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

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

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

By Gene Duffey, Author

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More…

Deadline for entries to the FWAA Best Writing Contest extended to July 15

FWAA members can submit entries in the 2020 Best Writing Contest until July 15.

CATEGORIES

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

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 15, 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 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:

Mark Blaudschun
TMG Sports
497 Country Way
Scituate. MA 02066
blauds@aol.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.

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

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

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

By Gene Duffey, Author

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More…

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

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

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

By Gene Duffey, Author

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

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

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

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

Back to the line.

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

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

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

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

Huffman Coach Curtis Coleman soon began hearing from the recruiters.

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

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

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

More…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,300 men and women across North America who cover college football for a living. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game-day operations, major awards, a national poll and its annual All-America teams. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Executive Director Steve Richardson at tiger@fwaa.com or 214-870-6516.

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

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

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

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

By Gene Duffey, Author

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More…

Submit your entries to the FWAA Best Writing Contest; less than a month remains until deadline

FWAA members can submit entries in the 2020 Best Writing Contest until July 1.

CATEGORIES

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

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 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:

Mark Blaudschun
TMG Sports
497 Country Way
Scituate. MA 02066
blauds@aol.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.

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

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

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

By Gene Duffey, Author

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2020 FWAA Freshman All-America Team unveiled

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

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

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

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

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

2020 FWAA FRESHMAN ALL-AMERICA TEAM

OFFENSE (13)

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

DEFENSE (14)

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

SPECIALISTS (5)

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

HEAD COACH

Karl Dorrell, Colorado

• Denotes true treshman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Shaun Alexander

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

About the Football Writers Association of America

The FWAA consists of 1,300 men and women who cover college football. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game-day operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at tiger@fwaa.com.

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