Washington State left guard Cody O’Connell has been named one of five semifinalists for the Outland Trophy, the Football Writers Association of America announced Wednesday. The Outland Trophy is presented to the best interior lineman in college football on offense or defense since 1946.
O’Connell, a redshirt-junior from Wenatchee, Wash. is the first Cougar Outland Trophy semifinalist since defensive lineman Rien Long won the award in 2002. O’Connell has started nine games at left guard for the No. 20 Cougars who are 8-2 and 7-0 in Pac-12 Conference play for the first time since 1930. O’Connell has helped protect for the nation’s second-rated passing offense (385.5) and blocked for a rushing attack that owns six 100-yard efforts including three 200-yard performances. WSU’s rushing offense has improved greatly this season, going from 80.1 ypg in 2015 to 132.0 ypg in 2016.
O’Connell, nicknamed “The Continent” by coach Mike Leach, was named to the Midseason All-American First Team by FOX Sports and CBSSports.com and to the Midseason All-America Second Team by SportsIllustrated. Most recently, he was ranked second nationally among guards and best in the country as a pass-blocker by Pro Football Focus.
The five semifinalists – all offensive linemen – in alphabetical order, are: Pat Elflein, Ohio State; Cody O’Connell, Washington State; Ethan Pocic, LSU; Cam Robinson, Alabama; and Connor Williams, Texas.
The five semifinalists will be whittled down to three finalists and announced on Tues., Nov. 22, during The Home Depot College Football Awards Nomination Special, starting at 3 p.m. ET on ESPNU. The winner of the 2016 Outland Trophy will be announced Thurs., Dec. 8 on The Home Depot College Football Awards on ESPN, the main show beginning at 7 p.m. ET, live from the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.
The Outland Trophy is named after the late John Outland, an All-America lineman at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1800s, is the third-oldest player award in major college football behind the Heisman Trophy and Maxwell Award. It has been awarded to the best interior lineman in college football on offense or defense since 1946 when Notre Dame’s George Connor was named the recipient.
For the 20th consecutive year, the presentation of the Outland Trophy will occur in Omaha, on Jan. 11, 2017, at a banquet sponsored by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee.