Outland Trophy History: offensive tackle Andre Smith, Alabama, 2008 recipient Reply

This is the third 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.

(Andre Smith became Alabama’s second Outland Trophy recipient when he anchored the offensive line of a 12-2 Alabama team that lost in the SEC title game to Florida and fell to Utah in the Sugar Bowl. He then was selected No. 6 overall in the 2009 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. Besides the Bengals, Smith has played for Minnesota, Arizona and will suit up for a third season for Baltimore this coming fall.)    

By Gene Duffey, Author

Andre Smith’s career at running back could best be described as brief.

He first played football in fifth grade for the Pinson Valley Youth Club in Birmingham, Alabama. He played in the Unlimited Division, facing guys two and three years older. Because of his size, even at that age, Smith was destined to be a lineman. “I was bigger than most people,” he said. “I took it as a positive.”

Smith played for championship teams in Youth leagues and Little League. During one blowout win, he lined up at running back.

“I carried the ball one time and I fumbled,” he remembered. “They had the scrubs in (on the line). I got hit really hard.”

Back to the line.

Smith did well on the defensive line. He collected several quarterback hurries and tackles for losses. But it never quite felt like home.

“I liked offense way more,” he said. “With offense you have the element of surprise.”

Smith helped his middle school teams win titles in seventh and eighth grade, but didn’t get carried away with the success. “I just sat back and chilled,” he said.

When he started on the offensive line as a freshman at Huffman High School in Birmingham college coaches started to notice.

Huffman Coach Curtis Coleman soon began hearing from the recruiters.

“College coaches thought I was a senior when I was a freshman,” said Smith. “They would inquire about me.”

“He’s just a stinking freshman,” Coleman told them.

Huffman won a key game against J.O. Johnson High School in September 2004, Smith’s junior year. Smith literally knocked over the opposition, credited with 18 pancake blocks.

Andre Smith

The game was played two days after Hurricane Ivan struck Alabama, the year before Katrina devastated New Orleans. The hurricane hit Gulf Shores, Alabama as a Category 3. Twenty-five people in the U.S. were killed and total damage was estimated at over $14 billion.

Smith received only modest reviews from the people who count the most. “My coaches told me, ‘Great game,’” he recalled. “That was it. I guess they didn’t want it going to my head.”

Huffman’s teams never enjoyed the type of success that Smith achieved in youth football and middle school. Huffman went 6-5 his freshman year, 7-4 as a sophomore and 6-5 again his junior and senior seasons.

Smith’s team received more notoriety in basketball. Huffman reached the state finals with a team that included Stanley Robinson, who was on his way to Connecticut, and Demant Jimerson, who played basketball at Alabama.

Nationally, everyone knew Andre Smith, the football player.  A 6-foot-4, 325-pound high school offensive lineman became extremely popular.

Rivals.com rated him the fourth best prospect in the country in 2006, ahead of such future starts as Clemson’s C.J. Spiller and Florida’s Tim Tebow.

Everyone in the state of Alabama must take sides. You have to root for the Auburn Tigers or the Crimson Tide.  Smith was more of an Auburn fan, particularly in 2004.

Coach Tommy Tuberville’s Tigers ripped through the ’04 season undefeated, beating Tennessee in the SEC Championship Game and edging Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl to earn a No. 2 national ranking, behind only USC.

Despite the excitement of Auburn’s perfect season in Smith’s junior year of high school, he approached recruiting with an open mind.

“I was 50/50 when (Auburn) played Alabama,” he admitted.

Smith’s parents helped Andre, the oldest of four children, with recruiting.

Andre Sr., who played defensive end and tight end in high school, owned his own business. His mother worked for the government. They stressed education.   

“My Mom and Dad handled everything,” he said of the recruiting process. “I didn’t have to talk to coaches every night.”

Smith made official visits to Florida, LSU, Miami (Florida) and USC, as well as Alabama.

He flew to Los Angeles to see Pete Carroll’s Trojans for his first visit. “I wanted to commit to USC right then,” he said. “It was so different. My Mom said, ‘No. You have to make your other visits.’ ”

He eventually decided that USC was too far from home and would cost his parents too much to fly to Los Angeles to see him play.

Smith continued to be popular with SEC schools. One day LSU’s Les Miles, Florida’s Urban Meyer and Alabama’s Mike Shula were outside Smith’s house, waiting to talk with him.

“Rumors had it that I was already going to Alabama, so they kind of backed off, which I understood,” Smith said of LSU and Miami.
 Alabama was coming off a 10-2 season in 2005, including a Cotton Bowl victory over Texas Tech. Tuscaloosa was only an hour away from Birmingham and Smith liked Shula.

“Coach Shula was a great guy,” he said. “We had a little connection. The same day I signed, he had his second daughter. He said he got two gifts in one day.”

Antoine Caldwell, another offensive lineman, was Smith’s host on his official visit to Alabama.

Caldwell, who went on to be a third-round pick by the Houston Texans, did his homework on recruits.

“I had watched film on him,” Caldwell said of Smith. “I knew he would be something else. He was dominating, which I guess is what you’re supposed to do when you’re that big. He was so quiet. He didn’t want to do anything. Real soft-spoken.”

The nice guy personality that Smith projected belied his fierceness in football.

“You have to be a different person for the position of offensive line,” he said. “You have to have that mean streak in you, or your quarterback is going to get hit, or your running back is going to get hit. I was always a competitor.” 

Smith quickly broke into the starting lineup at Alabama. By the third day of camp he became the starting left tackle. “It was a little surprising they threw me in the fire so fast,” he said. “I adjusted really well. At least that’s what they told me.”

He knew everyone was watching. Being the most high-profile recruit in the class from a nearby city, people wanted to know if he had the talent to match the hype. There were doubters.

“Am I going to be a ‘bust?’ ” Smith knew people were thinking. “That’s the devil trying to play with you. Am I going to be an embarrassment to the university?”

Alabama opened the 2006 season at home against Hawaii and won by a mere 25-17, a harbinger of the problems ahead for Shula. Smith was headed in the right direction, the Tide wasn’t.

“I did really well,” Smith said of his game against Hawaii. “I didn’t give up a sack. I was going against a defensive end (Ikaika Alama-Francis) who got drafted in the second round. You were going against guys just as big and just as strong as you are. After the first two plays I knew I was going to be all right.”

Caldwell started at center with Smith at left tackle.

“From the day he showed up, he was an incredible athlete,” said Caldwell. “Watching him grow up was awesome to see. To be that big. He was overweight when he came in–345, 350. He worked his tail off and got down to around 330. It was amazing seeing him work every day. He had real nimble feet for a guy that size. He was unbelievable. He was the best offensive lineman I’d ever been around, ever played with, ever seen at the college level.

“We were real close. We spent a lot of time together. He was a normal, mild-mannered guy. He really didn’t talk too much. When we got together, we had a great time. He’d go out, hang out some. Never a trouble maker. He was one of the best kids I’ve been around.”

Smith was doing very well for a true freshman. Alabama wasn’t. After winning its first three games, the ship began to sink. The Tide finished 6-6 in the regular season and 2-6 in conference play.

The year ended with a loss to Oklahoma State in the Independence Bowl. So did Mike Shula’s career as coach at Alabama.

 Shula’s dismissal saddened Smith. But better times were ahead when Alabama turned to Nick Saban.

“I was really happy Coach Saban got the job,” said Smith. “That’s the best thing that happened to me as far as football. He’s just so passionate about the game. At first things were different. He just demanded the best. (The offense) wasn’t that much of a change.”

That first season under Saban proved to be a bit choppy. Alabama finished with four straight losses, including a shocker to Louisiana-Monroe at home. At least the Tide won the Independence Bowl this time, beating Colorado.

The following spring Smith could see something good beginning to happen.

“We felt like we were going to be really successful,” he said. “Since then everything was roses.”

Smith was right. Alabama went 12-0 in the regular season, ending its six-game losing streak against hated Auburn with a resounding 36-0 victory.

Alabama boasted maybe the best offensive line in the country. Joining Smith and Caldwell were guard Michael Johnson, drafted by Atlanta in the third round in 2010, and Marlon Davis, who spent time in the New York Jets’ camp.

Florida finally stopped Alabama, 31-20, in the SEC Championship game in Atlanta, then went on to win the national championship.

“That was disappointing,” Smith said of the loss to the Gators. “We didn’t execute on both sides of the ball. I was happy for (Florida winning the national title), because they represented the SEC.”

