2022 Outland Trophy watch list unveiled

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2022 OUTLAND TROPHY PRESEASON WATCH LIST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sports Illustrated’s Johnson wins Edward Aschoff Rising Star Award

DALLAS – Richard Johnson of Sports Illustrated is the recipient of the third Edward Aschoff Rising Star Award, which is presented annually by the Football Writers Association of America and named after the beloved ESPN college football reporter who died on Christmas Eve in 2019 on his 34th birthday from previously undetected Stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in his lungs.

Richard Johnson

“I count all my experiences in this field as continued education and there are too many editors and writers to name who have made me better and helped me along the way. I grew up reading many of them as a lifelong college football fan and it’s been incredible to get to know them as I grow in journalism.” 

Johnson started at Sports Illustrated  in the fall of 2021. He is known for his long-form storytelling, expertise on the coaching industry, and in depth reporting on the intersection of college sports and social justice with a blend of analysis and candor,

In 2021, Grace Raynor, who covers the Clemson Tigers for The Athletic, won the second Rising Star award. David Ubben, also of The Athletic, was the first recipient in 2020 as a beat reporter for the Tennessee Volunteers.

“Richard’s writing in particular is a combination of what makes all the best people in this business, “Ubben said. “It’s informative, well-reported and entertaining. And his television and podcast work has made him a breath of fresh air in a business where some can get stale. His work always includes interesting perspective and anyone who reads something from Richard will finish it having learned something.

“The people who can do that consistently are growing rare. I couldn’t be happier that Richard won this award. He’s everything right about sports writing and makes me so excited about the future.”     

In honor of Aschoff, a bright light in the sports journalism industry, the FWAA in 2020 decided to recognize one promising journalist no older than 34, who has not only the talent and work ethic it takes to succeed in this business, but also the passion to make it better. Aschoff, a 2008 graduate of the University of Florida, loved people, and even as his career at ESPN escalated, he still guided and befriended younger journalists along the way.

Johnson, a University of Florida alum like Aschoff, knew Ed personally. The two actually spent time together, most recently in the spring of 2018 when they were reporting stories at Arizona State at the same time. They went to a Phoenix Suns game together. 

“I remember when the FWAA announced this award a couple years ago,” Johnson said. “I immediately knew that I wanted to win it, and I guess it’s time to move past my jealousy of past winners David and Grace – I kid as they’re both great reporters who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting on the road the last few years.

“Ed is a prime example of how representation matters,” Johnson added. “There are unfortunately too few Black people covering this sport, and for as long as I’d known him, seeing Ed on television or his byline on the website was proof positive that he’d made it in this industry and that I could too. You could say I basically followed his blueprint from UF’s journalism school to covering the Gators all the way to ESPN, and it was an honor to shout him out during my first season on the SEC Network.”

Johnson began his professional career at ESPN in 2015 and later joined SB Nation as a national college football writer the following year. He spent four years working for the site before starting at Sports Illustrated in the fall of 2021.  Johnson co-hosts the SEC Network show “Thinking Out Loud” in addition to co-hosting the college football podcast “Split Zone Duo.” He also makes regular appearances across ESPN linear and digital programming.

He is a co-author of “The Sinful Seven: Sci-Fi Western Legends of the NCAA” – an illustrated e-book about the history of college sports.  Johnson, now based in Brooklyn, began his career as a writer for The Independent Florida Alligator student newspaper.

“Outside of the fact that he knew Ed and looked up to him, RJ has been growing as a writer on our staff, in addition to his continuing SEC Network duties,” said Sports Illustrated Executive Editor Joy Russo in nominating Johnson for the award. “…He has been determined to expand his sourcing profile across the sport, but has also been committed to covering race and inequities within football – the latter has been newer territory for him within the sport, but he’s been dedicated to finding more stories to tell there.”

Samples of Richard’s work:

https://www.si.com/nfl/2022/04/22/matt-araiza-nfl-draft-viral-punter

https://www.si.com/college/2022/04/14/florida-football-billy-napier-recruiting-spring

https://www.si.com/college/2021/10/14/texas-am-fake-recruit-locker-room-tiktok-video

“It may sound corny, and I don’t care, this really is more than just a trophy to me. “Johnson said. “This is Ed’s legacy, and I’m honored to be able to play a part in continuing it.”

Remembering Edward Aschoff

Aschoff moved to Los Angeles in 2017 to begin a more expanded national role that included television coverage. Over three seasons, he reported from campuses across the country for ESPN.com, SportsCenter, SEC Network and ESPN Radio, and he worked as a television and radio sideline reporter during college football games.

Edward Aschoff

Aschoff inspired us through his storytelling, brightened our lives with his gregarious personality, and uplifted our spirits with his energy. The FWAA hopes to honor his memory and his commitment to aspiring journalists with this award.

“Edward epitomized everything you want in a sports journalist: He knew how to build relationships, to gain trust, to break stories but also to tell stories,” said ESPN.com’s Andrea Adelson. “And he did it all with a flair that made you want to watch his television pieces or read his written stories right away. His dogged determination and relentless work ethic allowed him to rise to the top at ESPN, and all his exemplary qualities serve as a model for young journalists everywhere about what truly can be achieved if you go after what you want.” The University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications has established the Edward Aschoff Memorial Fund, which will provide support for students involved in sports journalism.

