

Glenn Dorsey was not born to be a great athlete. In fact, he wasn’t born to be an athlete at all.

When other kids started playing games, Dorsey could only watch. He couldn’t run. He even had trouble walking. Dorsey, who would win the Outland Trophy as a defensive tackle at LSU in 2007, wanted to join the fun.

“I had a lot of energy,” he said. But he couldn’t do anything with it. “I had to sit on the porch and watch everybody else run around and play hide-and-go-seek.

“I was extremely bow legged. My toes pointed at each other. They made some special type of braces to straighten my legs.”

His mother, Sandra, knew the problem with her son’s legs was only temporary. “I knew he’d be able to do the normal things,” she said. “I just didn’t think he’d be able to accomplish what he did.”

Dorsey wore leg braces for two years. It only made him more determined to catch up – and pass – the other kids when he finally started running.

“I think that helped me become the person I am today, having adversity at a young age,” he said. “I wanted to show the whole world, you can’t let anything get you down.”

When Dorsey began running, there was little doubt in which direction he would go. All the males in his family played sports. “Football is a tradition in my family,” he said.

Dorsey’s father, Glenn Sr., played football in high school. But he grew up in a huge family, which limited his opportunities in sports. When Glenn Sr.’s mother had to take in her sister’s kids, putting 18 children under one roof, Glenn Sr. gave up football to help take care of the younger kids.

Glenn Jr. couldn’t wait to play football. His cousin, Jason Delmore, had played fullback and nose guard at LSU in 1987. Glenn wanted to be just like him.

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Outland Trophy history: Offensive tackle Joe Thomas, Wisconsin, 2006 recipient

This is the first in a series of stories on Outland Trophy winners from 2006-2020.  From 1946-2005, the first 60 of Outland Trophy winners were profiled in the book 60 Years of the Outland Trophy by Gene Duffey. In celebration of the Outland Trophy’s 75th Anniversary we are catching up with the last 15 recipients.  

(Offensive Tackle Joe Thomas played 11 seasons in the National Football League (2007-2017) – ­all with the Cleveland Browns. Considered one of the best linemen in college and NFL history, Thomas went to the Pro Bowl 10 times before retiring following the 2017 season. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2019.)  

By Gene Duffey, Author

Wisconsin was rolling again during the 2006 football season. The Badgers, after a loss at Michigan, had ripped Indiana 52-17 on the road.

Offensive tackle Joe Thomas, who would win the Outland Trophy that year, and his teammates were in a good mood returning to Madison. He shared a house with two other players, cornerback Ben Strickland and deep snapper Steve Johnson.

The trio had been teammates in high school at Brookfield, Wis., about an hour away. The fourth member of their group, Luke Homan, had gone to Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he played basketball for two years, then transferred to Wisconsin-La Crosse.

It was the last weekend of September. There had been an Oktoberfest party in La Crosse and the three Wisconsin players received word that Homan was missing.

“Nobody had heard from him,” said Thomas. “We went up there Sunday morning and spent the whole day looking for him.”

By Sunday night the police brought in the dogs to search for Homan. They traced his scent to the river.

“It kind of hit you,” said Thomas. The three buddies would never see their close friend again. Monday morning police divers found Homan’s body in the river.

Homan and Thomas lived only five minutes apart in Brookfield. They attended different schools but began playing on the same basketball team in third grade. Homan’s father was their coach.

“Losing such a good friend at such a young age was tough,” said Thomas. “I’d never gone through tragedy in my life. (Luke) was an only child. I was close with his parents.”

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