Outland Trophy semifinalists to be announced Thursday in Omaha Reply

OMAHA — The Greater Omaha Sports Committee officially will announce six or seven 2017 Outland Trophy semifinalists on Thursday at The Old Mattress Factory, Downtown, 501 N 13th St. Doors open at 6:00 p.m.

The Outland Trophy Presentation Banquet emcee, Greg Sharpe, Voice of the Huskers, will double as the  master of ceremonies for the semifinalist reception. The Outland Trophy Presentation Banquet will be held in Omaha for the 21st straight year on Jan, 10.

A number of familiar faces from the Omaha sports community are expected to attend the semifinalist reception, including FWAA Past President Tom Shatel of the Omaha World-Herald and members of the Outland Trophy Award Dinner Committee, Rotary Club of Omaha-Downtown and the Greater Omaha Sports Committee. Former Husker football greats  will also be in attendance, including Larry Jacobson, Calvin Jones and several others.

Tickets for the reception ($15.00) are on sale now and may be purchased on-line. Paste this link into your browser https://www.eventbrite.com/e/outland-trophy-semi-finalist-announcement-reception-tickets-38149269492?aff=eand.

The three Outland Trophy finalists will be announced on Nov. 22 (ESPNU), The winner of the 72nd Annual Outland Trophy will be revealed on the evening of Dec. 7 (ESPN).

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Armed Forces Merit Award presentation at Kansas State Reply

Kansas State President Richard Myers (center) hoists the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writer’s Association of America after receiving the honor Saturday from FWAA Past President Blair Kerkhoff (second from the right) and Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl Executive Director Brant Ringler (right). Lieutenant Colonel John Meredith (left) from Fort Riley and Kansas State Athletics Director Gene Taylor look on during the presentation during the Wildcat’s game against West Virginia at Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan.

2017 Armed Forces Merit Award goes to Kansas State Reply

Armed Forces Merit Award

FORT WORTH, Teas – Kansas State has been named the sixth recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award, presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).The partnership of the Kansas State football team with the Iron Rangers has created a bond between the university and the United States Army post at Fort Riley. Coordinated by the staff at the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA was created in June 2012 “to honor an individual and/or a group with a military background and/or involvement that has an impact within the realm of college football.”

Brant Ringler, the Executive Director of the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, and David Jones, the FWAA’s president, announced here Thursday selection of the Kansas State football team as the 2017 recipient during an 11 a.m. (CT) teleconference. Ringler will also be present Saturday at the Wildcat’s game versus West Virginia in Manhattan to officially present the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA.

A seven-person committee made up of FWAA members and Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl officials selected Kansas State from a list of 38 nominations for the 2017 award. U. S. Marine veteran Steven Rhodes, a defensive end at Middle Tennessee State University, was honored last November as the fifth recipient of Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA.

Nate Boyer of the University of Texas was named the initial recipient of the award in 2012 followed by Brandon McCoy of the University of North Texas in 2013, Daniel Rodriguez from Clemson University in 2014 and Bret Robertson of Westminster College (Fulton, Mo.) in 2015. All four individuals were U. S. Army veterans before playing college football.

“We are pleased to join with the Football Writers Association of America to honor the Kansas State football program as the sixth recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award,” said Ringler. “We had a list of 38 outstanding nominations for this year’s award and it is difficult to honor only one each year when we have individuals and programs that are very deserving of the honor.”

Jones echoed Ringler’s sentiments along with adding that the FWAA is “pleased to team with Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl to recognize Kansas State’s involvement with the Iron Rangers at Fort Riley. The FWAA also salutes the other 2017 nominations for their contributions on-and-off the field of play.”

A nominee for the Armed Forces Merit Award since 2013, the Kansas State football team has been a finalist for the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl and FWAA recognition the past two years. The Kansas State relationship with Fort Riley started in 2006 when Lt. Col. Patrick Frank approached former Wildcat coach Ron Prince about partnering his soldiers with the Kansas State student-athletes. The partnership has continued with legendary Wildcat coach Bill Snyder.

“We are so very honored to receive the 2017 Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA in recognition of our passionate, long and on-going relationship with For. Riley and the Big Red 1,” said Snyder. “We have such great respect for our armed services and the amazing sacrifices they make for all of us and are so fortunate to live in this country. The interaction Sean, I and our players have with the men of Fort Riley has left a lasting impact on our lives.”