“Edward was one of our stars – not just because he was so talented as a journalist and storyteller, but also because of everything he did to help people around him. He always had a good word of advice for young journalists, he was always willing to give back, and he always made people smile,” said Ted Spiker, chair of the department of journalism at the University of Florida who taught Edward in several classes at UF.

Jordan McPherson, a student reporter at Florida from 2013-17 who is now covering the Miami Marlins for the Miami Herald, said Aschoff helped him on several occasions. “He was a pro’s pro and touched my life with just a few brief interactions that he didn’t have to make,” McPherson said. “His positivity was infectious, his ability to mentor through simple conversation was second to none. He will be missed, but always be remembered.”

Deadline for entries in FWAA Best Writing Contest extended until July 15

FWAA members can begin submitting entries in the 30th Annual Best Writing Contest immediately.  The deadline is July 15.

CATEGORIES

  • Game Story (Immediate Deadline)
  • Feature Story/Profile
  • Enterprise/Investigative
  • Column/Analysis/Commentary

In addition, we have the Beat Writer of the Year Award for the top beat writer as judged by a special FWAA committee headed by FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson. See separate nomination/entry procedure below.

BEST WRITING CONTEST RULES

You must be an FWAA member in good standing to enter.

Deadline: July 15, 2022. 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, 2021, and Jan. 31, 2022.

Entries must be submitted electronically to contest@fwaa.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:

  • Writer(s)
  • Publication or online service
  • Category
  • 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

Example: KenStephens-game.doc.

Questions on the Best Writing Contest? E-mail Ken Stephens at ken.stephens@sbcglobal.net.

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:

  • Steve Richardson
  • FWAA
  • 18652 Vista Del Sol
  • Dallas, TX 75287
  • tiger@fwaa.com
  • Cell: 214-870-6516

Steve 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 2021 football season.

FWAA selects ‘Super 11’ for 2021 season

DALLAS – Three first-time winners and eight previous ones comprise the 13th Annual Super 11 Awards, which the Football Writers Association of America rewards annually to the best performing sports information departments in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The awards announced this week are for the 2021 season.

In addition, the FWAA presented a Super 11 Coach of the Year Award to Boston College Coach Jeff Hafley who granted outstanding access to his program during the 2021 season. He is the fourth head coach to win this award, which began with the 2018 season.

As for the 2021 departmental awards, Clemson and Colorado each collected a ninth award and Nebraska an eighth. Navy won for a fifth time, Kansas State a fourth time, and Iowa, Miami (Fla.) and Ole Miss each a second time.

The first-time recipients in the award series, which dates back to the 2009 season, are Louisville, New Mexico and South Carolina. Seven of the 10 FBS Conferences are represented among the 11 winners.

Sports information offices in some cases were still doing zoom calls for interviews, but there were also many in-person interviews with players, head coaches and assistant coaches observing social distancing and health safety protocols when interacting with the media.

“The 2020 and 2021 football seasons featured unprecedented challenges for all of us, but some sports information departments worked with coaches and players to go above and beyond and to make sure media could do their jobs and provide fans with the information they crave,” said David Ubben, 2022 FWAA President. “That allows all of us to have jobs, and we’re appreciative of these departments for providing that access while also making sure both media and members of football programs remain safe. College football is better and grows when sports information departments are able to provide as much access as possible.”

This year’s winners were deemed to have had excellent accessibility during the week of the game and after the game – with a program’s players, coaches and assistant coaches – along with the other listed criteria on page 22 of the 2021-22 FWAA Directory.

“What is always encouraging is that we had first-time winners,” said FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson. “Our membership wants access to players and coaches after games, of course, but also for human interest and analytical stories during the week. Assistant coaches are also part of the mix that give stories depth. Over the years, for a variety of reasons this access has been restricted.

“We believe there are many good stories out there that can be told if they are allowed to be told if our members are allowed good access.”

FWAA members provided input during the season and made comments in an FWAA Awards survey after the 2021 season. In addition, SID press boxes were judged on how well they were run and maintained in terms of neutrality, pool reporters and noise level that could affect a media person’s ability to do his or her job. In recent years, the availability of nearby press parking has become a plus.

In January 2009, the FWAA formed the first Super 11 Committee. The concept is supported by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). The FWAA has awarded Super 11 to 77 different programs over the years.

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

The 2021 Super 11
Clemson (9)
Colorado (9)
Iowa (2)
Kansas State (4)
Louisville (1)
Miami (2)
Ole Miss (2)
Navy (5)
Nebraska (8)
New Mexico (1)
South Carolina (1)

2021 Super 11 Coach of the Year
Jeff Hafley, Boston College

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

Reminder to FWAA members: Enter the 30th Annual FWAA Best Writing Contest

FWAA members can begin submitting entries in the 30th Annual Best Writing Contest immediately.  The deadline is July 1.

CATEGORIES

  • Game Story (Immediate Deadline)
  • Feature Story/Profile
  • Enterprise/Investigative
  • Column/Analysis/Commentary

In addition, we have the Beat Writer of the Year Award for the top beat writer as judged by a special FWAA committee headed by FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson. See separate nomination/entry procedure below.