Winning the Outland Trophy didn’t change Smith’s personality.

“A lot of times with success, sometimes they tend to get into more stuff, a little trouble here and there,” Caldwell said. “With the amount of attention that (Smith) got, and his success he had, he never really got into that.”

After losing to Florida, Alabama was sent to the Sugar Bowl to face Utah. Bad matchup. The fact that Smith wasn’t allowed to play made it worse.

Saban suspended Smith just a couple of days before the Sugar Bowl. No official reason was given. There were rumors that Smith had dealings with an agent. Smith denied it.

“It had nothing to do with an agent,” he insisted. “That’s just people throwing stuff against the wall. It’s in the past. It’s over with. I love Coach Saban and the University of Alabama.”      

Utah jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and whipped the Tide, 31-17.

Javier Arenas returned a punt 73 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter to slice Utah’s lead to 21-10 by halftime. But Alabama never caught up.     

Smith’s absence was quite evident.

“You spend a month preparing for a bowl game with him there, then you find out he’s not going to be there, that was definitely tough,” said Caldwell. “We found out a day or two days before that he wasn’t going to be able to play. We did (miss him). After the first drive, our left guard, Michael Johnson, went down with a high ankle sprain. We were playing with two freshmen off the bench.”

Smith watched the game on TV at home.

“It was extremely hard (watching),” he said. “I was excited when we scored, when Javier took it back. I didn’t focus on whether they missed me. I missed them. I just wanted Alabama to win.”

After only three years of college, Cincinnati took Smith in the first round of the 2009 draft, the sixth pick overall.

Smith, who took courses in the summer, left school only 15 hours short of his degree in finance. He credited academic advisor John Dever and his staff for keeping him on his pace.

“As a high school guy you dream about going three years,” said Smith. “I want to be an entrepreneur, own my own business, own property, get involved in real estate.”

He took a wiser-than-many attitude into the NFL.

“It’s a means for me,” he said of pro football. “I wanted to do something in life I love. What better way to get paid.”

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

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 Reply

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.

His first opportunity to play organized football happened in first grade, playing guard for the St. Amant Wildcats. Unfortunately, the Wildcats weren’t very wild. Dorsey almost never played and the team didn’t win a game. It proved to be an inauspicious introduction to his favorite sport.

Next year the team and Dorsey improved dramatically. The Wildcats went undefeated and won their version of the Super Bowl. Dorsey, playing fullback and linebacker, was named MVP. He scored a two-point conversion and intercepted a pass.

Several years later Dorsey watched a tape of that championship game. “Watching back on film, I didn’t block anybody,” he laughed. “Man, what was I doing?”

Dorsey soon began playing against older kids because of weight limits.

There were tough times in the family. Glenn became close with an uncle, Daniel Douglas, his father’s brother.

Douglas was a big man and a body builder. He used to take Glenn to the gym with him and back to his house for ice cream. Douglas died Christmas Eve 1989 in an explosion at the Exxon refinery in Baton Rouge.  Glenn was 4 at the time.

“It was the first time I ever saw my father cry,” said Glenn. “It was hard on (my Dad). But we pulled together as a family.”

Dorsey attended East Ascension High School, his Dad’s alma mater. School came as easily to him as football.

“School was fun,” he said. “I always enjoyed going to school. My Mom never had a problem waking me up. Every day was an adventure.”

“He was always asking a lot of questions,” recalled Sandra Dorsey. “He needed to know everything.”

Dorsey played on the junior varsity as a freshman at East Ascension, lining up at guard and center on offense and nose guard on defense. He even kicked off and kicked field goals.

By his sophomore season at East Ascension, Dorsey stood 5-11, weighed 260 pounds with solid legs. He started at defensive tackle on the varsity.

His junior year proved to be a disappointment. His team went 5-5, losing several close games, often on missed extra points. That turned around his senior year. East Ascension went 10-2, losing in the state quarterfinals.

When Dorsey began following college football he quickly developed into a Florida State fan. He liked Charlie Ward, who won the Heisman Trophy and quarterbacked the Seminoles to the national championship in 1993.

He liked fullback Pooh Bear Williams and halfback Warrick Dunn, who was from Baton Rouge.

By his junior year of high school, the recruiting letters began piling up at the Dorsey home. His interest in Florida State had begun to wane.

“All the guys I liked at Florida State had left,” he said. “LSU was doing some great things. I’m kind of a homebody. I didn’t want to move away from my family. I’d be playing for my state, in my hometown. LSU was one of the top programs in the country, and it was right in my backyard.”

LSU won the national championship in 2003, beating Oklahoma, 21-14, in the championship game.

Dorsey committed to the Tigers in his junior year. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Michigan, Michigan State and most of the SEC schools tried to recruit him. But LSU was the only official visit he made.

“I probably should have taken some other visits just for fun,” he said. “But it was LSU, LSU. I didn’t really give anybody else a chance.”

LSU coach Nick Saban visited Dorsey at East Ascension. “I was so nervous, the Nick Saban, the big-time coach,” said Dorsey. “He offered me a scholarship the next morning.”

Dorsey arrived at LSU as one of the big names in the recruiting class, which didn’t give him much clout with Saban.

“He was a real intense guy,” said Dorsey. “He never sugar coated anything. He got me a lot of times. They threw me in with the second team right away. I’d mess up and he’d get on me. How does he expect me to know this stuff? He was the Commander in Chief. But he’s a great coach, a great leader.”

Dorsey made an immediate impact for the Tigers. In the first quarter of the opener against Oregon State, in the rain, Dorsey forced a fumble on his very first collegiate play.

“This is cool,” he thought. “I can get used to this. But I knew there was a lot of hard work to be done. I made a lot of mistakes. Coach Saban’s defense was so complicated, we had so many checks. Every game was tough, there was so much I had to learn. Watching film wasn’t fun the next day.”

When Saban left for the NFL after the season, LSU hired Les Miles from Oklahoma State to replace him.

The choice of Miles thrilled Dorsey. Miles had tried to recruit him out of high school. “It was like a reunion,” he said. “He’s kind of a player’s coach. He’s not going to come up and curse you out, but he gets his point across.”

Miles even instituted a Unity Council for the players. “He changed things because of what we said,” said Dorsey.

Dorsey started only one game his sophomore season. But he played behind two excellent defensive tackles in Kyle Williams and Claude Wroten, both of whom went on to play in the NFL.

In the third game of the season Dorsey made nine tackles in a 37-7 victory at Mississippi State. “It let me know I could do some things here,” he said. 

Williams and Wroten were gone by the then. Dorsey became a junior and Bo Pelini had arrived as the Tigers’ defensive coordinator. It didn’t take Pelini long to realize he had a special player at defensive tackle.

“About practice one,” said Pelini, who went on to become the coach at Nebraska. “Just the way he went about his business, his explosion. Obviously, he had the physical attributes. But just the way he carried himself. How he practiced. He never took a play off. Dorsey’s work ethic was second to none.”

Dorsey became an instant leader as a junior. “It was natural,” he said. “Everybody looked up to me in high school. I was forced into the position. I embraced it. I learned from two great guys (Williams and Wroten).”

“It comes from with inside the heart,” Pelini said of Dorsey.
“He’s a tremendous inspirational guy to all his teammates. Everybody rallies around him. He loves to play football. It’s fun for him. He likes what he’s doing and it’s contagious. He’s a special guy. He’s a throwback. I’ve never heard him complain about anything.

“He’s a guy you didn’t have to worry about in the classroom. The last three years he’s been special. He’ll be successful in anything he does. It’s gentlemen like him that makes you want to coach. He’ll be a part of my family forever.”

Dorsey developed an affinity for playing at Tiger Stadium.

“I loved it,” he said. “Our fans are superb. It’s an unbelievable feeling, like no other. It’s a rush. That’s what makes playing for LSU so special. I wish I had the opportunity to go through the whole tailgating thing. Friday morning we’d see (the fans) putting up the tents.”  

Dorsey could have left for the NFL after his junior year. Undoubtedly, he would have been drafted in the first round. Wisely, he decided to come back for his senior season.

“It wasn’t that tough (a decision),” he said. “I talked to my parents, a lot of guys, I prayed about it. Even when I got hurt early in the season, I never second guessed myself. I loved the college experience.”

His mother seconded Dorsey’s decision.

“We talked about it a long time,” said Sandra. “I wanted him to stay, get an education, enjoy it and mature a little more. I have faith and believe things work out for the best.”