Kansas State Athletics Director Gene Taylor added that “the partnerships that each of our athletic teams have with Fort Riley, including our football team, are a special and unique component of the experience that we provide all of our student-athletes at our school. Both groups have an immense respect for what each does, and it is a tremendous honor for our student-athletes to build relationships and greater understanding of the work and lifestyles of our service men and women, all whom have sacrificed so much for our country.”

In addition to hosting joint workouts, Snyder and his son, associate head coach Sean Snyder, have attended deployment and return ceremonies for the troops at Fort Riley, and they post newsletters from the regiment in the locker room. For each home game, Wildcat team captains carry the Iron Rangers and Big Red Ones Flags out onto the field as two members of the Iron Rangers bring the flags each week and watch the game from the sideline.

“Our guys – and I didn’t realize this at first – they carried names and faces of those guys around. When the Fort Riley troops were over in Afghanistan, the players were looking at the newsletters, and they were concerned about the soldiers’ well-being,” Sean Snyder said.

While many college football teams have a military appreciation day with an appearance by the color guard and a section of soldiers in the stands, K-State takes the tribute game to a higher level. At Kansas State’s annual “Fort Riley Day” game, more than 1,000 soldiers and family members have been treated to a pregame tailgate party with free food and beer and donated tickets.

The school’s football team also has attended physical training and spent a day in the life of a soldier. The Wildcats have recorded numerous videos and written cards to be shared with the unit through their deployments. The Fort Riley troops in return spend personal time with K-State coaching and support staffs.

The partnership between Fort Riley and the football team also has impacted other sports on the Manhattan campus. Each of the university’s sports have paired with a designated unit on campus to begin their own partnerships and support systems.

In an extensive 2013 article in the Kansas City Star Magazine, titled “K-State athletes and Fort Riley soldiers join forces,” Cindy Hoedel wrote that “the football partnership helped start a bigger relationship between the university and Fort Riley in 2008. What separates the K-State/Fort Riley partnership from military outreach programs at other universities is support from the top leaders of each institution.”

Hoedel’s article mentioned a visit to troops in Iraq in 2010 by Kansas State President Kirk Schulz and three faculty members. The group flew by Black Hawk helicopters and traveled by mine-resistant vehicles as they lived in troop housing for five days to see what the soldiers were experiencing.

“I don’t know how many university presidents have flown to Iraq,” said former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers, a Kansas State alum, current university president and a retired four-star general in the Air Force. “That speaks volumes.”

The Star Magazine article noted that other universities and colleges near military bases, Louisville, Texas-San Antonio, Syracuse and San Diego State, have approached Kansas State to learn how its military partnership works. Interest is also on the military side.

ESPN Events

ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a large portfolio of 31 collegiate sporting events worldwide. The roster includes three Labor Day weekend college football games; FCS opening-weekend game; 14 college bowl games, 11 college basketball events and two college award shows, which accounts for approximately 300-plus hours of programming, reaches almost 64 million viewers and attracts over 700,000 attendees each year. With satellite offices in Albuquerque, Birmingham, Boca Raton, Boise, Dallas-Fort Worth, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Montgomery and St. Petersburg, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans.

ESPN Events also manages the Big 12 Corporate Partner Program.

Collegiate Football

AdvoCare Texas Kickoff (Houston); Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl (Florida); Bahamas Bowl (Nassau); Birmingham Bowl (Alabama); Boca Raton Bowl (Florida); Camping World Kickoff (Orlando, Fla.); Celebration Bowl (Atlanta); Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Boise); Frisco Bowl (Frisco, Texas); Gildan New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque); Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff (Montgomery, Ala.); Hawai’i Bowl (Honolulu); Las Vegas Bowl (Nevada); Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth); MEAC/SWAC Challenge (Baton Rouge, La.); Raycom Media Camellia Bowl (Montgomery, Ala.); Texas Bowl (Houston); The Home Depot College Football Awards (Atlanta) and Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth)

Collegiate Basketball

AdvoCare Invitational (Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla.); Armed Forces Classic (Ramstein Air Base, Germany); College Basketball Awards Presented by Wendy’s (Los Angeles); Gildan Charleston Classic (South Carolina); Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic (Honolulu); Jimmy V Men’s Classic presented by Corona (New York City); Jimmy V Women’s Classic presented by Corona (Hartford, Conn.); NIT Season Tip-Off (Brooklyn, N.Y.); PK80 presented by State Farm (Portland, Ore.); Puerto Rico Tip-Off (San Juan); State Farm Champions Classic (Chicago) and Wooden Legacy (Fullerton, Calif.)

For more information, visit the official website, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube pages.

