DALLAS (FWAA) - Three finalists for the Outland Trophy, the third-oldest player award in major college football, were announced by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) on Monday.
Awarded since 1946 to the best interior lineman in college football, the Outland Trophy will be given out for the 67th time early next month to either Alabama center Barrett Jones, Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel or North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper.
Jones, the 2011 Outland Trophy winner as an offensive tackle, will be seeking to become only the second player in the award's rich history to win it twice. Nebraska center Dave Rimington claimed back-to-back Outland Trophies in 1981 and '82.
The FWAA selects a 26-man All-America team, which will be announced on Dec. 14. The Outland finalists are interior linemen members of that team as selected by the association's award committee, with input from the membership.
Cooper, a 6-3, 305-pound senior from Wilmington, N.C., has been a standout lineman in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season and has not allowed a sack.
He has been named ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week twice through games of Nov. 10. He has been one of the main reasons that North Carolina tailback Giovani Bernard has been one of the country's top rushers. Cooper is seeking to become North Carolina's inaugural Outland Trophy winner and the first from the ACC since North Carolina State's Jim Ritcher in 1979. He is the first Outland finalist from UNC.
Jones, who followed previous Alabama Outland Trophy winners, offensive tackles Chris Samuels (1999) and Andre Smith (2008), as the 2011 winner, is one of the most versatile and productive linemen in college football. He has played guard, tackle and center on two national championship teams at Alabama. The 6-5, 302-pound senior from Germantown, Tenn., is also a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, the "Academic Heisman" that is presented by the National Football Foundation.
Joeckel, a 6-6, 310-pound junior from Arlington, Texas, is one of the mainstays of the powerful Texas A&M offensive line that has made quite an impact in the school's first season in the Southeastern Conference. He has helped protect freshman quarterback sensation Johnny Manziel during his rookie season. Joeckel had a big game blocking in the Aggies' upset of top-ranked Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Nationally, Texas A&M ranks 14th in rushing, 17th in passing, fifth in total offense and sixth in scoring offense. Texas A&M has never had an Outland Trophy winner or finalist.
The Outland Trophy, named after the late John Outland, an All-America lineman at Penn in the late 1800s, will be officially presented on Jan. 10, 2013, in Omaha, Neb., at a banquet sponsored by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee. At the same banquet, Arkansas defensive tackle Loyd Phillips will receive an Outland Trophy. He was the 1966 winner of the award before trophies were handed out by the FWAA.
The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,200 men and women 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 gameday operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 972-713-6198.
The Outland Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA). The NCFAA was founded in 1997 as a coalition of the major collegiate football awards to protect, preserve and enhance the integrity, influence and prestige of the game's predominant awards. The NCFAA encourages professionalism and the highest standards for the administration of its member awards and the selection of their candidates and recipients. For more information, visit the association's official Web site, ncfaa.org.
UNC Sports Information Dept.