They did.

LSU lost two games in 2007, Dorsey’s senior year, both in triple overtime. Somehow the Tigers still managed to qualify for the BCS title game and beat Ohio State, 38-24, to win the national championship at the Louisiana Superdome.

“The whole week was unbelievable,” said Dorsey. “The city of New Orleans embraced us. I was 100 percent. I got to run around like myself.”

In the eighth game of the season, against Auburn, Dorsey said he had injured his knee when hit by a chop block. “It scared me more than anything,” he said. “All this can be taken away from you.”

Fortunately for Dorsey, the Tigers had a bye the next week before facing Alabama. “I probably shouldn’t have played, but I’m stubborn,” he said. “I was basically playing on one leg. I was in pain the whole time, but it was all worth it in the end.”

LSU beat Alabama, 41-34.

Dorsey couldn’t take watching from the sideline. He had been hurt in camp and again against Middle Tennessee in the third game of the season, an easy 44-0 LSU victory. To avoid the risk of further injury, Pelini pulled him from the game.

“He kept fighting and fighting to get back on the field,” recalled Pelini. “I told him, ‘Glenn, you’re done for the day.’ ” Later in the game a trainer suggested to Pelini that they take him out of the game. Pelini told the trainer that Dorsey was already out of the game and wouldn’t be going back. The trainer pointed to Dorsey – who was still on the field.

“Coach, I just wanted one more series,” Dorsey explained to Pelini

The knee bothered him the rest of the regular season, but he was ready to go for the national championship game. The Tigers started slowly. Ohio State’s Beanie Wells broke off a 65-yard touchdown run on the first possession of the game. “We got caught up in the wrong defense,” said Dorsey.

LSU didn’t make many mistakes after that.

“We didn’t make any dumb penalties,” said Dorsey. “Everybody was bragging on the Ohio State defense. Our offense moved the ball up and down the field. (After the game) I just went numb. To call yourself national champions. To go down in school history.”

Dorsey said he didn’t sleep at all that night, partying with his family in the French Quarter.

A few months later the Kansas City Chiefs drafted Dorsey with the fifth pick in the first round.

2020 FWAA Freshman All-America Team unveiled

DALLAS – The 2020 Football Writers Association of Freshman All-America Team features two defensive starters from national champion Alabama, a quarterback-receiver tandem that helped Oklahoma win the Big 12 championship, the two national interception leaders amid a top-flight secondary and six schools that have a pair of players on the roster.

This is the 20th season the FWAA has honored Freshmen All-Americans.

Perhaps in no other season have freshmen played such an important part of a college football season than in 2020. Teams were constantly stretched on their depth charts and player participation varied by the day. It was a challenge that no other freshman class has had to face starting their collegiate careers in the middle of a pandemic. Their learning curve and adjustments had to come fast, and so many delivered. So as the FWAA recognizes the impressive seasons from 32 first-year players, it also salutes all the true and redshirt freshmen who contributed to start, and finish, the oddest and most challenging college football season on record.

The Southeastern Conference led all conferences with eight members followed by the Atlantic Coast’s five and four from the Big 12. The American Athletic, Big Ten and Sun Belt each had three representatives among all 10 conferences and one independent represented. Of the 32 players, 15 are redshirt freshmen.

A 13-person panel of nationally-prominent college football experts represented each of the FBS conferences along with independents in the selecting the team. Both true freshmen (17 players) and redshirt freshmen (15 players) were considered for the team and are so noted. Following is the complete, 32-man 2020 FWAA Freshman All-America Team:

2020 FWAA FRESHMAN ALL-AMERICA TEAM

OFFENSE (13)

QB Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina 6-3 200 Indian Trail, N.C.
QB Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma 6-1 205 Phoenix, Ariz.
RB Ulysses Bentley IV, SMU 5-10 184 Houston, Texas
RB Kyren Williams, Notre Dame 5-9 195 St. Louis, Mo.
WR • Kayshon Boutte, LSU 6-0 185 New Iberia, La.
WR • Marvin Mims, Oklahoma 5-11 177 Frisco, Texas
WR Tahj Washington, Memphis 5-11 175 Marshall, Texas
OL Matt Goncalves, Pitt 6-6 315 Manorville, N.Y.
OL Jeremy James, Ole Miss 6-5 330 Cumming, Ga.
OL • Willie Lampkin, Coastal Carolina 6-1 295 Lakeland, Fla.
OL Warren McClendon, Georgia 6-4 320 Brunswick, Ga.
OL • Peter Skoronski, Northwestern 6-4 294 Park Ridge, Ill.
OL Tyler Smith, Tulsa 6-5 332 Fort Worth, Texas

DEFENSE (14)

DL Ricky Barber, WKU 6-3 290 Louisville, Ky.
DL • Khari Coleman, TCU 6-2 224 New Orleans, La.
DL Calijah Kancey, Pitt 6-0 270 Miami, Fla.
DL • Myles Murphy, Clemson 6-5 275 Marietta, Ga.
LB • Will Anderson Jr., Alabama 6-4 235 Hampton, Ga.
LB • Tyler Grubbs, Louisiana Tech 6-1 221 New Orleans, La.
LB • Noah Sewell, Oregon 6-3 250 Malaeimi, American Samoa
LB • Stefon Thompson, Syracuse 6-0 235 Charlotte, N.C.
DB Derrick Canteen, Georgia Southern 5-11 185 Evans, Ga.
DB Jalen Catalon, Arkansas 5-10 189 Mansfield, Texas
DB • Emmanuel Forbes, Mississippi State 6-0 180 Grenada, Miss.
DB Brandon Joseph, Northwestern 6-1 192 College Station, Texas
DB • Malachi Moore, Alabama 6-0 182 Trussville, Ala.
DB • Eli Ricks, LSU 6-2 196 Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

SPECIALISTS (5)

K • John Hoyland, Wyoming 5-10 162 Broomfield, Colo.
P • Tory Taylor, Iowa 6-4 225 Melbourne, Australia
KR • Trayvon Rudolph, NIU 5-10 179 Crete, Ill.
PR Demario Douglas, Liberty 5-8 165 Jacksonville, Fla.
AP • Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State 5-5 168 Round Rock, Texas

HEAD COACH

Karl Dorrell, Colorado

• Denotes true treshman

National champion Alabama stands out with two starters from its defense punctuated with jack linebacker Will Anderson Jr. earning the Shaun Alexander National Freshman Player of the Year Award. Anderson started every game and led the SEC and all national freshmen with 7.0 sacks while also adding 10.5 tackles for loss. His 52 total QB pressures were second nationally.

Four of the SEC’s eight members make up the six-man secondary. Alabama’s star (nickel) back Malachi Moore was an every-game starter and grabbed three interceptions to earn All-SEC Freshman honors. The last ‘Bama secondary member on the Freshman All-America team was in 2018, Patrick Surtain II, who this year was a Bronko Nagurski Trophy finalist and a consensus All-American. Alabama has had a pair of selections in three consecutive seasons.

LSU continues to produce outstanding young cornerbacks. Eli Ricks’ four interceptions were second in the SEC and tied for eighth nationally and he gives the Tigers a third Freshman All-American in the last four seasons at corner (Derek Stingley Jr. in 2019, Greedy Williams in 2017). The SEC’s leading pick-man is also on the team, Emmanuel Forbes of Mississippi State, who had five in 10 games, returning two for scores. Forbes’ 617 defensive snaps played were sixth in the nation among true freshmen. Forbes is only the third Bulldog to earn Freshman All-America status. Arkansas safety Jalen Catalon had 99 tackles, more than any other freshman. Catalon is the first Arkansas defensive back to be a Freshman All-American since Lawrence Richardson on the initial team in 2001 and the Hogs’ first overall since 2015.

Also in the secondary is Brandon Joseph, one of two Northwestern players and the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Joseph’s six interceptions tied for the national lead. Derrick Canteen of Georgia Southern also had six picks and added 10 PBU’s in eight games to become the first Eagles player to receive any postseason honor from the FWAA.

The Sun Belt trio also boasts its Player of the Year in redshirt quarterback Grayson McCall, who keyed Coastal Carolina’s upstart 11-1 season with 29 total touchdowns against just two interceptions. He led the Sun Belt in passing efficiency and passing yards. Willie Lampkin, Coastal’s left guard, is on the team as an every-game starter for the nation’s 15th-best rushing offense who allowed just one sack this season. It’s been quite an FWAA postseason debut for Coastal Carolina – McCall and Lampkin join head coach Jamey Chadwell (Eddie Robinson Award as Coach of the Year) and defensive end Tarron Jackson (First Team All-American) as the Chanticleers’ first postseason honorees by the FWAA.

