OMAHA (FWAA) – A center on the nation’s fifth-best rushing offense and national title contender, the highest-graded offensive tackle throughout the season and one of the nation’s top pass-rushing threats are the three finalists for the 2022 Outland Trophy as selected by the Football Writers Association of America.
Calijah Kancey of Pitt, a defensive tackle with 14.0 tackles for loss and 7.0 sacks; Olusegun Oluwatimi, a center who has helped guide Michigan to consecutive Big Ten East division titles, and Northwestern offensive tackle Peter Skoronski, a perennial Big Ten stalwart and pro scout favorite, are this season’s superior linemen.
The Outland Trophy is awarded annually to the nation's best college interior lineman on offense or defense. The All-America Committee of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) selected the finalists.
The recipient of the 77th Outland Trophy will be announced on The Home Depot College Football Awards, live in a virtual presentation on ESPN on Dec. 8. The official presentation to the winner will be made at the Outland Trophy Awards Dinner sponsored by Werner Enterprises and produced by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee in Omaha, Neb., on Jan. 11, 2023.
Pitt has had two former Outland winners in defensive lineman Aaron Donald in 2013 and offensive tackle Mark May in 1980. Oluwatimi would be Michigan’s first Outland winner among several previous finalists. Skoronski would be Northwestern’s first Outland winner.
Here is a glance at the three finalists:
Calijah Kancey, DT, Pitt (#8, 6-0, 280, Jr., Miami, Fla.): Kancey is the among the national leaders with 14.5 tackles for loss (t-21st in FBS) and 7.5 sacks (t-45th). The pass-rush specialist is also a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the FWAA’s award honoring the nation’s most outstanding defensive player. Kancey is eighth on the Panthers’ defense with 31 total tackles with 17 solos. Bolstered by his efforts on the inside, Pitt leads the nation in sacks with 3.75 per game and is seventh nationally against the run (95.5).
Pitt has a rich Outland Trophy tradition. Beyond previous winners Donald and May, Mark Stepnoski, a guard, was a finalist in 1988.
Olusegun Oluwatimi, C, Michigan (#55, 6-3, 307, Gr., Upper Marlboro, Md.): Michigan is one step from earning its 44th Big Ten championship and a return to the College Football Playoff in large part due to its offensive line success ahead of its run game. Oluwatimi was a second-team FWAA All-American at Virginia in 2021 before becoming a graduate transfer to Michigan last spring. He has 43 career starts at center between the two schools. Michigan is fifth nationally in rushing at 244.5 yards per game. The offensive line was never better than last week at Ohio State, when the Wolverines out-rushed the Buckeyes 242-19 in the second half and prompted reserve running back Donovan Edwards’ 216 yards and two touchdowns in the decisive win. In the passing game, Michigan has yielded only 13.0 sacks (16th in FBS) and 55.0 total TFL’s (31st) this season.
Michigan’s last Outland finalist was offensive tackle Jake Long in 2007, ahead of center David Baas (2004) and offensive tackle Greg Skrepenak (1991).
Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern (#77, 6-4, 315, Jr., Park Ridge, Ill.): Skoronski has been among the top-graded offensive linemen all season and finishes the season atop all FBS tackles with a 93.7 pass blocking grade according to Pro Football Focus. One of the Wildcats’ captains with 31 career starts, Skoronski has allowed only six pressures on 480 pass-blocking snaps this season. A two-time All-Big Ten player – second team in 2020 and first team in 2021 and now likely 2022 – his run-blocking grade is also in the top-15 per PFF.
Skoronski is Northwestern’s first Outland finalist.
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 college football’s most prestigious awards. The NCFAA’s 25 awards have honored more than 800 recipients since 1935. Visit NCFAA.org for more information.
Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of journalists, broadcasters, publicists, photographers and key executives in all areas of college football. The FWAA works to govern media access and gameday operations while presenting awards and honors, including an annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its programs and initiatives, contact Executive Director Steve Richardson at 214-870-6516 or firstname.lastname@example.org.