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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 214-870-6516.
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.”
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.
FWAA members can submit entries in the 2020 Best Writing Contest until July 1.
Game Story (Immediate Deadline)
In addition, we have created the Beat Writer of the Year Award for the top beat writer as judged by a special FWAA committee headed by FWAA board member Mark Blaudschun of The Media Guides. See separate nomination/entry procedure below.
BEST WRITING CONTEST RULES
You must be an FWAA member in good standing to enter.
Deadline: July 1, 2021. Entries sent after the deadline WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.
Limit: One (1) article per category, although a series of articles may be submitted in the enterprise category.
Entries must have appeared in print or on line between Feb. 1, 2020, and Jan. 31, 2021.
Entries must be submitted electronically to email@example.com. Entries not sent to this e-mail address will not be accepted.
Send MS Word or text files only. DO NOT SEND HTML files, Word Perfect files, stories in other word processing software or links to stories on the Internet or electronic libraries.
Make your entry easy to read by taking out unnecessary carriage returns (They can give your entry an odd look when opened by a judge’s word processing program).
Delete any embedded advertising, photos and cutlines from the files (The file should contain only your story and your identifying information).
At the top of each entry, the following information should be included:
Publication or online service
Date of publication
E-mail address and telephone number for the writer(s) of the entry.
The entries will be sorted and stripped of identifying information and forwarded to the judge(s).
Files containing your entries should follow this naming convention: yourname-category.doc
The category must be one of these four words: Game, Feature, Enterprise or Column
Questions on the Best Writing Contest? E-mail Ken Stephens at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FWAA BEAT WRITER OF THE YEAR AWARD
If you have a nomination of a beat writer who covers major college football (either a team or a conference) or you want to nominate yourself, please send an e-mail/letter explaining the qualifications of the person (no more than 250 words) to:
Mark Blaudschun TMG Sports 497 Country Way Scituate. MA 02066 email@example.com Cell: 617-758-9011
Mark and his committee will then make inquiries into the FWAA members nominated. In order to qualify for this award the person nominated must have been an FWAA member during the 2020 football season.
This is the first in a series of stories on Outland Trophy winners from 2006-2020. From 1946-2005, the first 60 of Outland Trophy winners were profiled in the book 60 Years of the Outland Trophy by Gene Duffey. In celebration of the Outland Trophy’s 75th Anniversary we are catching up with the last 15 recipients.
(Offensive Tackle Joe Thomas played 11 seasons in the National Football League (2007-2017) – all with the Cleveland Browns. Considered one of the best linemen in college and NFL history, Thomas went to the Pro Bowl 10 times before retiring following the 2017 season. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2019.)
By Gene Duffey, Author
Wisconsin was rolling again during the 2006 football season. The Badgers, after a loss at Michigan, had ripped Indiana 52-17 on the road.
Offensive tackle Joe Thomas, who would win the Outland Trophy that year, and his teammates were in a good mood returning to Madison. He shared a house with two other players, cornerback Ben Strickland and deep snapper Steve Johnson.
The trio had been teammates in high school at Brookfield, Wis., about an hour away. The fourth member of their group, Luke Homan, had gone to Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he played basketball for two years, then transferred to Wisconsin-La Crosse.
It was the last weekend of September. There had been an Oktoberfest party in La Crosse and the three Wisconsin players received word that Homan was missing.
“Nobody had heard from him,” said Thomas. “We went up there Sunday morning and spent the whole day looking for him.”
By Sunday night the police brought in the dogs to search for Homan. They traced his scent to the river.
“It kind of hit you,” said Thomas. The three buddies would never see their close friend again. Monday morning police divers found Homan’s body in the river.
Homan and Thomas lived only five minutes apart in Brookfield. They attended different schools but began playing on the same basketball team in third grade. Homan’s father was their coach.
“Losing such a good friend at such a young age was tough,” said Thomas. “I’d never gone through tragedy in my life. (Luke) was an only child. I was close with his parents.”
The funeral was Thursday. Wisconsin’s coaches understood how hard Homan’s death hit Thomas. They allowed their All-American left tackle to practice only one day that week in preparing for the game with Northwestern.
Saturday provided Thomas with a little relief. For a few hours he was able to focus on football. Wisconsin won, 41-9. The games the rest of the season allowed him to keep everything together.
“It was a great way to get your mind off (Homan’s death) and refocus,” said Thomas.