Oklahoma’s tandem of Spencer Rattler and Marvin Mims helped the Sooners claim another Big 12 title. Rattler joins McCall at the helm of the team after an All-Big 12 and Big 12 Newcomer of the Year season, leading the nation’s freshmen in passing touchdowns (25), passing offense (278.4 ypg) and total offense (290.4 ypg). Mims became his prime target, as the Big 12 second-teamer led the Sooners with 37 catches and an Oklahoma freshman-record nine touchdowns. Oklahoma has freshman All-America selections for a fourth straight season and seventh of the last eight.

Kayshon Boutte is LSU’s first receiver to be a Freshman All-American and gives the Tigers (along with Ricks) at least one member on five of the last seven teams. Boutte finished with three straight 100-yard games against Alabama, Florida and Ole Miss, where he set the SEC’s single-game record with 308 yards on 14 catches with three touchdowns – which is the FWAA’s Freshman Performance of the Year. Memphis’ Tahj Washington is the school’s fourth Freshman All-American in the last five seasons and follows Kenneth Gainwell, last year’s Shaun Alexander National Freshman Player of the Year. Washington had 670 receiving yards and six touchdowns.

The All-America backfield has the ACC Rookie of the Year, Notre Dame’s Kyren Williams, and the American Athletic Offensive Rookie of the Year, Ulysses Bentley IV of SMU. Williams led all FBS freshmen in rushing yards (1,061) and touchdowns (12) in helping take the Irish to the College Football Playoff. He is only Notre Dame’s second Freshman All-American on offense and its first since 2006. Bentley led the Mustangs with 913 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns to set a SMU freshman single-season record. He is SMU’s first Freshman All-American.

Joining Lampkin on the line is Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski, the Wildcats’ first Freshman All-American (along with Joseph) since 2017 and its first on offense since 2005. Skoronski allowed only two sacks in 587 snaps filling in at left tackle after veteran Rashawn Slater opted out. From the SEC is Ole Miss’ Jeremy James, the Rebels’ first Freshman All-American since 2012 who started all nine games at right guard for an offense that averaged 40.7 points per game. Georgia’s Warren McClendon was an All-SEC Freshman selection and gives the Bulldogs a freshman All-American in five straight seasons and an All-American offensive lineman in three of the last four.

Tulsa left tackle Tyler Smith started all eight games for a team that was picked eighth in its conference but closed playing for The American title. Tulsa’s last Freshman All-American came in 2018 with linebacker Zaven Collins, this year’s Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner as the nation’s top defensive player. Matt Goncalves is Pitt’s first Freshman All-American on offense since 2015.

Pitt’s other honoree is Calijah Kancey, part of an impressive foursome of young pass rushers who already stand out among the national leaders. Kancey gives the Panthers a defensive lineman on both the First Team All-America squad (Rashad Weaver) and its Freshman All-America Team after he filled into the starting lineup when 2019 All-American Jaylen Twyman opted out for the season. He answered with 21 quarterback pressures, 27 tackles and 7.0 TFL’s. TCU’s Khari Coleman, the Big 12 Co-Defensive Freshman of the Year, led all freshmen nationally and was seventh overall with 15.0 TFL’s to go with 3.0 sacks. He had at least two TFL’s in six of his last seven games. TCU has had a Freshman All-American in three of the last four seasons.

Clemson’s defense is restocked on the line with tackle Myles Murphy, who finished fourth on the team with 34 tackles, led the Tigers with 9.0 TFL’s and had three forced fumbles. The ACC’s Co-Newcomer of the Year is Clemson’s first Freshman All-American since quarterback Trevor Lawrence in 2018. WKU’s Ricky Barber finished as perhaps the top pass rusher from the Group of Five programs. Barber’s 43 tackles were ninth nationally among defensive linemen to go with 6.0 TFL’s and four sacks in 10 games. He is the fourth Freshman All-American at WKU, which now has two in the last three seasons.

Anderson leads the four-man linebacking crew but watch out west for another name to rise next season. Noah Sewell at Oregon made an immediate impact posting sacks in his first two games and finishing with 44 tackles and 6.5 TFL’s in just seven games. The Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year and the younger brother of 2019 Outland Trophy winner Penei Sewell, Noah Sewell is only the second Oregon linebacker to be named a Freshman All-American (Troy Dye in 2016) and gives the Ducks a freshman All-American in four of the last five seasons. Stefon Thompson is Syracuse’s sixth Freshman All-American and its first at linebacker. He set the Orange record for a freshman with 4.0 TFL’s against Louisville, the most in a single game by a rookie there since the statistic has been kept (1994).

Tyler Grubbs made the Conference USA All-Freshman team, leading Louisiana Tech and finishing 25th in the FBS with 9.9 tackles per game (99 total) with 9.5 TFL’s. He posted 16 tackles in his collegiate debut and had double-digit totals in five of 10 games. Grubbs is Louisiana Tech’s fourth Freshman All-American and its first since 2017.

Deuce Vaughn lit up Big 12 defenses from multiple positions and closed the regular season as one of two FBS players to have at least 600 rushing yards and 400 receiving yards, the other being the FWAA’s all-purpose First-Team All-American, Travis Etienne of Clemson. The Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year racked up 1,221 all-purpose yards that including a K-State freshman-record 642 rushing yards and a team-leading 434 receiving yards. Of the Wildcats’ eight Freshman All-Americans, four have been on special teams or all-purpose.

Tory Taylor of Iowa finished with a 44.1-yard average to lead all FBS freshmen. The 23-year-old Australian is only the fourth Freshman All-American at Iowa and its first non-lineman. John Hoyland of Wyoming was tops in the country in field goals made per game (2.17) missing only one kick, which was sixth nationally by percentage (92.9) and he averaged 9.2 points per game. He is the Cowboys’ first special teams Freshman All-American and gives them a member for a third consecutive season and fifth in the last six years.

NIU’s Trayvon Rudolph was a MAC first-teamer and led the nation in kickoff return yards (717) averaging 23.9 yards per return with six returns of 30 or more yards. Rudolph is NIU’s first Freshman All-American since 2015 and its first on special teams. Demario Douglas gave Liberty its first punt return touchdown in five seasons and was 10th nationally with an 11.1-yard average. He is Liberty’s second Freshman All-American.

The Freshman Coach of the Year is Colorado’s Karl Dorrell, who led the Buffaloes to their first winning record since 2016 at 4-2 after Colorado started its conference season 3-0 for the first time since 2002.

From this Freshman All-America team, Texas was the home state for seven of the players – each playing for a different program – to lead all others, followed by Georgia’s five and Florida and Louisiana with three each. The team also included a player (Noah Sewell) from an American territory for the first time, and Iowa’s Taylor is the fifth Australian to earn a Freshman All-America honor. No freshmen made the FWAA All-America Team this season.

About Shaun Alexander

Shaun Alexander is a former All-Pro running back with the Seattle Seahawks (2000-07) and Washington Redskins (2008) and a former All-SEC player at Alabama (1995-99). He finished a four-year career with the Crimson Tide holding 15 records including 3,565 career rushing yards and most touchdowns (5) in a game. He was drafted by Seattle as the 19th overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, and in his second season had a breakout year with 1,318 yards and 14 touchdowns, including a franchise-record 266 yards on 35 carries in a memorable ESPN Sunday Night Football game against Oakland. Today Alexander travels the country speaking and teaching people about the things he is passionate about – his Christian faith, marriage, fatherhood, football, winning, leading and love.

About the Football Writers Association of America

The FWAA 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 link:

Alabama’s Leatherwood wins Outland Trophy

DALLAS – Alabama offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood was named the recipient of the 75th Outland Trophy on Thursday night during The Home Depot College Football Awards on ESPN. The Outland Trophy is awarded annually to the nation’s best college interior lineman on offense or defense and Leatherwood is the third Alabama lineman of the last five seasons to win it and the sixth overall.

Leatherwood, a 6-6, 312-pound senior from Pensacola, Fla., was selected by the All-America Committee of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) from three finalists that also included Notre Dame offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg and Iowa defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon.