BEST WRITING CONTEST RULES

You must be an FWAA member in good standing to enter.

Deadline: July 1, 2022. 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, 2021, and Jan. 31, 2022.

Entries must be submitted electronically to contest@fwaa.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:

  • Writer(s)
  • Publication or online service
  • Category
  • 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

Example: KenStephens-game.doc.

Questions on the Best Writing Contest? E-mail Ken Stephens at ken.stephens@sbcglobal.net.

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:

  • Steve Richardson
  • FWAA
  • 18652 Vista Del Sol
  • Dallas, TX 75287
  • tiger@fwaa.com
  • Cell: 214-870-6516

Steve 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 2021 football season.

Nominations sought 2022 Armed Forces Merit Award

Fort Worth, TexasNominations are now being accepted for the 2022 Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).

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

With the 2022 recipient being announced Thursday, November 11, 2022, nominations for the 2022 Armed Forces Merit Award will be accepted through October 1 when a selection committee of seven FWAA members and two representatives from the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl will review the list of candidates for the 11th annual presentation.

“We are pleased to join with the Football Writers Association of America to honor an individual with a military background or group that works with our armed services that has an impact within college football,” said Brant Ringler, the executive director of the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.

FWAA executive director Steve Richardson echoed Ringler’s sentiments along with adding that “we have an outstanding list of candidates each year and it is difficult to honor only one recipient when there are several individuals and programs that are very deserving of the honor.”

With 31 nominations (28 individuals and three programs) considered for the 2021 award, University of Nebraska linebacker Damien Jackson was selected as the 10th recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award.  A Cornhusker walk-on in 2007 after serving four years in the military as a member of the Navy SEALs, Jackson was placed on scholarship for the 2020 season and has played in the 20 games for Nebraska.

Jackson Has made the Big 10 All-Academic team that last four seasons.  Before his military service, Jackson played baseball and soccer at Shadow Ridge High in Las Vegas, Nev. A child, youth and family studies major, Jackson earned his degree in December of 2021.  He has volunteered his time with the Nebraska Football Road Race, a Day of Service and local hospital visits.

Past recipients of the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA include Nate Boyer of the University of Texas (2012), Brandon McCoy of the University of North Texas (2013), Daniel Rodriguez from Clemson University (2014), Bret Robertson of Westminster College (Fulton, Mo., 2015), Steven Rhodes from Middle Tennessee State University (2016), Dr. Chris Howard from Robert Morris University (2018), Army West Point assistant coach Mike Viti (2019) and Collin O’Donnell of Bluefield College of Virginia.

Kansas State and its football team were honored in November 2017 as the sixth recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award for the university’s partnership with the United States Army that created a bond between the school’s athletic department and the Iron Rangers at Fort Riley.

Nominations for the 2022  Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA should be submitted to Tim Simmons (bfishinc@aol.com, 303/678-8484), the award’s coordinator, by October 1. The nomination link can be found at https://www.armedforcesbowl.com/armed-forces#meritaward-section.

2022 Nominations

Programs (7)

  • Athletes Of Valor, Alex Stone, Founder & CEO, Athletes of Valor (U. S. Marines)
  • Battlefields To Ballfields, Mike Pereira, CEO/President/Director
  • Bronze Boot Run – Laramie to Fort Collins prior to the Wyoming at Colorado State football game
  • National Association of College Directors of Athletics, Wounded Warrior Project
  • Thomas University Military Transition Initiative
  • Georgia Military College, Milledgeville, Ga.
  • New Mexico Military Institute, Roswell, N.M.

Active Players (1)

  • Kyran Griffin-Isom, Troy University, WR, 6-3, 169, Jun., New Orleans, La. (U. S. Marines)

Football Coaching Staff (19)

  • Troy Calhoun, Head Coach, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Jake Campbell, Assistant Backfield, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • C.B. Cornett, Volunteer Coach-Linebackers, Georgia Military College (U. S. Marines Corps)
  • Robert Green, Cornerbacks & Director of Racial Equality, United States Naval Academy (U. S. Marine Corps)
  • Charlie Jackson, Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Backs, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Brian Knorr, Inside Linebackers, U. S. Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Ken Lamendola, Inside Linebackers, U. S. Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Steed Lobotzke, Offensive Line, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Curtis Luper, Running Backs, Missouri (U. S. Army)
  • Alex Means, Outside Linebackers, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Ben Miller, Special Teams Coordinator/Tight Ends Coach, Illinois (U. S. Air Force)
  • Blane Morgan, Head Coach, Lamar University (U. S. Air Force)
  • Andre Morris, Spurs, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • John Rudzinski, Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs, Virginia (U. S. Air Force)
  • Brett Skene, Offensive Assistant, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Trent Steelman, Quarterbacks, Eastern Kentucky University (U. S. Army)
  • Mike Thiessen, Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Charlton Warren, Co-Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs, North Carolina (U. S. Air Force)
  • Mick Yokitis, Wide Receivers, United States Naval Academy (U. S. Navy)

Football Support Staff (9)