Virtually everything else went right for Joe Thomas in 2006. Wisconsin never lost again after the Michigan game, concluding the season 12-1 by beating Arkansas in the Citrus Bowl.
Thomas dominated the Big Ten opponents who lined up across from him.
“There is not going to be another Joe Thomas, so you better appreciate him while you’ve got him,” said Paul Chryst, then Wisconsin’s offensive coordinator and now its head coach. “To never have to worry about that side (of the line).”
Getting ready for that senior year took some extra effort by Thomas. He suffered a torn ACL in a bowl victory over Auburn at the end of his junior year – playing defense!
Wisconsin lost two defensive ends before the bowl and desperately needed help at the position. Thomas volunteered.
He had played defensive end in high school and actually started there as a true freshman in the Music City Bowl, also against Auburn. Now, two years later, he was back on the defensive side of the ball.
“I practiced about 10 plays every day on defense,” he said. “It came natural. It was so much fun during one-on-one pass rushes, going against my offensive linemates.”
The Badgers used Thomas on offense and defense in the bowl game.
“I had some good plays and was really getting excited about playing defense again,” he said. “About the sixth play (on defense) I was pursuing Kenny Irons. I had to stop and kind of veer. I felt my knee go a way my knee never went before.”
Thomas was done for the day. But Wisconsin won 24-10.
A doctor told him it was probably a torn ACL in the right knee. He watched the rest of the game propped up against a big trunk with ice on the knee. “I tried to cheer on my teammates,” he said. “Eric VandenHeuvel (a true freshman) came in and played great for me.”
Thomas underwent surgery Jan. 19 and rehabbed 2 ½-3 hours a day. He had competed for the track team, throwing the shot and discus, his first two years at Wisconsin. He missed both track season and spring practice that year, working his knee back into shape.
“It was long, but wasn’t that hard,” he said of the rehab process. “I treated it like practices. There were a few tough days. In the middle I was kind of frustrated.”
“There were a lot of unknowns,” Chryst said of Thomas’ injury. “He had to go through a lot of rehabbing. Nothing Joe does surprises you.”
When fall camp started in August, Thomas was ready to play, although he usually sat out the afternoon workout during two-a-days. “I was full go in the scrimmages,” he said.
Thomas inherited some of his football talent from his father, Eric, who had played in high school but had his career ended by a knee injury.
Joe first tried organized football in seventh grade, starting out as a fullback. He moved to defensive end and tight end for eighth grade.
He never played offensive tackle until his senior year at Central High in Brookfield.
“The natural position for me was always defensive end,” he said. “I was good at defense from the beginning. It took me a while to learn offense. I got a lot of passes at tight end.”
Although he hadn’t yet found a home at offensive tackle, everyone from USC to Miami began recruiting Thomas his junior year. “By (then) I knew football was going to be my ticket,” he said.
Coaches liked his athleticism. Thomas also played basketball in high school and became an all-state selection.
“He was a high profile recruit,” said Chryst. “You knew he was a heck of a basketball player, phenomenal in track. But to achieve what he did (in football), I don’t think you put that on any kid.”
Thomas took official visits to Virginia Tech, Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas, as well as Wisconsin. He made two unofficial visits to Notre Dame.
“At the beginning I was sold on going away to college,” he said.
When decision time neared, Thomas figured it would be Wisconsin or Notre Dame. He had grown up a Badgers fan.
The Wisconsin coaches believed that Thomas could be an outstanding offensive tackle. But they weren’t going to lose him based on position.
“We want you to come here and want you to play tight end, defensive end, offensive tackle, wherever you want to play,” they told him. Thomas was like the gorilla who turns into a house pet. He can sleep anywhere he wants.
Track still factored into the equation.
He competed in the shot put and discus his first two years at Wisconsin, part of the deal when he was recruited. “I missed quite a few spring practices and meetings,” said Thomas. But he finished second in the in the shot at the Big Ten Indoor and Outdoor Meets as a sophomore.
“Joe’s extremely bright,” said Chryst. “He could see through a lot of the recruiting BS. He wanted to compete in track and football. (Coach Barry) Alvarez and the track coach worked out a schedule for him ahead of time (so that he could play both sports). Joe knew it was a good fit for him.”
Thomas began his college career working out as an offensive tackle.
He practiced there most of his freshman year. He played a little that season, occasionally pulling a No. 82 jersey over his regular No. 72 so that he could line up as a second tight end in Wisconsin’s Jumbo Offense.