Media Contacts

Tim Simmons, Armed Forces Merit Award Coordinator at 720/244-650 or bfishinc@aol.com

Steve Richardson, Football Writers Association of America at 214/870-6516 or tiger@fwaa.com

Bryan Delgado, Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl at 817/810-0266 or bryan.delgado@espn.com

Kenny Lannou, Senior Associate A.D. for Communications and Public Relations, K-State Athletics, 785/532-7977 (office), 785/587-7867 (mobile), klannou@kstatesports.com

Anna Negron, ESPN Media, 860-766-2233, anna.m.negron@espn.com

Finalists for the 2017 Armed Forces Merit Award revealed Reply

Fort Worth, Texas, November 7 — Led by the Kansas State football  program, the finalists have been named for the 2017 Armed Forces Merit  Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).

A nominee for the Armed Forces Merit Award since 2013, the Kansas  State football team has been a finalist for the  Lockheed Martin Armed  Forces Bowl and FWAA recognition the past two years.

The Kansas State relationship with Fort Riley started in 2006 when Lt. Col. Patrick Frank approached former Wildcat coach Ron Prince about partnering his  soldiers with the Kansas State student-athletes.  The partnership has  continued with legendary Wildcat coach Bill Snyder.

Other finalists for the 2017 Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA, are Jose Renderoskeiffer, a Navy veteran and a graduate  linebacker at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Rory Coleman, an Army veteran and senior defensive lineman at the University of Central Florida, and Dr. Chris Howard, a retired Air Force reserve lieutenant  colonel and the President at Robert Morris University.  Dr. Howard  also serves as a member of the College Football Playoff selection committee.

Coordinated by the staff at the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA was created in June 2012 “to honor an individual and/or a group with a military background and/or involvement that has an impact within the realm of college  football.”

With 38 nominations considered this fall, the award’s  selection committee of five FWAA members and two representatives from the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl will determine the 2017  recipient.

Marine veteran Steven Rhodes, a defensive end at Middle Tennessee  State University where he competed four seasons for the Blue Raiders, was honored last November as the fifth recipient of Armed Forces Merit  Award presented by the FWAA.

Nate Boyer of the University of Texas was named the initial recipient of the award in 2012 followed by Brandon McCoy of the University of North Texas in 2013, Daniel Rodriguez from Clemson University in 2014 and Bret Robertson of Westminster College (Fulton, Mo.) in 2015.  All four individuals were U. S. Army veterans before playing college
football.

NFF and College Football Hall of Fame On-Campus Salute

Boston College nose tackle Mike Ruth (right), the 1985 Outland Trophy
winner, was presented an award by Matthew Sign, the COO of the
National Football Foundation, during the Eagles’ 35-3 victory over Florida State last Friday night in Chestnut Hill, Mass. Ruth will become the 40th Outland Trophy winner to enter the College Football
Hall of Fame during the NFF Dinner on Dec. 5 in New York.

38 Armed Forces Merit Award nominations announced

Fort Worth, Texas  A total of six collegiate players, one college president, 14 college coaches, 12 college and university administrators, two college referees and three programs have been nominated for the 2017 Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).

Coordinated by the staff at the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, the Armed Forces Merit Award was created in June 2012 “to honor an individual and/or a group with a military background and/or involvement that has an impact within the realm of college football.”

With 38 nominations to be considered, the award’s selection committee of five FWAA members and two representatives from the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl will determine the 2017 recipient. Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl Executive Director Brant Ringler and FWAA President David Jones of the PA Media Group (Downingtown, Pa.) will make the announcement the week of Nov. 5.

Steven Rhodes, a defensive lineman at Middle Tennessee State University and four-year letterman for the Blue Raiders, was the 2016 recipient. Nate Boyer of the University of Texas was the initial recipient in 2012. Other honorees have been Brandon McCoy of the University of North Texas in 2013, Daniel Rodriguez from Clemson University in 2014 and Bret Robertson of Westminster College (Fulton, Mo.) in 2015.