  • Clayton Kendrick-Holmes, Chief of Staff/Football Operations, United States Military Academy (U. S. Navy)
  • Chris Lehmann, Colorado & Colorado State Football, Wyoming Air National Guard
  • LTC John Nawoichyk, Assistant AD/Military Operations, United States Military Academy (U. S. Army)
  • Omar Nelson, Director of Player Development, United States Naval Academy (U. S. Navy)
  • CPT Blake Powers, Admission Support, United States Military Academy (U. S. Army)
  • Trey Reed, Assistant Athletic Director, Athletic Communications, Midwestern State (U. S. Army)
  • Steve Senn, Director of Recruiting, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Jordon Simmons, Assistant Head Coach – Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, Colorado State (U. S. Army)
  • Rusty Whitt, Football Strength & Conditioning Coach, Troy (U. S. Army)

University Leadership (3)

  • Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Chancellor of Troy (U. S. Marine Corps)
  • im Knowlton, Director of Athletics, California (U. S. Army)
  • Natesh Rao, Senior Associate Athletic Director, Arizona State (U. S. Navy)

Call for entries: Submit your work for the 30th Annual FWAA Best Writing Contest 1

FWAA members can begin submitting entries in the 30th Annual Best Writing Contest immediately.  The deadline is July 1.

CATEGORIES

  • Game Story (Immediate Deadline)
  • Feature Story/Profile
  • Enterprise/Investigative
  • Column/Analysis/Commentary

In addition, we have the Beat Writer of the Year Award for the top beat writer as judged by a special FWAA committee headed by FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson. See separate nomination/entry procedure below.

BEST WRITING CONTEST RULES

You must be an FWAA member in good standing to enter.

Deadline: July 1, 2022. 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, 2021, and Jan. 31, 2022.

Entries must be submitted electronically to contest@fwaa.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:

  • Writer(s)
  • Publication or online service
  • Category
  • 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

Example: KenStephens-game.doc.

Questions on the Best Writing Contest? E-mail Ken Stephens at ken.stephens@sbcglobal.net.

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:

  • Steve Richardson
  • FWAA
  • 18652 Vista Del Sol
  • Dallas, TX 75287
  • tiger@fwaa.com
  • Cell: 214-870-6516

Steve 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 2021 football season.

First-year coach, freshman awards announced

BEAMER, HEUPEL SHARE 2021 STEVE SPURRIER AWARD
DALLAS – South Carolina coach Shane Beamer and Tennessee coach Josh Heupel are the co-winners of the Steve Spurrier First-Year Coach of the Year Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America and Chris Doering Mortgage. It’s the second time the 43-year-old Heupel has won the award, which began in 2001 but is in its first year being sponsored by Doering and named after Spurrier. Heupel, like Spurrier a former All-America quarterback in his day, was the FWAA First-year Coach of the Year at UCF in 2018. Beamer, son of celebrated Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, is the second South Carolina coach to win the award. Spurrier actually won the award in 2005 in his first season leading the Gamecocks.

GEORGIA’S BOWERS IS 2021 FRESHMAN PLAYER OF THE YEAR
DALLAS (FWAA) – Record-breaking Georgia All-America tight end Brock Bowers has been named the recipient of the fourth annual FWAA Freshman of the Year presented by Chris Doering Mortgage. The unquestioned most valuable player on the Georgia offense, Bowers led the Bulldogs with 56 catches for 882 yards and a program-record 13 receiving touchdowns. Bowers, who scored touchdowns in each of the last five games of the season, is the first player from Georgia and first tight end to win the award.

OHIO STATE’S STROUD CAPTURES FRESHMAN BREAKOUT PERFORMANCE AWARD
DALLAS (FWAA) – Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud was named the fourth annual recipient of the FWAA Freshman Breakout Performance Award presented by Chris Doering Mortgage for his performances against Michigan State and Utah. The FWAA Freshman Breakout Performance Award is awarded annually to the college football freshman with the best single-game performance of the season. Stroud, a Heisman Trophy and Davey O’Brien Award finalist and the Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Year, was a unanimous selection with two performances worthy of the breakout award.

OKLAHOMA STATE’S OLIVER IS MOST INSPIRATIONAL FRESHMAN
DALLAS (FWAA) – Oklahoma State defensive end Collin Oliver was named the third annual Most Inspirational Freshman for 2021 by the Football Writers Association of America and Chris Doering Mortgage on Monday night. Oliver, a 6-foot-2, 225-pounder from Oklahoma City, played considerably bigger than his frame and made giant contributions for a defense that led the nation with 4.0 sacks per game. Oliver’s 11.5 sacks led FBS Power 5 conference freshmen, and only Coastal Carolina freshman Josaiah Stewart (12.5) had more. The unanimous Big 12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year was somewhat under the radar when he signed with the Cowboys in 2020, rated a three-star linebacker by the 247 Composite. Oliver quickly changed the narrative upon his arrival in Stillwater.

Chris Doering Mortgage, based in Gainesville, Fla., was established in April 2007 as a residential lending company providing mortgage products including conventional, FHA, USDA and VA loans. The branch is a division of MortgageAdvisors.com – 3940 NW 16th Blvd., Suite A, Gainesville, FL 32605 – NMLS 70168/1937321. FHA Lender ID 2631500094. Chris Doering Mortgage is committed to skillfully and ethically delivering the highest quality customer service throughout the mortgage process, with a team of professionals that strive to exceed the expectations of clients and business partners while continually educating and adapting to the changing needs of the industry. For more information, visit ChrisDoeringMortgage.com.

