The preseason hype wagon for the Toledo Rockets shows no signs of slowing down. Especially as another Rocket gets added to a national award’s watch list. This most recent addition is senior offensive lineman Elijah Nkansah.
Nkansah, a 6-6, 315-pound left tackle, is the leader of an offensive line that that allowed just 14 sacks in 2016, which ranked 11th in the country and third in the MAC. Toledo's offense led the MAC in total offense (517.8) and passing offense (322.8) last season, and ranked seventh in nation in total offense and 10th in passing offense.
The Outland Trophy is awarded to the best college football interior lineman in the United States as adjudged by the Football Writers Association of America. It is named after John H. Outland. One of only a few players ever to be named an All-American at two positions, Outland garnered consensus All-America honors in 1898 as a tackle and consensus honors as a halfback in 1899.
Outland had always contended that football tackles and guards deserved greater recognition and conceived the Outland Trophy as a means of providing this recognition. A member of the National College Football Awards Association, the award has become one of college football's most prestigious. Former winners of the Outland Trophy include the likes of Jonathan Ogden, Orlando Pace, and Ndamukong Suh who went on to impressive NFL careers.
The ACC (17) led all conferences with members on the Watch List, followed by the Big Ten and SEC (11 each), Pac-12 (10), American Athletic (9), Big 12 and Mid-American (6 each), Independents and Mountain West (4 each), Conference USA (2) and Sun Belt (1).
The list includes 24 offensive tackles, 21 defensive tackles, 20 centers and 16 offensive guards.
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 list will be trimmed to six or seven semifinalists on Wed., Nov. 15. Six days later, three Outland Trophy finalists will be named by the FWAA. The winner of the 72nd Outland Trophy – named after the late John Outland, an All-America lineman at Penn at the turn of the 20th century – will be announced live on ESPN at The Home Depot College Football Awards on Thurs., Dec. 7. For the third straight year, the show will air from the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.
The Outland Trophy presentation banquet, sponsored by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee, will be held on Jan. 10, 2018 in Omaha, Neb. Former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden will receive the Tom Osborne Legacy Award at the same banquet.