Programs

  • Kyle Boyd, Sophomore fullback, Baylor University (U. S. Marine Corps)
  • Ben Brickman, Junior wide receiver, Syracuse University (Marine Corps)
  • Rory Coleman, Senior defensive lineman, University of Central Florida (U. S. Army)
  • Christian Hill, Senior defensive lineman, Arizona State University (U. S. Air Force)
  • Damian Jackson, Freshman defensive lineman, University of Nebraska (U. S. Navy)
  • Jose Renderoskeiffer, Graduate linebacker, Fairleigh Dickinson University (U. S. Navy)
  • College Football Playoff
  • Dr. Chris Howard, President, Robert Morris University (U. S. Air Force)

Football Staff

  • Troy Calhoun, Head Coach, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Jake Campbell, Assistant Backfield, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Lt. Col. Robert Green, Cornerbacks, United States Naval Academy (U. S. Marine Corps)
  • Steed Lobotzke, Offensive Line, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Ben Miller, Running Backs/Special Teams Coordinator, United State Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Maj. Dylan Newman, Defensive Assistant/Senior Military Rep., United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • GySgt. Tim Owens, Assistant Director of Player Development, United States Naval Academy (U. S. Marine Corps)
  • John Rudzinski, Secondary, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Steve Russ, Assistant Head Coach/Def. Coordinator/Defensive Backs, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Mike Thiessen, Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Jim Turner, Offensive Line Coach, Texas A&M University (U. S. Marine Corps)
  • Mike Viti, Assistant Football Coach/Fullback, United States Military Academy (U. S. Army)
  • Maj. Ross Weaver, Assistant Offensive Line Coach, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Mick Yokitis, Wide Receivers, United States Naval Academy (U. S. Navy)

Football Support Staff

  • Jordan Simmons, Strength & Conditioning, Nevada (U. S. Army)
  • Rusty Whitt, Strength & Conditioning, Texas Tech University (U. S. Army)
  • College & University Administration
  • Col. Jon Aytes, Officer Representative, United States Naval Academy (U. S. Marine Corps)
  • Cmdr. H. Lamont Gourdine, Deputy Director of Athletics (Military), United States Naval Academy (U.S. Navy)
  • Cmdr. Kevin Haney, Faculty Representative, United States Naval Academy (U. S. Navy)
  • Brian Hill, Vice Director of Athletics, United State Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Jim Knowlton, Director of Athletics, United State Air Force Academy (U. S. Army)
  • Lance E. LeClere, Orthopedic Surgeon, United States Naval Academy (U. S. Navy)
  • LTC John Nawoichyk, Assistant AD/Military Operations, United States Military Academy (U. S. Army)
  • Capt. Scott Pyne, M.D., Team Physician, United States Naval Academy (U. S. Navy)
  • Steve Senn, Director of Recruiting and Player Personnel, United State Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Capt. Ryan Tully, Military Liaison, United States Naval Academy (U. S. Marine Corps)
  • Referees
  • Raymond Daniel, Official, Mid-American Conference (Army National Guard)
  • Steve Thielen, Official, Mid-American Conference (U. S. Army)

2017 Best Feature: John Crist

By John Crist

Saturday Down South

My phone rings. The caller ID reads “Dak Prescott.” He’s getting back to me shortly after I left him a message. Turns out he was in the middle of a workout. He’s still out of breath.

It’s Monday. I’m in Tampa. He’s in Orlando. But by Wednesday, we’ll both be in Indianapolis for the Scouting Combine — the annual meat market for college players ahead of the NFL Draft. I’ll be there as a member of the media. Prescott, of course, is a prospect following a spectacular career at Mississippi State.

He’s the best quarterback ever to play in Starkville, and he may just be the single best player in school history. Prescott elevated a mediocre program in a brutal conference to heights never seen before.

Nevertheless, when the draft experts go through the list of top QBs, his name isn’t mentioned. Jared Goff of California, Carson Wentz of North Dakota State — yes, FCS-level NDSU — and Paxton Lynch of Memphis are considered the first-tier passers. Prescott is a second-tier guy alongside the likes of Michigan State’s Connor Cook and Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg.

He’s currently projected as a mid-round pick. But if Prescott is worried, he hides it well. He sounds authentic and confident without an iota of cockiness.

“(Other quarterbacks) are going to get their hype,” he says. “Just going to camps, even the combine, I don’t know that I’ll make people drop their pen and drop their jaw and say, ‘We’ve got to get this guy first off the board.’ That hasn’t been the player I’ve been all my life.”

More…

2017 Best Enterprise: David Ching

By David Ching
ESPN.com

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — When they received word that UAB football was coming back, Lee Dufour and Nick Vogel — best friends and former roommates at the school — could not wait to share the news with each other.

Unfortunately, they heard about it at the exact same time.

“Literally the second that they announced football’s coming back, I called him and at the same time, he called me. The calls didn’t go through,” Dufour said, recalling the moment last June when UAB reversed its decision from December 2014 to drop its football program. “I was like, ‘Yes, we have to go back. Whatever we have to go through, we’re coming back.'”

Added Vogel: “We were both going nuts trying to call each other. We both missed a couple calls in a row until we got ahold of each other. We were overjoyed.”