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

Related link:
Download Steve Spurrier Award logo

2021 FWAA Freshman All-America Team unveiled

DALLAS – The 2021 Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-America Team features one of the dynamic playmakers from national champion Georgia, a key linebacker from national runner-up Alabama, the country’s third-leading passer and a combined 13 players from the Big Ten and Southeastern Conferences.

This is the 21st season the FWAA has honored freshman All-Americans.

The recipients of the fifth annual FWAA Freshman of the Year, the 2021 Steve Spurrier First-Year Coach of the Year Award, the Most Inspirational Freshman Player and the Top Freshman Performance awards, all presented by Chris Doering Mortgage, will be announced tonight at 7:45 p.m. ET on a virtual press conference that will also be streamed on SEC Country.

Three schools had teammates on the Freshman All-America team, led by Ohio State with three, followed by Iowa and Texas A&M with two each. The list includes players who were either redshirt freshmen, true freshmen, or freshmen playing in their second season via the NCAA’s updated COVID eligibility rules as designated by their respective schools.

Paced by a combined five selections from Iowa and Ohio State, the Big Ten led all conferences with eight members followed by the SEC’s seven and the Big 12 and Pac-12 had three each. The American Athletic, Atlantic Coast, Conference USA and Independents had two apiece with the Mid-American, Mountain West and Sun Belt placing one as all 10 conferences were represented. Of the 32 honored players, 24 are true freshmen.

“This was among the most competitive FWAA Freshman All-America Team selections to date, on account of COVID-19 eligibility allowances adding to the pool of players eligible to make the team,” said Mike Griffith of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s DawgNation and the chair of the 2021 Freshman All-America Committee. “The talented group of young men who made this team are also to be applauded for their perseverance, as well as their performances, amid the unprecedented circumstances of these times in collegiate athletics.”

Following is the complete, 32-man 2021 FWAA Freshman All-America Team:

OFFENSE

QB• Seth Henigan, Memphis6-3200Denton, Texas
QBCJ Stroud, Ohio State6-3218Inland Empire, Calif.
RB• Braelon Allen, Wisconsin6-2238Fond du Lac, Wis.
RB• TreVeyon Henderson, Ohio State5-10215Hopewell, Va.
WRCorey Rucker, Arkansas State6-0203Bentonia, Miss.
WR• Xavier Worthy, Texas6-1160Fresno, Calif.
TE• Brock Bowers, Georgia6-4230Napa, Calif.
OL• Joe Alt, Notre Dame6-7305North Oaks, Minn.
OL• Campbell Barrington, BYU6-6285Spokane, Wash.
OL• Connor Colby, Iowa6-6298Cedar Rapids, Iowa
OL• Reuben Fatheree II, Texas A&M6-8320Richmond, Texas
OL• Bryce Foster, Texas A&M6-5325Katy, Texas
OL• Wyatt Milum, West Virginia6-6291Kenova, W. Va.

DEFENSE

DL• Collin Oliver, Oklahoma State6-2225Oklahoma City, Okla.
DL• Maason Smith, LSU6-6292Houma, La.
DL• Josaiah Stewart, Coastal Carolina6-2245Everett, Mass.
DLLukas Van Ness, Iowa6-5264Barrington, Ill.
LB• Junior Colson, Michigan6-2225Brentwood, Tenn.
LB• Eric Gentry, Arizona State6-6200Philadelphia, Pa.
LBCal Haladay, Michigan State6-1235Elysburg, Pa.
LB• Dallas Turner, Alabama6-4245Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
DB• Calen Bullock, USC6-3180Pasadena, Calif.
DB• Denzel Burke, Ohio State6-1192Scottsdale, Ariz.
DB• Duce Chestnut, Syracuse6-0195Camden, N.J.
DB• Jack Howell, Colorado State5-11195Chandler, Ariz.
DBDonte Kent, Central Michigan5-11185Harrisburg, Pa.
DB• Andrew Mukuba, Clemson6-0185Austin, Texas

SPECIALISTS

K• Cam Little, Arkansas6-2185Moore, Okla.
P• Nick Haberer, Washington State6-5224Queensland, Australia
KRBrian Battie, USF5-8165Sarasota, Fla.
PRJaylin Lane, Middle Tennessee5-8174Clover, S.C.
APRasheen Ali, Marshall6-0201Cleveland, Ohio

* Denotes true freshman

Brock Bowers, the true freshman tight end at Georgia who burst upon the national scene quickly with a highlight 89-yard catch-and-score against UAB on Sept. 11, stands out on the team as one of two selections to also earn FWAA All-America status as its second-team tight end. Bowers’ 56 receptions for 882 yards and 13 touchdowns led all Bulldogs receivers and the SEC Newcomer of the Year also broke school records for receptions and touchdown receptions by a tight end in a single season. Bowers is Georgia’s 10th FWAA Freshman All-America selection of the past six seasons and its 12th of the past 10 seasons.

Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud powers the team as one of two quarterbacks, along with Memphis’ Seth Henigan. Stroud, a true freshman, was a Heisman Trophy and Davey O’Brien Award finalist and had four games of 400-or-more passing yards. He swept the Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year and Quarterback of the Year awards, the first time for one player to win all three in the same season. He led the nation’s top offense (561.4 ypg) and a scoring offense (45.7 ppg) that was fifth in passing yards (380.9 ypg).