“He never redshirted,” said Bret Bielema, who became the Wisconsin head coach for Thomas’ senior season. “He was a natural guy.”
Starting defensive end Darius Jones was injured in the last game of the regular season in 2003, Thomas’ freshman year. The Badgers backups weren’t very big and they needed help on the defensive line to face Auburn in the Music City Bowl. Thomas moved to the other side of the ball.
“In high school I was a really good at defensive end,” he said. “I went over for a practice and was kind of an instant hit.”
Thomas started the bowl game and made seven tackles, but the Badgers couldn’t stop Auburn running backs Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams. Wisconsin lost, 28-14.
He returned to offense in the spring and started at left tackle in the opener of his sophomore year against Central Florida.
“I was the rookie,” he said. “Dan Buenning was the left guard and he was my mentor. ‘Don’t worry kid, I’ll tell you what to do,’ ” Buenning told him.
“I did play pretty well,” Thomas said of the opener, a 34-6 Wisconsin victory. “I didn’t make any big mistakes or give up any sacks.”
Soon the coaches realized they had somebody special at left tackle.
“People said it, but I don’t know if I believed it,” said Thomas. “I never believed the hype.”
Wisconsin fielded an outstanding front four at the time, led by defensive end Erasmus James, a finalist for the 2004 Lombardi Trophy. All four of the defensive linemen went on to the NFL. “I got to practice against those guys every day and it really elevated my game,” said Thomas.
The Badgers finished the season 9-2 and faced Georgia in the Outback Bowl. Thomas lined up against David Pollack, the Bulldogs’ All-American defensive end.
“I knew all the awards he was up for that year,” said Thomas. “I really made it a point to study him. I played outstanding. By the end of the (first) half they moved him to the other side because I was handling him.”
Georgia won, but Thomas was anything but a loser.
He started every game at left tackle as a junior in 2005. He was told before the bowl game that he would probably be one of the top 10 players taken in NFL Draft, if he considered leaving college a year early.
“His junior year you knew he was an elite athlete,” said Chryst. “He was obviously gifted, but he was a hard worker with competitive desire. He’s ultra competitive. He wanted to be the best, and not in a bragadocchia way. He critiques himself.”
Luckily for the Badgers he decided to stay. Wisconsin recruited another offensive tackle from Cottage Grove, Wis. that year. Gabe Carimi redshirted in Thomas’ senior year, studied the All-American and followed him at left tackle in 2007.
Carimi went on to win the Outland Trophy in 2010.
Coach Barry Alvarez announced before the 2005 season, which was Thomas’ junior year, that this would be his final season coaching the Badgers before becoming the school’s full-time athletic director. What bothered Thomas most was that after the season, Wisconsin’s offensive line coach, Jim Huber, announced that he would be leaving too, to become an assistant with the Minnesota Vikings.
“I was really sad about it,” said Thomas. “If I hadn’t hurt my knee, this might have affected my decision to (apply for the draft). I didn’t have the option of going to the NFL at that point. You never know how you’re going to get along with the new coach.”
Bob Palcic came from the New Orleans Saints to replace Huber and coach the offensive line. He had coached 1995 Outland Trophy winner Jonathan Ogden at UCLA.
“It ended up working out great,” said Thomas. “We kept the same offensive coordinator and a lot of the same blocking schemes.”
Bret Bielema, Wisconsin’s defensive coordinator, was promoted to coach, succeeding Alvarez.
“The thing I loved about Joe is he came to compete every day,” said Bielema. “He’s very intelligent. A very gifted person. When Joe spoke people listened. There’s only one Joe Thomas.”
Thomas admitted to being a little tentative beginning his senior year because of the torn ACL from the bowl game.
“I kind of fought with (the mental part) the first couple of games because you don’t trust your knee,” he said. “I didn’t have a lot of confidence in the knee.”
Wisconsin faced Michigan in its Big Ten opener at Ann Arbor. The Wolverines, who featured three outstanding defensive ends, including 2006 Lombardi Award winner LaMarr Woodley, won, 27-13. But Thomas regained confidence in his knee.
“I didn’t think about it (after that),” he said. “I wasn’t worried about anyone falling on it.”
The Michigan game was Wisconsin’s only loss of the season.