Of Alabama’s five previous Outland winners – Quinnen Williams (2018), Cam Robinson (2016), Barrett Jones (2011), Andre Smith (2008) and Chris Samuels (1999) – five of them were also offensive tackles. The Outland Trophy now has consecutive offensive winners (Oregon guard Penei Sewell last year) after two defensive tackles in 2017 (Ed Oliver of Houston) and 2018 (Williams).

Leatherwood will be honored as the recipient of the 2020 Outland Trophy on Jan. 13 in Omaha at a dinner hosted by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee and sponsored by Werner Enterprises.

A backbone on the left side of top-ranked Alabama’s line, Leatherwood is the best lineman on the season’s best team to date. The Crimson Tide has consensus All-Americans at quarterback, running back and wide receiver this season – some of the credit must start up front where its left tackle is providing protection for the nation’s second-highest scoring offense at 48.2 points per game that is also fifth in passing at 349.3 yards per game and sixth in total offense averaging 535.0 yards per game.

He has an overall blocking grade of 91.1 by the Alabama coaching staff having given up two sacks and three quarterback hurries this season. Leatherwood and Alabama center Landon Dickerson were co-winners of the SEC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the league’s top linemen. He was a First Team choice on all four All-America teams by the organizations that decide consensus status and can become a unanimous selection from the Walter Camp Foundation tonight. Named a permanent team captain by the Alabama players last month, the Bama coaches honored him as well making Leatherwood one of their four Offensive Achievement Award winners having earned their Player of the Week selection four times, including after last week’s Rose Bowl playoff semifinal.

Leatherwood’s ability was on display that night in Bama’s 31-14 win over Notre Dame. The Crimson Tide racked up 437 yards, averaging 5.6 yards per carry on the ground en route to 140 rushing yards. His protection allowed quarterback Mac Jones to complete 25-of-30 passes for 297 yards and four touchdowns on the day. In Monday night’s National Championship against Ohio State, Leatherwood and the Alabama front faces perhaps the best defensive line they’ve seen yet this season.

The Outland Trophy, which has been awarded annually by the FWAA since 1946, is named after the late John Outland, an All-America lineman at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1800s. The Outland Trophy is the third-oldest award in major college football behind the Heisman Trophy and Maxwell Award.

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 to learn more about our story.

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:
• Preseason Watch List | Semifinalists | Finalists
• All-time Outland Trophy winners, candidates
• Download 75th Anniversary Outland Trophy logo: Primary (.jpg) | Dark background (.jpg) | Illustrator (.ai)

Coastal Carolina’s Chadwell wins 2020 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award

DALLAS  – Coastal Carolina coach Jamey Chadwell led his team to historic heights this season within its program, its conference, the national rankings and even the College Football Playoff with an 11-win season that captured the country’s imagination and brought immeasurable attention to the school in Conway, S.C. For his achievements in leading the Chanticleers to so many historic program firsts, Chadwell was named the 2020 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year by the Football Writers Association of America and the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

Chadwell is a first-time winner of the Eddie Robinson Award and the first coach from the Sun Belt Conference to win the honor. He was selected from voting by the entire FWAA membership from a field of eight other finalists from seven FBS conferences and the nation’s top independent program.

“Jamey Chadwell had an outstanding season that would have impressed even Coach Robinson,” Sugar Bowl president Ralph Capitelli said. “While going from being picked last in the conference in the preseason to winning its first Sun Belt Championship and reaching the national Top-10, Coastal Carolina became one of the feel-good stories of the season during a very tough year. Congratulations to Coach Chadwell and his Chanticleers.”

“Coach Eddie Robinson’s family sends congratulations and well-wishes to Coach Jamey Chadwell on his becoming the 2020 FWAA Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year,” said Eddie Robinson III, the grandson of the legendary coach. “His 2020 season at Coastal Carolina has been a phenomenal one not only for the school and for the Sun Belt Conference but for all of college football and its rich history.”

Jamey Chadwell led his Coastal Carolina program to an 11-1 season in just his second full season in Conway. (Photo: Icon Sportswire)

Chadwell, in his second full season as head coach at Coastal Carolina, will receive the iconic bust of the late Robinson, a College Football Hall of Fame coach at Grambling State University for 55 years and winner of 408 career games. Chadwell took over as interim head coach for Joe Moglia in the 2017 season and the was named the fulltime head coach replacing Moglia before the 2019 season. Moglia missed the 2017 season with health issues.

“This award is a direct reflection of the sacrifices that the Coastal Carolina University administration, staff, coaches, and student-athletes made to help our team have a historic season,” Chadwell said. “It’s an absolute privilege to represent Coach Robinson and I would like to thank the Football Writers Associations of America and the Sugar Bowl committee for the opportunity to accept this prestigious award.”

Chadwell, the Sun Belt Coach of the Year, first caught the nation’s attention as Coastal Carolina, picked to finish last in the SBC’s East Division, took a 28-3 lead into halftime of its Sept. 12 season opener at Kansas. CCU eventually won 38-23 to lead off a banner day for the Sun Belt that helped grab national headlines. A home win over Campbell then led into conference play, where a runaway 52-23 win over Arkansas State was followed by a notable 30-27 win at two-time West Division champion and nationally-ranked Louisiana with a field goal in the final seconds. It was Coastal’s first win over a top-25 team and began a string of eight straight conference wins that guaranteed Coastal’s first division championship, its first bowl berth and later its first conference championship at the FBS level.

As the wins mounted, so too did the attention as the win at Louisiana earned Coastal its first national ranking in both polls and it hasn’t left the top 25 since. Coastal, which had climbed to No. 14 in the polls, thought it lost a big opportunity when its home game Dec. 5 against No. 25 Liberty had to be cancelled late in the week. But the magical season got a rare coup when it was able to quickly replace it only two days prior to kickoff with another home game against No. 8 BYU. Once again the country’s attention turned to Conway and a rare late-season meeting between two of the top three ranked Group of 5 schools. The game drew one of the day’s largest television ratings as the Chants won, 22-17, tackling a BYU receiver at their 1-yard line as time expired.

It was one of two wins Coastal had over top 25 opponents, another program first, and earned them a No. 9 ranking in the Associated Press poll, the highest ranking ever for any Sun Belt school. It also brought the Chants up to No. 12 in the College Football Playoff rankings, a first for the program and another Sun Belt record high for a program playing only its fourth season as a full-time FBS and Sun Belt member.

A Sun Belt Conference Championship Game rematch with Louisiana had to be cancelled due to COVID concerns, sending Coastal into the bowl season with its first undefeated regular season still intact. The Chants placed 10 players on the All-Sun Belt First Team and had 16 players on the team in all. Five of the six individual awards went to Coastal players: Player and Freshman of the Year (quarterback Grayson McCall); Defensive Player of the Year (defensive end Tarron Jackson); Newcomer of the Year (cornerback D’Jordan Strong) and Coach of the Year (Chadwell).

A rematch of sorts with Liberty came Dec. 26 in the FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl in Orlando. Coastal scored with 3:01 left and got a two-point conversion to take the game to overtime. Liberty’s first possession ended with a 44-yard field goal, and the Flames blocked Coastal’s field goal try on its possession to take a 37-34 win to hand the Chants their lone loss of the season.

The Eddie Robinson Award is the second of two FWAA postseason honors won by Coastal Carolina this season. Senior defensive end Tarron Jackson is a first team FWAA All-American, the Chanticleers’ first player to earn that status or any FWAA postseason honor. Jackson was also a Bronko Nagurski Trophy finalist as FWAA’s National Defensive Player of the Year.

The other eight finalists for the award were Tom Allen of Indiana, Brent Brennan of San Jose State, Matt Campbell of Iowa State, Karl Dorrell of Colorado, Luke Fickell of Cincinnati, Nick Saban of Alabama, Kalani Sitake of BYU and Dabo Swinney of Clemson.

The FWAA has presented a coaching award since the 1957 season when Ohio State’s Woody Hayes was named the first recipient. Beginning in 1997, the FWAA Coach of the Year Award has been named in honor of the late Robinson, a coaching legend at Grambling State University for 55 seasons.

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

The Eddie Robinson Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses college football’s most prestigious awards. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 25 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about our story.

The Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the premier college football bowl games, having hosted 28 national champions, 97 Hall of Fame players, 50 Hall of Fame coaches and 18 Heisman Trophy winners in its 87-year history. The 2022 Allstate Sugar Bowl, which will feature top teams from the SEC and the Big 12, is scheduled to be played on January 1, 2022. In addition to football, the Sugar Bowl Committee annually invests over $1.6 million into the community through the hosting and sponsorship of sporting events, awards and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors thousands of student-athletes each year, while injecting over $2.7 billion into the local economy in the last decade. For more information, visit AllstateSugarBowl.org.

The Football Writers Association of America, founded in 1941, 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 Eddie Robinson Award winners, finalists
• Eddie Robinson Award: Logo (.jpg) | Photo

Sarah Shatel named recipient of Volney Meece Scholarship

Sarah Shatel, winner of the 2020 Volney Meece Scholarship

Sarah Shatel, a freshman at the University of Missouri, was named the 24th winner of the Volney Meece Scholarship on Monday.

 

The scholarship is awarded annually by the Football Writers Association of America and named for the late Volney Meece. Meece served 22 years as the FWAA’s executive director and was the organization’s president in 1971.

 

The scholarship is a $1,000 annual grant for four years. It is awarded to a deserving son or daughter of an FWAA member.

 

The 19-year-old Shatel is the daughter of long-time FWAA member Tom Shatel, Omaha World-Herald sports columnist and 2000 FWAA President. 

 

Sarah compiled an impressive list of academic and extracurricular achievements as a student at Elkhorn (NE) South High School. She has continued along that path at Mizzou.

 

At Elkhorn South, Sarah maintained a weighted 4.105 GPA while taking several advanced placement and honors courses. A member of the National Honor Society, she was cited for outstanding academic excellence by the President’s Education Awards Program.

 

She helped organize a church mission to Costa Rica, served as a peer tutor through the National Honor Society, was involved in SADD (Student Against Destructive Decisions), was web editor and writer for the student newspaper, and volunteered for extracurricular activities while working several part-time jobs. 

 

Sarah is majoring in mathematics at Mizzou with a minor in Spanish.

 

Past winners of the Volney Meece Scholarship  

  •   1997 Brett Goering Topeka, Kan.  
  •   1998 Kelly Brooks Denver, Colo.  
  •   1999 James Butz Schaumberg, Ill.  
  •   2000 Sara Barnhart Atlanta, Ga.  
  •   2001 Patrick Davis Coventry, Conn.  
  •   2002 Jacqueline O’Toole Gaithersburg, Md.  
  •   2003 Garrett Holtz Denver, Colo.  
  •   2004 Katie Hersom Oklahoma City, Okla.  
  •   2005 Katie Wieberg Lawson, Mo.  
  •   2006 Kaylynn Monroe Winter Park, Fla.  
  •   2007 Nate Kerkhoff Overland Park, Kan.  
  •   2008 Jack Caywood Lawrence, Kan.  
  •   2009 Haley Dodd Overland Park, Kan.  
  •   2010 Donald Hunt Philadelphia, Pa.  
  •   2011 Alaina Martens Papillion, Neb.  
  •   2012 Emily Alford Tupelo, Miss.  
  •   2013 Sarah Helsley Edmond, Okla.  
  •   2014 Robert Abramson Palos Verde, Calif.  
  •   2015 Danielle Hoover Tulsa, Okla.  
  •   2016 Dolen Helwagen Pataskala, Ohio  
  •   2017 Elizabeth Schroeder Norman, Okla.  
  •   2018 Mallory Rosetta Baton Rouge, La.  
  •   2019 Alexandra Haley Hamilton, N.J. 

2020 FWAA All-America Team unveiled

DALLAS – The 2020 Football Writers Association of America All-America Team, presented in partnership with the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, is headlined by five players from Alabama on the first team and more than half the first team coming from the Atlantic Coast and Southeastern Conferences. There are 19 schools represented from eight Football Bowl Subdivision conferences on the first team, including 10 players who are competing the College Football Playoff later this week.

The Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic is presenting the All-America Team as part of what has been a season-long campaign to promote the 76-year history of this prestigious honor. Each All-American will receive a commemorative football and the first-team selections will be presented with a custom All-America watch.

“Serving in the role of presenting sponsor of the FWAA’s prestigious All-America team is the perfect for the both of us,” said Bry Patton, the chairman of the Cotton Bowl Athletic Association and Cotton Bowl Foundation. “The Goodyear Cotton Bowl and the nation’s writers and broadcasters have shared a lot of special moments over eight decades. We are proud of this relationship and look forward to doing our part in promoting these deserving student-athletes.”

Since 1945, the FWAA team has been among the five used in the NCAA’s selection of an annual consensus All-America team in college football. Since the 2002 season, the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), The Associated Press, The Sporting News and the Walter Camp Football Foundation have joined the FWAA as the five designated selectors by the NCAA.

Alabama has four players on the first-team offense – wide receiver DeVonta Smith, running back Najee Harris, center Landon Dickerson and Outland Trophy finalist offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood – marking the first time since the FWAA All-America team broke into specialized backfield positions in 1967 for one school to post four players on either side of the ball. Add in defensive back Patrick Surtain II, and only two other teams have ever placed five or more players on the first team as the Crimson Tide match their 2011 national title team with five, leaving the six from Oklahoma’s 2003 BCS-runner-up squad still holding the FWAA record.

The Crimson Tide’s six players on the combined first and second teams tie that 2003 Oklahoma team and Army’s 1946 team as the most for one team in one season.

Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne make their first-team debuts on the 2020 squad and the four College Football Playoff teams occupy 10 of the 27 first-team slots. Etienne was selected as the all-purpose player after earning second-team running back spots the past two seasons. Clemson’s opponent, Ohio State, has guard Wyatt Davis back on the offensive line after a second-team spot last year – Etienne and Davis are the only repeat members from the combined 2019 All-America team with no first-teamers back on the 2020 squad.

Notre Dame’s three selections are second only to national semifinal foe Alabama. Outland Trophy finalist offensive lineman Liam Eichenberg joins Butkus Award winner Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and safety Kyle Hamilton. Clemson and Notre Dame claim five of the ACC’s conference-best eight first-teamers that also has kicker Jose Borregales of Miami (Fla.) and Pressley Harvin III of Georgia Tech at punter. The other ACC spot came from Pitt defensive lineman Rashad Weaver.

The SEC commands the first-team offense with six of 11 members that includes Florida tight end Kyle Pitts and Texas A&M offensive lineman Kenyon Green added to Alabama’s players. Surtain was the SEC’s only first-team defensive selection.

Iowa State was the only program not in the College Football Playoff to place two on the first team with Breece Hall, who led the nation in rushing during the regular season, at running back along with defensive lineman JaQuan Bailey. It’s the first time for Iowa State to have two All-Americans in the same season. No one caught more touchdown passes than wide receiver Jaelon Darden, who completes the first-team offense as the first North Texas player to ever earn first-team All-America status.

Linebacker Zaven Collins, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner, headlines the defense as Tulsa’s first All-America pick since 1991. Defensive lineman Tarron Jackson is Coastal Carolina’s first selection and joins Outland Trophy finalist Daviyon Nixon of Iowa at the front of the defense. Linebacker Joseph Ossai is Texas’ first honoree since 2017, Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner is only his school’s second All-American on defense and Indiana cornerback Tiawan Mullen is the Hoosiers’ first selection to play defense and its first of any kind since 2015.

The two return specialists were Boise State’s Avery Williams on kickoffs and Houston’s Marcus Jones on punts. Williams is only the third first-teamer in Boise State history and Jones gives The American Athletic Conference three first-teamers in a single season for the first time in its history.

On the second team is quarterback Mac Jones, who completes Alabama’s tie for the FWAA’s single-season honoree record, and an Ohio State duo in wide receiver Garrett Wilson and safety Shaun Wade. BYU offensive lineman Brady Christiansen becomes the Cougars’ first All-American since 2001. Two 1,000-yard rushers earned spots – UTSA’s Sincere McCormick is the first honoree in his program’s history and Buffalo’s Jaret Patterson, along with offensive lineman Kayode Awosika are Buffalo’s first selections since 2013 and its first on offense.

The Pac-12 has two second-team honorees with Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux on the defensive line and Colorado linebacker Nate Landman. Also on the second team is defensive back Greg Newsome of Northwestern, the Wildcats’ first selection since 2012 and its first on defense since now-head coach Pat Fitzgerald was a two-time linebacker honoree in 1995-96. Patrick Johnson, the national sack leader in the regular season, is Tulane’s first All-American since 2012 and its first on defense. West Virginia was one of nine schools to have at least two honorees with its pair of defenders in lineman Darius Stills and safety Tykee Smith. Marshall linebacker Tavante Beckett is his school’s first selection since 2011 and Trevon Moehrig gives TCU a selection in the secondary in back-to-back seasons. Miami defensive lineman Jaelen Phillips gives the Hurricanes a pair of honorees on the combined team for the first time since 2003.