Both players had found new college football programs after UAB’s implosion: offensive lineman Dufour at South Alabama and kicker Vogel at Southern Miss. And yet they missed the friendships and connections that formed in their short time in Birmingham.

They had promised each other they would return to UAB if it ever reinstated the football program, and this was the opportunity many thought would never come.

“That was my primary plan in life: it’s going to come back and I’m going to leave this place and go back to my home in Birmingham,” Vogel said. “I know that sounds completely insane, but when I made the deal with Lee, I was 100 percent behind it. I genuinely thought it would come back.”

Dufour and Vogel are among 16 players from the 2014 team who were back at UAB in time for its recently completed spring practice. However, many of their 2014 teammates with eligibility remaining did not return.

More…

2017 Best Game Story: Andrea Adelson

By Andrea Adelson
ESPN.com

TAMPA, Fla. — The game clock showed 2:01. Deshaun Watson gathered his teammates and told them simply, “We’re going to get this touchdown. We’re going to win this national championship.”

Nobody on that sideline doubted. Not with Watson under center. Everybody wearing orange and purple firmly believed they had the best player in the country on their side, Heisman or no Heisman. They reminded everybody: Heismans are voted on; championships are won.

This would be it for him, on the last drive, in his last game.

“I’d seen the two minutes and one second on the clock, and I just smiled and I just knew,” Watson said after Monday’s title game. “I told myself, ‘They left too much time on the clock.'”

First play, pass complete. Second play, pass complete. Down the field they went, a march toward inevitability. When Watson arrived at Clemson in January 2013, he tweeted, “Me. In a National Championship Game. I’m just waiting on that moment.”

It came on first-and-goal at the Alabama 2. The play call came in: Crush. Watson would roll out and go to receiver Hunter Renfrow in the flat.

“We knew that play was going to work,” Clemson receiver Mike Williams said. “When you want it the most, you go out with your best call. We knew that was our best call.”

The play call was brilliant. So was its execution.

“I saw the whole play develop, and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, wide open,'” Tigers defensive lineman Christian Wilkins said. “I’m on field goal unit, so I sprinted right onto the field as Deshaun was throwing it. I knew it was game. One second left. It was beautiful timing.” More…

2017 FWAA Best Writing Contest winners announced

DALLAS — Three writers — Alex Scarborough and Jake Trotter of ESPN.com and Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports — each claimed two individual awards and Glenn Guilbeau of USA TODAY Network/Gannett Louisiana repeated as a first-place winner in the 25th Annual FWAA Best Writing Contest.

ESPN.com writers collected 10 individual or co-bylined awards, including 1-2-3 sweeps in the Game Story and Enterprise categories.

First-place winners will receive game balls, certificates and cash prizes. Second and third-place winners will get certificates and cash prizes. Honorable mention award recipients will receive certificates. All will be recognized at the annual FWAA Awards Breakfast on Jan. 8, 2018 in Atlanta.

GAME

First Place — Andrea Adelson, ESPN.com

Second Place — Alex Scarborough, ESPN.com

Third Place — Jake Trotter, ESPN.com

Honorable Mention — John Feinstein, Washington Post; Dennis Dodd, CBS Sports; Matt Fortuna, ESPN.com; Rich Scarcella, Reading Eagle

FEATURES

First Place —  John Crist, Saturday Down South

Second Place — Mike Vorel, South Bend (Ind.) Tribune

Third Place —  Nate Mink, The Post-Standard (Syracuse, N.Y.)/Syracuse.com

Honorable Mention —  Alex Scarborough, ESPN.com; Jake Trotter, ESPN.com;  Daniel Uthman, USA TODAY

COLUMNS

First Place — Glenn Guilbeau, USA TODAY Network/Gannett Louisiana

Second Place — J.P. Scott, Athlon Sports

Third Place — Ryan McGee, ESPN.com

Honorable Mention — Matt Hayes, Bleacher Report; Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com

ENTERPRISE

First Place — David Ching, ESPN.com

Second Place — Mark Schlabach and Paula Lavigne, ESPN.com

Third Place — Kyle Bonagura and Mark Fainaru-Wada, ESPN.com

Honorable Mention — Harry B. Minium Jr., Norfolk Virginian-Pilot; Dennis Dodd, CBS Sports; Pete Thamel, Sports Illustrated; Michael Casagrande,  AL.com/Alabama Media Group; Jack Ebling and Joe Rexrode, Dog Ear Publishing; Andrew Greif, The Oregonian