Two offensive linemen – center Tyler Biadasz of Wisconsin and tackle Penei Sewell of Oregon – and defensive tackle Derrick Brown of Auburn were named as the three finalists for the 2019 Outland Trophy by the Football Writers Association of America.
The Outland Trophy, presented by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), is awarded annually to the nation's best college interior lineman on offense or defense.
NFID is presenting the trophy to help increase awareness about the importance of influenza (flu) prevention. Getting vaccinated each year is your best line of defense
against the flu.
The All-America Committee of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) selected the three finalists from among the six semifinalists announced last week.
Biadasz is Wisconsin's fifth finalist – all of them on the offensive line – and its first since offensive tackle Gabe Carimi won the Outland Trophy in 2010. Wisconsin can also boast the 2006 winner in future Pro Football Hall of Famer Joe Thomas, and Wisconsin had Biadasz's former teammate, guard Michael Deiter, among the semifinalists last year. Sewell is Oregon's second all-time finalist, joining defensive tackle Haloti Ngata in 2005, as the Ducks have yet to claim an Outland winner. Brown is Auburn's first finalist since center Reese Dismukes in 2014 and its sixth all-time. He is the Tigers' third defensive tackle to be a finalist, joining 1988 Outland winner Tracy Rocker and Zeke Smith, who won the Outland in 1958.
Former University of Pittsburgh tackle Mark May, the 1980 Outland Trophy winner, is serving as the Outland Trophy #FightFlu ambassador on behalf of NFID. May is making media appearances on behalf of the NFID #FightFlu public awareness campaign to remind everyone age six months and older to get vaccinated annually against flu.
The recipient of the 74th Outland Trophy will be announced during ESPN's The Home Depot College Football Awards on Dec. 12, live from the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. The official presentation to the winner will be made at the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases Outland Trophy Award Dinner sponsored by Werner Enterprises on Jan. 15, 2020 in Omaha, Neb.
A closer look at each of the finalists:
Tyler Biadasz, C, Wisconsin (6-3, 321, Jr., Amherst, Wis.): Biadasz is the latest of outstanding Wisconsin linemen paving the way for record-setting running backs. This season Biadasz has been up front as Johnathan Taylor has become the nation's leading scorer (22 TD's) and following a 222-yard effort last week against Purdue, is now the Big Ten's second all-time leading rusher. Taylor now owns the FBS record for most rushing yards in a three-year span (5,856), which also marks Biadasz's starting tenure of 38 consecutive starts. The Badgers rushed for a season-high 403 yards against Purdue and finished with a season-high 606 total yards, its highest output since 2014. Biadasz is also strong in pass protection where the line he commands has the Badgers completing 73.5 percent of their passes, third nationally.
Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn (6-5, 318, Sr., Sugar Hill, Ga.): Brown is the rare playmaker tucked in the middle of Auburn's line. Consistently double-teamed, Brown has still produced 43 tackles that are tied for fourth on the Tigers' defense along with 9.0 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks, both second on the team. The team captain's best games have come in November, with seven tackles each against second-ranked LSU and Ole Miss and most recently six against fifth-ranked Georgia. The Ole Miss game was one of three times he earned the SEC Defensive Player of the Week award. He was also the Trophy's Defensive Player of the Month for October. Brown has 157 career tackles, 30.0 TFL's and 13.0 sacks.
Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon (6-6, 325, So., Malaeimi, American Samoa/St. George, Utah): Sewell is regarded as the top offensive lineman in the Pac-12 and one of the two best offensive tackles in the country. In short, he's the best lineman on the nation's best offensive line – an Oregon lineman has taken seven of the Pac-12's 11 Offensive Lineman of the Week awards, and Sewell has three of those seven. Head coach Mario Christobal says he's the best lineman he's ever coached. Sewell was the Outland Trophy Offensive Player of the Month for September and leads Oregon with 45 knockdowns blocking for an Oregon offense that is 21st nationally at 460.2 yards per game. He has five or more knockdowns in five of 11 games. Run-blocking is his specialty but he has yielded only six QB pressures this season and one sack.
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 the most prestigious awards in college football. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 25 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935.