The combined 54-man teams represent 39 schools from all 10 FBS conferences plus one independent and hail from half the country – their hometowns are in 26 states led by nine from Texas, eight from Florida and six from California. It is heavily-laden with seniors, who occupy almost half (23) the spots, followed by 19 juniors and 12 sophomores. There are no freshmen on the combined team.

The FWAA’s All-America Committee selected this 77th annual team based on nominations from the entire membership. This is just the eighth season in the modern era (post-1950) that the FWAA has named a second team. The FWAA also selected an all-purpose player for a fourth consecutive year, which made for a 54-man full team.

2020 FWAA ALL-AMERICA FIRST TEAM

OFFENSE

QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson 6-6 220 Jr. Cartersville, Ga.
RB Breece Hall, Iowa State 6-1 215 So. Wichita, Kan.
RB Najee Harris, Alabama 6-2 230 Sr. Antioch, Calif.
WR Jaelon Darden, North Texas 5-9 174 Sr. Houston, Texas
WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama 6-1 175 Sr. Amite, La.
TE Kyle Pitts, Florida 6-6 240 Jr. Philadelphia, Pa.
OL Wyatt Davis, Ohio State 6-4 315 Jr. Bellflower, Calif.
OL Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame 6-6 302 Gr. Cleveland, Ohio
OL Kenyon Green, Texas A&M 6-4 325 So. Humble, Texas
OL Alex Leatherwood, Alabama 6-6 312 Sr. Pensacola, Fla.
C Landon Dickerson, Alabama 6-6 325 Sr. Hickory, N.C.

DEFENSE

DL JaQuan Bailey, Iowa State 6-2 261 Sr. Jacksonville, Fla.
DL Tarron Jackson, Coastal Carolina 6-2 260 Sr. Aiken, S.C.
DL Daviyon Nixon, Iowa 6-3 305 Jr. Kenosha, Wis.
DL Rashad Weaver, Pitt 6-5 270 Sr. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa 6-4 260 Jr. Hominy, Okla.
LB Joseph Ossai, Texas 6-4 253 Jr. Conroe, Texas
LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame 6-1 215 Sr. Hampton, Va.
DB Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati 6-2 188 So. Detroit, Mich.
DB Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame 6-4 219 So. Atlanta, Ga.
DB Tiawan Mullen, Indiana 5-10 176 So. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
DB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama 6-2 202 Jr. Plantation, Fla.

SPECIALISTS

K Jose Borregales, Miami 5-10 205 Sr. Miami, Fla.
P Pressley Harvin III, Georgia Tech 6-0 255 Sr. Alcolu, S.C.
KR Avery Williams, Boise State 5-9 195 Sr. Pasadena, Calif.
PR Marcus Jones, Houston 5-8 185 Jr. Enterprise, Ala.
AP Travis Etienne, Clemson 5-10 205 Sr. Jennings, La.

First Team Only Breakdown

Combined by School (19): Alabama 5, Notre Dame 3, Clemson 2, Iowa State 2, Boise State, Cincinnati, Coastal Carolina, Florida, Georgia Tech, Houston, Indiana, Iowa, Miami, North Texas, Ohio State, Pitt, Texas, Texas A&M, Tulsa.

By Conference (8): ACC 8, SEC 7, American Athletic 3, Big 12 3, Big Ten 3, Conference USA 1, Mountain West 1, Sun Belt 1.

By Class: Senior/Graduate 14, Junior 8, Sophomore 5.

By Home State (15): Florida 6, California 3, Texas 3, Georgia 2, Louisiana 2, South Carolina 2, Alabama, Kansas, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin.

2010 FWAA All-America Second Team

Offense: QB Mac Jones, Alabama; RB Sincere McCormick, UTSA; RB Jaret Patterson, Buffalo; WR Jonathan Adams, Arkansas State; WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State; TE Hunter Long, Boston College; OL Kayode Awosika, Buffalo; OL Brady Christiansen, BYU; OL Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech; OL Trey Smith, Tennessee; C Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa.

Defense: DL Patrick Johnson, Tulane; DL Jaelan Phillips, Miami; DL Darius Stills, West Virginia; DL Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon; LB Tavante Beckett, Marshall; LB Nick Bolton, Missouri; LB Nate Landman, Colorado; DB Trevon Moehrig, TCU; DB Greg Newsome, Northwestern; DB Tykee Smith, West Virginia; DB Shaun Wade, Ohio State.

Specialists: K Cade York, LSU; P Jake Camarda, Georgia; KR Chris Smith, Louisiana; PR Jeremiah Haydel, Texas State; AP Dwayne Eskridge, Western Michigan.

Combined First- and Second-Team Breakdown

By School (39): Alabama 6, Notre Dame 3, Ohio State 3, Buffalo 2, Clemson 2, Iowa 2, Iowa State 2, Miami 2, West Virginia 2, Arkansas State, Boise State, Boston College, BYU, Cincinnati, Coastal Carolina, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Houston, Indiana, Louisiana, LSU, Marshall, Missouri, North Texas, Northwestern, Oregon, Pitt, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, TCU, Texas State, Tulane, Tulsa, UTSA, Virginia Tech, Western Michigan.

By Conference (10): SEC 12, ACC 11, Big Ten 7, Big 12 6, American Athletic 4, Sun Belt 4, Conference USA 3, Mid-American 3, Pac-12 2, Mountain West 1, Independents 1.

By Class: Senior/Graduate 23, Junior 19, Sophomore 12.

By Home State (26): Texas 9, Florida 8, California 6, Georgia 3, Louisiana 2, Maryland 2, Pennsylvania 2, South Carolina 2, Tennessee 2, Virginia 2, Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin.

FWAA All-America Teams Since 1944

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,400 men and women who cover college football. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game day operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at tiger@fwaa.com or call 214-870-6516.

2020 FWAA All-America Committee: Andrea Adelson, ESPN.com; Kirk Bohls, Austin American-Statesman; Travis Brown, Bryan-College Station Eagle; Ken Capps, TexasFootball.com; Brett Cianci, Pick Six Previews; Scott Dochterman, The Athletic; Scott Farrell, collegepressbox.com; Bryan Fischer, Athlon Sports; Clay Henry, Hawgs Illustrated; John Hoover, SI Now: All Sooners; Adam Hunsucker, Monroe News-Star; Shehan Jeyarajah, Dave Campbell’s Texas Football; Barrett Jones, ESPN; Doug Lesmerises, Cleveland.com; Nate Mink, Syracuse.com; Tony Siracusa, Last Word on College Football; Phil Steele, Phil Steele Publications; David Ubben, The Athletic; Chris Vannini, The Athletic; John Wagner, Toledo Blade (retired).

Related links:
• All-Time FWAA All-America Teams (.pdf)
• Download the FWAA All-America logo

 

 

 

Alex Charlton named winner of 2020 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award

MIAMI LAKES, Fla. — Alex Charlton is the winner of the 2020 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award. Charlton left his post as an Arkansas State analyst to join the front lines of the pandemic as a COVID-19 response team nurse.

“I love football and I miss it on a daily basis,” Charlton said. “But when you go to New York to help out at the peak of everything and you see all that is going on in the rest of the country, to me, how can you not do anything about it when you’re capable of helping?”

In March, Charlton became a graduate assistant at Midwestern State, a Division II school in Wichita Falls, Texas. An Overland Park, Kan., native, Charlton had attended Kansas, where he was as a student assistant for the Jayhawks and stayed on after his 2013 graduation, serving as a player personnel assistant and a graduate assistant.

From there, Charlton enrolled in nursing school at University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2015. He scratched the football itch by helping out as an assistant coach at several area high schools.

Shortly after landing with Midwestern State, Charlton left his job to work as a nurse in New York, which was experiencing nearly 5,000 coronavirus cases a day at the height of the pandemic. Charlton stayed until June, when cases had fallen to roughly 1,000 per day. He returned home to Kansas, then went back to his post with the Mustangs at Midwestern State.