Ohio State, which wasn’t on Wisconsin’s schedule that year, went undefeated in the regular season before losing to Florida in the national championship game.
“I don’t think anybody thought we’d go 12-1,” said Thomas. “I think most of the season we did get underrated. We had the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in the country in our conference.”
The Badgers were matched against Arkansas in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando. They weren’t afraid of playing another SEC team after beating Auburn the year before.
“We had heard how great Arkansas was,” said Thomas. “It was the same situation the year before. Auburn definitely overlooked us.”
No one overlooked Joe Thomas when he became the No. 3 pick in the 2007 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns.
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
Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina
Indian Trail, N.C.
Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma
Ulysses Bentley IV, SMU
Kyren Williams, Notre Dame
St. Louis, Mo.
• Kayshon Boutte, LSU
New Iberia, La.
• Marvin Mims, Oklahoma
Tahj Washington, Memphis
Matt Goncalves, Pitt
Jeremy James, Ole Miss
• Willie Lampkin, Coastal Carolina
Warren McClendon, Georgia
• Peter Skoronski, Northwestern
Park Ridge, Ill.
Tyler Smith, Tulsa
Fort Worth, Texas
Ricky Barber, WKU
• Khari Coleman, TCU
New Orleans, La.
Calijah Kancey, Pitt
• Myles Murphy, Clemson
• Will Anderson Jr., Alabama
• Tyler Grubbs, Louisiana Tech
New Orleans, La.
• Noah Sewell, Oregon
Malaeimi, American Samoa
• Stefon Thompson, Syracuse
Derrick Canteen, Georgia Southern
Jalen Catalon, Arkansas
• Emmanuel Forbes, Mississippi State
Brandon Joseph, Northwestern
College Station, Texas
• Malachi Moore, Alabama
• Eli Ricks, LSU
Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
• John Hoyland, Wyoming
• Tory Taylor, Iowa
• Trayvon Rudolph, NIU
Demario Douglas, Liberty
• Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State
Round Rock, Texas
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
DALLAS, Texas — Sid Hartman, who first joined the Football Writers Association of America in 1945, has posthumously been named the recipient of the association’s Lifetime Achievement Award for the 2020 season.
At 100 years of age, Hartman was still a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and did a weekly sports radio show until his death. He turned 100 on March 15, 2020, and passed away on October 18, 2020, still working at his craft.
The FWAA started naming a Lifetime Achievement Award winner eight years ago. The first recipient in 2013 was Art Spander of the San Francisco Examiner, followed by Bill Little (University of Texas) in 2014, Irv Moss (Denver Post) in 2015, OK (Buddy) Davis (Ruston Daily Leader) in 2016, Mike Finn (ACC) in 2017, Dave Plati (University of Colorado) in 2018 and Wright Waters (Football Bowl Association) and Paul Hoolahan (Sugar Bowl) in 2019.
Hartman is by far the oldest person to receive the award in its relatively short history. The award goes to an FWAA member or someone close to the organization who has contributed greatly to either college football, the writing profession or the FWAA.
“He was an ageless wonder,” said FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson. “At an age when most people were well into retirement, he still punched a time clock and performed every week. He was older by decades than most of the people he was interviewing, but one would have never known it. He was plugged into the Minnesota sports scene. It is truly a remarkable story.”
Bob Hammel, 1992 FWAA President and 1996 Bert McGrane recipient, remembers Hartman when each summer he attended the FWAA Annual Meetings around the now defunct Chicago Charities College All-Star Game (ended in 1976). Hammel recognizes Hartman as a great promoter of the FWAA during those years.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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
Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
Breece Hall, Iowa State
Najee Harris, Alabama
Jaelon Darden, North Texas
DeVonta Smith, Alabama
Kyle Pitts, Florida
Wyatt Davis, Ohio State
Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame
Kenyon Green, Texas A&M
Alex Leatherwood, Alabama
Landon Dickerson, Alabama
JaQuan Bailey, Iowa State
Tarron Jackson, Coastal Carolina
Daviyon Nixon, Iowa
Rashad Weaver, Pitt
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Zaven Collins, Tulsa
Joseph Ossai, Texas
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame
Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati
Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
Tiawan Mullen, Indiana
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Patrick Surtain II, Alabama
Jose Borregales, Miami
Pressley Harvin III, Georgia Tech
Avery Williams, Boise State
Marcus Jones, Houston
Travis Etienne, Clemson
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 email@example.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).