2014 Preseason Award Projections: Outland Trophy

By Charlie Campbell
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Heading into the 2014 college football season, WalterFootball.com will debut our projections for the nation’s leaders during the fall. The All-American teams always have some surprises, and the next fall’s stars could be the headline players next May for the 2015 NFL Draft. We also will project the winners of the postseason awards that are given out to the best of college football.

The Outland Trophy is given to the best interior lineman in college football. Last year’s winner was Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald.

Outland Trophy Winner:

Andrus Peat, Stanford

The Outland Trophy has generally gone to offensive linemen. Donald was the first defensive player to win the award since Ndamukong Suh in 2009. Entering the 2014 season, the defensive tackle position doesn’t look as strong as the offensive line, especially the offensive tackles. Thus, I think the Outland Trophy will revert back to its inclination of going with an offensive lineman. Thus, I think Peat has to be a heavy favorite as he could easily become the most dominant offensive lineman in the nation in 2014.

The Stanford offensive line has been a hard-nosed unit since Jim Harbaugh led the program to relevance. Last year, Stanford moved left tackle David Yankey inside to guard because of the presence of Peat. The Cardinal felt that Peat was a rare talent and a more natural tackle than Yankey. Peat lived up to the big expectations with had an excellent debut for the Cardinal. In the ground game, the first-year starter did an impressive job of opening holes for Tyler Gaffney and getting movement of defenders. As a pass protector for Kevin Hogan, Peat was very reliable at keeping pressure away from his quarterback. The sophomore was an All-Pac-12 Second-Team selection as a sophomore.

Peat (6-7, 312) is going to see quality defensive linemen throughout 2014. The Pac-12 is one of the best conferences in the nation, and the Cardinal takes on the best the conference has to offer. However, the junior doesn’t appear to have a grueling slate of elite edge rushers. He should continue to protect Hogan well and open holes in the ground game. It would be a big surprise if Peat wasn’t considered to be one of the best, if not the best, left tackle in college football at the end of the season.

Outland Trophy Runner-Up:

Brandon Scherff, Iowa

Iowa has produced a lot of good NFL prospects on the offensive line, and Scherff is the latest Hawkeye to receive a lot of acclaim. He was one of the top tackles in the Big Ten in 2013. All year, Scherff was impressive as he did a good job of protecting his quarterback while being a force in the ground game. To end the season, the junior played well against LSU in his bowl game.

Scherff has the feet and agility to move well as a pass-protector. He can be dominant as a run-blocker, too. Scherff has a lot of strength to get movement at the point of attack. The 6-foot-5, 320-pounder should be the best tackle in the Big Ten in 2014.

Scherff should produce a lot of impressive performances in 2014. Iowa has a quality schedule, but the senior won’t see a grueling slate of edge rushers. If Scherff plays well against Nebraska’s Randy Gregory in the regular-season finale, it could be a performance that finishes off a season to land him a lot of postseason honors.

Outland Trophy Dark Horse:

Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M

Ogbuehi could make it three years in a row that the Aggies will produce a left tackle who gets drafted in the top half of the first round of the NFL Draft. In most colleges, Ogbuehi would have been starting at left tackle for years, but that wasn’t the case at Texas A&M. When Luke Joeckel manned the blind side, Ogbuehi was inside at guard. Last year when Jake Matthews was playing left tackle, Ogbuehi was at right tackle. Now he takes over the left side, and he should handle the transition well.

The 6-foot-5, 300-pounder isn’t the biggest of lineman, but he is athletic and quick. Ogbhehi opens holes in the ground game and has been a very reliable blocker to negate the speed rushers of the SEC. Over the past two seasons, Ogbuehi demonstrated a great ability to sustain blocks while Johnny Manziel danced around behind the line of scrimmage.

Ogbuehi’s senior season could be challenging with the losses that the Aggies have sustained, but he looks ready to keep the tradition of fantastic play at the left tackle position. Ogbuehi may not get as much notice without Manziel drawing attention to Texas A&M, but Ogbuehi could end up being one of the best linemen in the nation.

Honorable Mentions: LSU tackle La’el Collins, Florida State offensive tackle Cameron Erving, Florida offensive tackle Chaz Green, Baylor offensive tackle Spencer Drango, LSU guard Vadal Alexander, Georgia offensive tackle John Theus, South Carolina offensive tackle Corey Robinson, Texas Tech offensive tackle Le’Raven Clark, Oklahoma offensive tackle Daryl Williams, Oklahoma offensive tackle Tyrus Thompson, Oregon offensive tackle Jake Fisher, Florida State guard Tre Jackson, Alabama guard Arie Kouandjio, Florida offensive tackle D.J. Humphries, Syracuse offensive tackle Sean Hickey, Oregon center Hroniss Grasu, Auburn center Reese Dismukes, Oregon State center Isaac Seumalo and Texas A&M center Mike Matthews.

USC defensive tackle Leonard Williams, Alabama defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, Florida State defensive tackle Mario Edwards, UCLA defensive tackle Ellis McCarthy, Mississippi State defensive tackle Chris Jones, Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton, Ohio State defensive tackle Michael Bennett and Iowa defensive tackle Carl Davis.

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