Bowers and Stroud, along with Oklahoma State defensive end Collin Oliver, are the finalists for the 2021 FWAA Freshman of the Year.

Also selected from Ohio State was Denzel Burke at defensive back and running back TreVeyon Henderson. Burke started all 13 games at cornerback – a first for a freshman at Ohio State – and led the team with 12 pass break-ups to go with one interception. Henderson, the top-ranked running back in the 2021 recruiting class, didn’t disappoint as the Buckeyes’ rushing leader with 1,272 yards and 15 touchdowns, setting multiple OSU records along the way. Along with Stroud, the trio are Ohio State’s first Freshman All-America players in five seasons.

Henigan’s deep balls were one of Memphis’ top weapons this season and his 3,322 yards passing were the most among FBS true freshmen. Henigan earns the school a third consecutive season with a member of the team, joining all-purpose player Kenneth Gainwell (2019) and receiver Tahj Washington (2020), and is one of two players from the American Athletic Conference to make the team. Kick returner Brian Battie of USF, a first-team FWAA All-American, had three kick return touchdowns as a constant special teams threat to earn his spot on the team.

Joining Henderson in the backfield was Big Ten mate Braelon Allen, who averaged 6.8 yards per rush as Wisconsin’s top rusher with 1,268 yards and 12 touchdowns. Allen is the first Wisconsin player selected to the team since center Tyler Biadasz and running back Jonathan Taylor, both now in the NFL, in 2017.

Xavier Worthy led Texas in receptions (62), receiving yards (981) and touchdowns (12, most among all FBS freshmen). He is Texas’ first Freshman All-American in three seasons and its first at a skill position since Colt McCoy in 2006. The other receiver spot went to Arkansas State’s Corey Rucker, who led Sun Belt Conference wide receivers with nine touchdown catches. Rucker is A-State’s first Freshman All-American since 2014 and its first on offense in nine seasons.

The committee awarded six offensive line spots, buoyed by the Texas A&M pair of Reuben Fatheree II and Bryce Foster. They are the Aggies’ first Freshman All-Americans since 2015 and A&M’s first on the offensive front since Luke Joeckel in 2010. Foster started every game. Iowa, always a staple for offensive linemen, has Connor Colby on the team along with teammate Lukas Van Ness at linebacker. Colby is just the sixth true freshman to start on the offensive line under Kirk Ferentz. He gave up one sack all season to become the Hawkeyes’ first Freshman All-American on the offensive line since Alaric Jackson in 2017. With Van Ness, it’s the first time for Iowa to have two players on the team.

Joining them on the line are the Notre Dame’s Joe Alt and BYU’s Campbell Barrington, who make up the representation from the FBS Independents. Alt helped reform the Irish up front, moving into the starting left tackle spot after six games. The Irish line surged in the second half of the season and helped Kyren Williams, a member of last year’s Freshman All-America team, to become just the fifth Notre Dame running back to have back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. The Irish have had a Freshman All-American in three consecutive seasons. Barrington is BYU’s first player on the team in three seasons. West Virginia’s Wyatt Milum, who rounds out the offensive line, made seven starts at right tackle to earn the school’s fifth Freshman All-America honor and first since 2019.

A standout season by two linemen put them at the head of the defense. Oklahoma State’s Oliver took full advantage of his first start, posting five solo tackles, two sacks and three hurries in an Oct. 2 win over Baylor. He tied for 15th in the FBS with 11.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss. Oliver, who had the game-sealing sack against Oklahoma that sent the Cowboys to the Big 12 Championship Game, is the fourth Freshman All-American in school history and the first on defense in 11 seasons. Josaiah Stewart, a true freshman at Coastal Carolina, was one of the country’s top pass rushers, tallying 12.5 sacks to lead all FBS freshmen and tied for fifth in the nation. He had four sacks and forced two fumbles against Georgia Southern. Stewart is Coastal Carolina’s third all-time Freshman All-American, each of them from the past two seasons.

Maason Smith of LSU was the nation’s top prep defensive lineman in the fall of 2020 and became a coaches’ pick as an All-SEC Freshman in 2021. He earned three starts toward the end of the season and was third on the team with four sacks. Smith gives LSU a defensive member of the team in five of the last six seasons. Iowa’s Van Ness tied for the team lead with 7.0 sacks and was second with 8.5 tackles for loss among his 33 total tackles. Van Ness, along with Colby, are the fifth- and sixth all-time Freshman All-America selections from Iowa and Van Ness is the first on defense since 2010.

Depth in the secondary led the committee to expand to six selections. Joining Ohio State’s Burke, Syracuse’s Duce Chestnut became one of the top cover cornerbacks in the country. He tallied three interceptions and had eight passes defended to anchor an Orange secondary that allowed just 202 yards passing per game. He is Syracuse’s third defensive Freshman All-America nod in the past four seasons. Chestnut and Clemson’s Andrew Mukuba are the ACC’s two selections on the team. Mukuba was the Tigers’ first freshman to start at safety since 1973 and had eight tackles and a pass breakup in the opener against Georgia. He had 54 tackles and a sack this season as Clemson’s seventh All-Freshman pick of the past eight seasons.