Late in July, Arkansas State hired Charlton as a defensive analyst. But on Aug. 9, Charlton left football again when his services were needed the most, going to Ennis, Texas to again work as a COVID-19 nurse.

Arkansas State was coached at the time by Blake Anderson, who won the 2019 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award for the way he guided the Red Wolves after the death of his wife, Wendy, who passed away after a two-year battle with breast cancer. (Anderson was recently hired as Utah State’s coach.)

“It’s an honor to be selected for this award, especially with somebody like Blake, who has won it himself,” Charlton said. “It’s pretty special and heartwarming.”

The 30-year-old Charlton is currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, about an hour northwest of Ennis Regional Medical Center. He will be there until at least the end of January, and likely longer. Every week brings a new schedule, and new challenges. All of it is worthwhile, Charlton says, knowing that he is doing his part to make a difference during a time in which the country is in dire need of medical personnel.

He watches as much football as he can when he’s not working. Sometimes, when he gets a free hour or two during a night shift, he will watch recorded games and catch up on box scores from around the nation.

“I cannot think of an individual who is more deserving of this award than Alex, especially given these challenging times for everyone,” former FWAA President Matt Fortuna said. “Here is a young man who is making an incredible sacrifice by risking his health and his career to serve others and make this world a better place.

“Alex truly walks the walk, and he sets an incredible example for the rest of us to try to live up to.”

Charlton hopes to get back involved with football when the time allows for it. For now, he is answering a higher calling, working diligently to provide care for the sick in a region that needs his help, for however long that may be.

“I have seen all of the people who have won this award, and to be in that group is pretty special,” Charlton said. “Thank you to everybody for their support.”

All-Time Capital One Orange Bowl Courage Award recipients

• 2002: William Bratton, Toledo
• 
2003: Neil Parry, San Jose State
• 
2004: Horacio Colen, Memphis
• 
2005: Tulane Green Wave
• 
2006: Ray Ray McElrathbey, Clemson
• 
2007: Zerbin Singleton, Navy
• 
2008: Wilson Holloway, Tulsa
• 
2009: Connecticut Huskies
• 
2010: Eric LeGrand, Rutgers
2011: Arthur Ray Jr., Michigan State
• 2012: Daniel Rodriguez, Clemson
• 2013: Anthony Larceval, San Jose State
• 2014: Laken Tomlinson, Duke
• 2015: Hunter Knighton, Miami
• 2016: James Conner, Pitt
• 2017: D’Cota Dixon, Wisconsin
• 2018: Kyle Richard, Cortland State
• 2019: Blake Anderson, Arkansas State

Tulsa’s Zaven Collins wins 2020 Bronko Nagurski Trophy

CHARLOTTE, N.C.  – Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins, a playmaker who helped seal two of his team’s six wins with interceptions and sparked the Golden Hurricane’s rise to the American Athletic Conference Championship Game, was named the recipient of the 2020 Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the college football’s national defensive player of the year by the Football Writers Association of America.

Collins is the first Tulsa player to win any of the current on-field performance awards and becomes the Golden Hurricane’s first FWAA All-American since offensive lineman Jerry Ostroski in 1991. He was selected from among five finalists that also included Coastal Carolina defensive end Tarron Jackson, Iowa defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon, Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II.

The FWAA All-America Committee selected Collins as this year’s Bronko Nagurski Trophy recipient after voting from the entire membership. The official presentation of the award by the FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club, the award’s sponsor, will occur at a later date.

Zaven Collins

Collins, a 6-4, 260-pound junior from Hominy, Okla., was a unanimous choice as The American Defensive Player of the Year and the first player in league history to earn any unanimous player-of-the-year designation. He registered 53 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and four sacks in the regular season along with a fumble recovery and breaking up two passes. His four interceptions tied for fifth nationally among all players and tied for the national lead among linebackers with three others. Two of his takeaways were returned for touchdowns, including a highlight-reel 96-yard pick-six that was the game-winning score in overtime against Tulane. He is the first player from Tulsa to be named as the AAC’s Defensive Player of the Year.

“I’m honored and blessed to receive the Bronko Nagurski Trophy. It’s awe-inspiring to be mentioned in the same breath as Bronko Nagurski and the many great players who won this award before me,” Collins said. “I’m so thankful for this honor and for all the people who have put me in this position – my family, coaches, teammates and fan base. I can’t thank the coaching staff and my teammates enough. Coach G (Defensive Coordinator Joe Gillespie) and Coach Monty (Head Coach Philip Montgomery) have pushed me, and the absolute best teammates have helped make me better each day. I’m thrilled to represent my family, the city of Tulsa and The University of Tulsa in receiving the Bronko Nagurski Trophy.”

Collins was the Bronko Nagurski Trophy’s National Player of the Week for the weekend of Nov. 14 following another of his highlight interceptions in a 28-24 win over SMU. Collins corralled a pass at midfield with 1:29 left to thwart an SMU rally. It was the first time a Tulsa player had earned the weekly honor and Collins’ play helped post a second-half shutout of SMU – then the eighth-best total offense in the country – while Tulsa navigated its 21-point comeback that spurred its jaunt to the American Conference Championship Game.

His athleticism and range on the field is easy to spot. Collins, a 2018 FWAA Freshman All-America selection, was a quarterback in high school who happened to also play safety and linebacker. He was a four-year starter on both offense and defense, accounting for 7,140 all-purpose yards and 86 rushing and passing touchdowns in his high school career.

In four games against top-25 opponents this season (Oklahoma State, UCF, SMU and Cincinnati) Collins had 25 solo tackles among his 35 total stops and 10 TFL’s for minus-45 yards and four sacks. His other pick-six was a 38-yard touchdown at USF. He was The American’s Defensive Player of the Week three times following seven games.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to have a young man like Zaven Collins be recognized as the Bronko Nagurski winner,” Tulsa head coach Philip Montgomery said. “Being mentioned with the likes of former award-winners such as Warren Sapp and Charles Woodson and carrying on the name of the original tough guy himself, Bronko Nagurski, is a tremendous honor. He was a guy who played multiple positions and played the game at a high level with so much passion and grit. I think Zaven embodies what Bronko Nagurski and this award represent. To have the Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner come from our University, what an honor!

“Zaven Collins is what college football is all about. He does a great job in the classroom, does everything you ask of him on and off the field, is a great leader and a great teammate. He has always put his team in front of himself. Even with the recognition he has received this year, he’d be the first one to tell you he hasn’t done that by himself. It’s been with the help of a lot of his teammates pushing him, coaches pushing him and his dedication to being great. He’s done that same thing in the classroom. This is a young man who has poured a lot into being a true student-athlete and being a winner on both sides of that.”

No. 24 Tulsa is scheduled to take on Mississippi State in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas, on Dec. 31.

The American Conference has Temple linebacker Tyler Matakevich as a former winner in 2015 and Collins was the AAC’s fourth all-time finalist, the most recent being Houston tackle Ed Oliver in 2017.

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 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.

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.

About the Charlotte Touchdown Club
The Charlotte Touchdown Club is a non-profit organization founded in 1990 for the purpose of promoting high school, collegiate, and professional football in the Charlotte, N.C., region. The club’s activities and services focus community attention on the outstanding citizenship, scholarship, sportsmanship, and leadership of area athletes and coaches. Since 1990, the club has raised more than $2 million to benefit area high school and collegiate athletics. For more information, contact John Rocco (704-347-2918 or jrocco@touchdownclub.com). The official website of the Charlotte Touchdown Club is touchdownclub.com.

About LendingTree, Inc.
LendingTree is the nation’s leading online marketplace that connects consumers with the choices they need to be confident in their financial decisions. LendingTree empowers consumers to shop for financial services the same way they would shop for airline tickets or hotel stays, by comparing multiple offers from a nationwide network of over 500 partners in one simple search and choosing the option that best fits their financial needs. Services include mortgage loans, mortgage refinances, auto loans, personal loans, business loans, student refinances, credit cards, insurance and more. Through the My LendingTree platform, consumers receive free credit scores, credit monitoring and recommendations to improve credit health. My LendingTree proactively compares consumers’ credit accounts against offers on their network and notifies consumers when there is an opportunity to save money. LendingTree’s purpose is to help simplify financial decisions for life’s meaningful moments through choice, education and support.

Related links:
• Preseason Watch List | Finalists
• All-time Bronko Nagurski Trophy winners, finalists
• Download the Bronko Nagurski Trophy presented by LendingTree logo: Primary (.jpg) | Primary (.eps)