2015 Preseason Award Projections: Outland Trophy

By Charlie Campbell
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Heading into the 2015 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 2016 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 Iowa’s Brandon Scherff. Scherff was our preseason prediction to be the runner up with Stanford’s Andrus Peat winning the award.

Outland Trophy Winner:

Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss

The Outland Trophy has generally gone to offensive linemen. Two years ago, Aaron Donald was the first defensive player to win the award since Ndamukong Suh in 2009. Entering the 2015 season, the defensive tackle position doesn’t look as strong as the offensive line, especially the offensive tackles. Thus, I think the Outland will stick with its inclination of going with an offensive lineman. Thus, I think Tunsil has to be a heavy favorite as he could easily become the most dominant offensive lineman in the nation in 2015.

Tunsil was in the discussion for the best offensive lineman in college football last year, and that list included other standouts like Iowa’s Brandon Scherff and Miami’s Ereck Flowers, both top-10 picks in the 2015 NFL Draft. Tunsil dominated the competition as a sophomore as the the 6-foot-5, 305-pounder is extremely quick and athletic with natural bending skills to mirror speed rushers. He was phenomenal for Ole Miss in 2014. The only issue that could hold him back this season is if he is slow to recover from a leg fracture suffered in the final game last season, or if he has distraction issues stemming from a fight with his step-father. If the junior is 100 percent healthy, he should dominate on the field.




Outland Trophy Runner-Up:

Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame

Stanley took over at left tackle with Zack Martin in the NFL and did a great job for the Fighting Irish. Stanley is strong and quick. He has good length to him and finishes his blocks extremely well. Stanley has the speed and agility to mirror speed rushers and is strong to get movement in the ground game. He surprisingly decided to go back to school for his senior year rather than being a top-20 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Stanley will get plenty of attention playing for Notre Dame and could easily be the winner of the Outland Trophy.




Outland Trophy Dark Horse:

Maliek Collins, Nebraska

When the Outland Trophy decides to go with a non-offensive linemen, it has been a defensive tackle in recent years. Thus, Collins is my dark horse. NFL sources say that Randy Gregory wasn’t the only first-round talent on Nebraska’s defensive line last year. Collins turned in an impressive season with 45 tackles, 17 for a loss, 4.5 sacks and 13 quarterback hurries. Evaluators say they were impressed with Collins and couldn’t help but notice him when they were watching tape of Gregory. Collins (6-2, 300) could be one of the top interior pass-rushers in the nation this year, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he takes his play to another level. That could vault him into some postseason awards like the Outland Trophy.

Honorable Mentions: Baylor OT Spencer Drango, LSU G Vadal Alexander, Georgia OT John Theus, Texas Tech OT Le’Raven Clark, Ohio State OT Taylor Decker, Michigan State OT Jack Conklin, Alabama OT Cam Robinson, Oregon State C Isaac Seumalo, Notre Dame C Nick Martin, USC OL Max Tuerk and Texas A&M C Mike Matthews.

Missouri DT Josh Augusta, Alabama DT A’Shawn Robinson, Notre Dame DT Sheldon Day, Mississippi State DT Chris Jones, Ohio State DT Adolphus Washington, Virginia Tech DT Luther Maddy, Baylor DT Andrew Billings and Penn State DT Anthony Zettel.











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