Calen Bullock, USC’s first true freshman to start an opener at safety since 2013, had two interceptions on the season, three PBU’s and 40 tackles. He is USC’s first All-Freshman player on defense since 2014. Jack Howell of Colorado State made six starts at safety for the Rams and finished fifth on the team with 64 tackles, including 3.5 TFL’s. He is CSU’s third all-time Freshman All-American and the second in three seasons, and is the lone choice from the Mountain West. Central Michigan cornerback Donte Kent started all 13 games and led the MAC with 14 PBU’s. He was third on the team with 55 total tackles and second with 45 solo stops. Kent is CMU’s second Freshman All-American, joining Antonio Brown from 2007.

Two true freshmen started for two of the College Football Playoff teams, both of them linebackers. Michigan won the Big Ten title with its defense and true freshman Junior Colson was fourth on the team in tackles with 61 to go with two PBU’s and three quarterback hurries. Colson is Michigan’s first Freshman All-American since 2017 and its first on defense since 2015. Dallas Turner of Alabama is the Crimson Tide’s seventh Freshman All-American of the past four seasons and the fifth on defense during that span. He earned a starting role in mid-season and finished third on the team with 8.5 sacks for the national runner-up.

Linebacker Cal Haladay of Michigan State started 12 of 13 games for the Spartans and was third on the team with 96 tackles to go with two interceptions and two forced fumbles. An honorable mention All-Big Ten selection, he is Michigan State’s first Freshman All-American since 2016 and its first on defense since 2014. Arizona State linebacker Eric Gentry had 45 tackles as ASU’s first Freshman All-American since 2018.

Rasheen Ali, selected as the all-purpose player, made an immediate impact with four touchdowns in Marshall’s opener against Navy. He carried on more than half of the Herd’s rushing plays (250 of 449) and his 23 rushing touchdowns tied for the most in the FBS. He is only the second player from Marshall to earn FWAA Freshman All-America honors and its first since 2012. Ali, who also returned a kickoff for a score, is one of two players from Conference USA on the team, along with punt returner Jaylin Lane of Middle Tennessee, who was fourth in the nation in punt return average at 14.6. Lane is MTSU’s fourth Freshman All-American.

Punter Nick Haberer from Washington State is the sixth Australian to earn a Freshman All-America honor, all of whom are punters. He finished the season with a 42.8-yard average and is the school’s second Freshman All-American. Arkansas kicker Cam Little led the team in scoring with 106 points and connected on 20 field goals, the third-most in school history.

From the Freshman All-America team, California and Texas took honors as the most common home state with four players each, followed by two each from Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania.

The panel of nationally-prominent college football experts from the FWAA membership represented each of the FBS conferences along with independents in the selecting the team.

Chris Doering Mortgage, based in Gainesville, Fla., was established in April 2007 as a residential lending company providing mortgage products including conventional, FHA, USDA and VA loans. The branch is a division of MortgageAdvisors.com – 3940 NW 16th Blvd., Suite A, Gainesville, FL 32605 – NMLS 70168/1937321. FHA Lender ID 2631500094. Chris Doering Mortgage is committed to skillfully and ethically delivering the highest quality customer service throughout the mortgage process, with a team of professionals that strive to exceed the expectations of clients and business partners while continually educating and adapting to the changing needs of the industry. For more information, visit ChrisDoeringMortgage.com.

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

Related link:
• All-Time FWAA Freshman All-America Teams (.pdf)

Dennis Dodd named recipient of 2022 Bert McGrane Award

INDIANAPOLIS — Veteran sportswriter Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports has been named the recipient of the FWAA’s Bert McGrane Award for 2022, symbolic of the association’s Hall of Fame.  He will be honored during the Past Presidents Dinner here tonight.  

“To paraphrase the great Bobby Bowden upon his retirement,” said Dodd, who was previously a co-FWAA Beat Writer of the Year recipient, “there is only one more big event in your life after you win the Bert McGrane.

Dennis Dodd

“Seriously, I am humbled to join such an accomplished and legendary group. I truly don’t consider myself worthy. The FWAA has been at the core of my professional life. The FWAA’s values and principles have formed the foundation of college sports writing. Its members consider journalism a vocation, not just a job.”

The Bert McGrane Award, since 1974, has been bestowed on a FWAA member in recognition of contributions to the association and to college football and recognized in the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. Dodd was named the Steve Ellis co- FWAA Beat Writer of the Year in 2018 and was also FWAA President in 2006.

“These last 18 months or so have been an inspiration,” Dodd continued. “Some of the best writing in any discipline has come from FWAA members during the pandemic. The virus presented a lot of us with unique challenges. We, as a group, rose to the occasion to frame COVID and its impact on the sport. To be part of this great fraternity remains an honor of a lifetime.”

A rundown of Dodd’s career …

PERSONAL: Married. Wife Janet. Two children — Haley, 29, and Jack 25. Haley is a graduate of Missouri, former Volney Meece scholarship recipient in 2009 and is working in Los Angeles in digital media. Jack is in business development in Kansas City. Dennis has won three first-place FWAA Best Writing Contest Awards. He is one of seven media members to cover all 16 BCS title games. Counting this year’ CFP championship game, that’s 22 of 24 championship games overall in the BCS era (since 1998). He has written two books, one on the history of Missouri basketball and the other on the formation of the Big 12. He calls his wife, Janet, “the absolute light of my life, guidance counselor, travel companion, life coach, cancer survivor and best friend.” One of his hobbies, NCAA Football on the PlayStation, was taken away from him by litigation. That and Jack took the Xbox to college. His passions are Happy Hour, hockey and Friday nights before Saturday games in college towns dining with media friends. “There’s no better fellowship,” he says.

