Football Writers Association of America Dec. 8, 2005
For Immediate Release
Contact: Steve Richardson
972-713-6198
Award goes to a center for the first time since 1997
MINNESOTA'S ESLINGER
WINS 2005 OUTLAND TROPHY

ORLANDO, FLA. (FWAA) Minnesota center Greg Eslinger became the third Golden Gopher to be named the winner of the Outland Trophy on Thursday night during the ESPN College Football Awards show from Disney World.

Eslinger, a 6-3, 285-pound senior for Bismarck, N.D., joins Bobby Bell (1962) and Tom Brown (1960) as former Minnesota winners of the Outland Trophy, which goes to the top interior lineman in college football. The Outland has been presented by the FWAA since 1946.

In an ironic twist, Eslinger was announced as the winner over other finalists Auburn offensive tackle Marcus McNeill and Oregon defensive tackle Haloti Ngata by USC's Ron Yary, a former No. 1 draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings. Yary won the Outland in 1967.

"I am extremely surprised. I am extremely humbled and honored to be mentioned with the other two gentlemen," Eslinger said aftrer receiving the award.

"The true story about Greg is he was a tone-setter, on the field, in the weight room, in the classroom and with community service," said Minnesota head coach Glen Mason. "You very seldom get one of those guys.

"He was a perfect for our offense. He pulls so well. We run the ball awfully well, and we do a lot of complicated things and it's because of him. He can figure it out on the run. He's really a fullback playing center."

Eslinger became the first player who has played center to win the award since Nebraska's Aaron Taylor, who started as a guard, switched to center as a junior, and then moved back to guard as a senior in 1997, when he took the Outland Trophy. The last true center to win the Outland Trophy was Dave Rimington of Nebraska in 1981 and '82.

A former high school hockey player and track (discus/shot put) star , Eslinger also was a finalist for the National Football Foundation's Draddy Award. Eslinger has started a remarkable 49 straight games his entire career at Minnesota. A repeat FWAA All-America in 2005, Eslinger was named the Detroit Free Press Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. He helped lead Minnesota to 497.8 yards of offense per game this past season, which ranked fifth nationally and third best in Big 10 history.

The Golden Gophers' rushing game generated 279.9 yards a game in 2005, seventh best in Big Ten history. Minnesota, with Eslinger anchoring the line, allowed only three sacks during the entire 2005 season.

The Outland is the third oldest award in major college football behind the Heisman Trophy and Maxwell Award. It is named after the late John Outland who created the award a year before his death. An All-American lineman at Pennsylvania at the turn of the century, Dr. Outland created the award to recognize linemen. He believed linemen needed more recognition. The first Outland Award was presented to the late George Connor of Notre Dame in 1946.

The annual presentation banquet, which is sponsored by the Omaha Sports Committee and First Data Corp., will be Jan. 12 in Omaha, Neb., when Yary also will receive his Outland Trophy. Before the late 1980s, the FWAA awarded only a plaque to the winner.

The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 900 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 team.

For more information on the Outland Trophy, contact FWAA executive director Steve Richardson (972-713-6198 or tiger@fwaa.com).

Related links:
All-time Outland Trophy winners
Outland Trophy official website (outlandtrophy.com)