Oklahoma's Rouse is Outland Trophy National Player of the Week

DALLAS (FWAA) Walter Rouse has been an impact transfer player for the Oklahoma Sooners thus far, and last week in what will be his only season in Norman the left tackle left his own imprint in the Sooners’ lore Saturday in their 34-30 win in the Red River Rivalry. For pushing back two edge rushers at the same time and giving quarterback Dillon Gabriel an extra second to throw the game-winning touchdown pass, Rouse has earned the Outland Trophy National Player of the Week honor for games during the weekend of Oct. 7, as selected by the Football Writers Association of America.

For the first time, the FWAA is selecting an Outland Trophy National Player of the Week as part of the NCFAA's weekly national honors from 12 awards. The recipient of the 2023 Outland Trophy will be announced on The Home Depot College Football Awards, live on ESPN on Dec. 7 or 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, 2024.

Players may be added or removed from the watch list during the season. The weekly winners, including Rouse this week, will be part of the Outland Trophy watch list going forward.

Rouse, a 6-6, redshirt senior from Silver Spring, Md., transferred to Oklahoma, enrolling in January after four years at Stanford. He started 39 of his 40 games at Stanford at left tackle and earned honorable mention on the 2020 All-Pac-12 team. Rouse was a 2022 William V. Campbell Trophy finalist and earned two Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll accolades. 

His presence on the left side has been immediate. Rouse has started all six games at left tackle for the Sooners, who are fifth among FBS schools scoring 45.2 points per game scoring 35 touchdowns with eight field goals. Combined with the experience of returning senior starters in guard McKade Mettauer and two-year-starting center Andrew Raym, the line’s protection has keyed seen an offensive resurgence under Gabriel, also a transfer player. Oklahoma is averaging 341.2 passing yards per game, sixth nationally, and are also sixth in total offense (506.0 ypg) and 14th in fewest sacks allowed (0.8 per game). The Sooners’ 23 touchdowns in 33 red-zone trips are third in the nation and they score on 90.91 percent on their red-zone possessions.

On the play referenced above, Oklahoma faced second-and-goal at the Texas 3-yard line with 27 seconds remaining. As Gabriel dropped back, Rouse was firmly in front blocking Texas’ defensive end. But when the Longhorns’ cornerback on that side charged toward the backfield as the play unfolded, Rouse was able to also extend an arm and hold him up just long enough to allow Gabriel to step up and find Anderson in the left corner of the end zone. It was an individual effort not to be lost among a game full of highlights and emotion-swinging plays. Also of note from the Oklahoma offensive line is it paved the way for a season-high 201 rushing yards and limited Texas to only one sack of Gabriel (Texas was allowing 94.6 rushing yards and was averaging 2.8 sacks per game entering the contest).

Including Rouse, the Sooners have rebuilt their roster through the portal in two seasons under head coach Brent Venables. Rouse’s 39 career starts stand out on a team with 21 total transfers into this season’s roster who combined for 214 starts and 447 collective games at their previous schools. Only 26 of 116 players on Oklahoma’s 2021 end-of-year roster are on the 2023 roster.

Rouse has quite an academic profile along with his on-field accolades. Beyond last year’s William V. Campbell Trophy finalist selection, Rouse attended Perelman School of Medicine Medical and Surgical program at University of Pennsylvania, a Physician Scientist Training program in Biomedical Research Training at SMU and is a multidisciplinary studies major. 

Oklahoma’s history with the Outland Trophy is vast with five previous winners, most recently in 2004 with offensive tackle Jammal Brown. Other winners include guard Greg Roberts (1978), defensive tackle Lee Roy Selmon (1975), guard J.D. Roberts (1953) and defensive tackle Jim Weatherall (1951). Offensive tackle Orlando Brown is the most recent finalist from 2017 and guard Duke Robinson was another finalist in 2008. 

No. 5 Oklahoma is idle this week. The Sooners then host UCF on Oct. 21.

The Outland Trophy, celebrating 78 years since its founding, 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. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA includes college football’s most prestigious awards and its 24 awards have honored more than 900 recipients dating back to 1935. This season, 12 NCFAA awards will honor national players of the week each Tuesday. For more information about the NCFAA and its award programs, visit the redesigned NCFAA.org or follow on Twitter at @NCFAA.

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The Greater Omaha Sports Committee, founded in 1977, is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, consisting of more than 1,300 men and women from the City of Omaha, the State of Nebraska, and others. The Committee serves to communicate, develop, initiate and promote sports activities in the Greater Omaha sports area. In addition to the Outland Trophy Award Events and Dinner, the Greater Omaha Sports Committee promotes high school, college, and professional sports in the Greater Omaha area and the Midwest.  For more information contact Bob Mancuso Jr., Chairman at bmancuso@showofficeonline.com or see showofficeonline.com.

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of 1,300 men and women who cover college football. 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 and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at tiger@fwaa.com.