MENTORS:  Kansas City Star co-workers Tom Shatel and Steve Richardson, early on. Richardson, Dodd says, “mentored him when he came to Kanas City in 1981.” Shatel: “I wish I could be him as a writer and a father.” They can all still be seen in San Diego in somebody’s picture of that little joint by the sea. Dodd started going to America’s Finest City 38 years ago to watch the 1983 Holiday Bowl. In his last college game, Steve Young caught the game-winning touchdown. Shatel was along for the ride. Ivan Maisel, a “literary and personal hero.” I also want to thank Vahe Gregorian, Andy BagnatoChuck Culpepper, David Jones, Todd Jones, Dick Weiss, Mark Blaudschun, Tony Barnhart, Chris Dufresne, Pat Forde and everyone who has pounded the keyboards at midnight with me.”

BEST STORIES:  He is most proud of two — one was on Dave Redding. “I drove up to central Nebraska to see legendary strength coach Dave Redding,” Dodd said. “In a profession full of characters, rogues and heroes, he was all three. Red Man had been stricken with Parkinson’s. He lived in a house built on the banks of the Platte River by himself and his dad. His only companions were a couple of dogs and a houseful of memories. He showed me his Super Bowl ring he earned with the Packers.He went in depth on two brothers who made it big in Hollywood before both dying of HIV. He kept asking me if I wanted a drink. It was 2 p.m. It was clear he was lonely. I had to decline because I had to drive back to Lincoln. I’m really proud of honoring him by writing that story.”

“In 2001, I had the idea to drive out to Cottonwood Falls, Kansas, to find the Knute Rockne Memorial where the great coach’s plane had crashed in 1931,” Dodd said. “It was the 70th anniversary of the crash that killed Notre Dame’s legendary coach. Before the days of GPS or Siri, I drove 90 minutes to Emporia, got directions to Cottonwood Falls, and then got directions again to Bazaar, Kansas. That’s the closest spot on a map to the memorial which stands alone on a 1,500-acre plot of land in the Flint Hills.

“I met a gentle soul named Easter Heathman.” Dodd said. “As a 13-year old in 1931, he had seen the plane come out of the clouds and crash. He was one of the first upon the scene. He remembered seeing a body with the legs wrapped with bandages. Years later, Heathman figured that must have been Rockne because the coach had phlebitis. Over the years Easter became a caretaker for the memorial, taking anyone who wanted to see it, up to the site. The landowner had given him a combination to unlock the gate. I revisited the story on the 90th anniversary of the crash this past March. But I had to sneak onto the land which has new owners who prohibit trespassers, including reporters like me. The five-mile hike across the Kansas prairie was worth it to geta cell phone picture of the memorial for the story.”

BEST ADVICE: Came from Janet, of course: “Listen … listen to her, listen to your children, listen to your heart,” Dodd says. “Professionally, listen to your interview subjects. They are doing you a favor by talking to you. They have a story to tell. It’s up to you to communicate it clearly.” Also, “Read (your story) one more time before sending it.”— Several editors.

THE BIGGEST CHANGE IN THE PROFESSION:  Dodd says: “The lack of intimacy. I don’t have to tell anyone in the FWAA how hard it is now to connect with subjects. Open locker rooms are few and far between. Interviews are now ‘media availability.’ A chat must fit into an available ‘window.’ I believe schools sometimes are doing a disservice to these kids. They come to college to grow as people and, sure, as athletes. For a lot of them this is going to be the time of their lives. I’ve said it many times, on the college beat we’re there to write something positive 80 to 90 percent of the time. Don’t make it so hard. I mourn the loss of access. Often the story that gets told is not THE story. COVID has obviously had an impact, but let’s hope we can get back to what we had. 

“On the positive side, the best biggest change is the influx of women into our profession. There still aren’t enough, but they keep coming. That’s a good thing. Thank you, Stef Loh for being our 2018 FWAA President and Heather Dinich this year. I know there are moretalented leaders inthe pipeline. Kelly Whiteside was our first female FWAA President in 2002”.

BEST INTERVIEW:  Jeff Sims.  “He wasthe coach at Garden City Community College,” Dodd says. “When I visited a few years ago, this was before Last Chance U. Sims grew up in St. Louis and had a dad — a cop—  who smoked marijuana in front of him. Sims once waited outside a prison to get a commitment from a player who was completing 3 1/2 years for armed robbery. There’s a book here somewhere about the desperation at the junior college level — for the players to get there, get good and get out. During my visit there, I sat across from a linebacker, Alex Figueroa, who’d been kicked out of a previous school for a violation of school policy. His teammate had body-slammed a high school security guard on camera. These are some of the kids Sims pursued to be on his team. It remains a fascinating interview. Coach and players made no excuses about why they were there in the southwest corner of Kansas — to get out as soon as possible.