FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas sophomore Jonathan Luigs has been named as one of six finalists for the Dave Rimington Trophy, presented annually to the top center in the nation, it was announced on Thursday.
Joining Luigs as a finalist are Mark Bihl (University of Michigan), Doug Datish (Ohio State University), Ryan Kalil (University of Southern California), Dan Mozes (West Virginia University) and Darnell Stapleton (Rutgers University). Luigs is the only sophomore finalist with Bihl also qualifying as the only junior on the list. Datish, Kalil, Mozes and Stapleton are all seniors.
“I am pleased that Jonathan has been recognized for his play this season,” Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt said. “Our offensive line has been outstanding and the key to our offensive success. They work extremely well together as a unit and Jonathan is a big part of that. To be named as a Rimington Trophy finalist as a sophomore is a tremendous accomplishment.”
Luigs has anchored a Razorbacks’ offensive front that has been one of the best blocking units in the nation. In fact, Arkansas’ offensive front leads the nation in sacks allowed per game yielding only eight sacks in 12 games this season. Luigs and his teammates have cleared the way for the Southeastern Conference’s top rushing offense. The Hogs rank fourth nationally averaging 236.3 per outing. Arkansas boasts 12 100-yard rushing efforts in 12 games including 1,485 yards from Doak Walker Award finalist Darren McFadden and 961 yards from 2005 Freshman All-American Felix Jones.
The Little Rock, Ark., native has started all 12 games at center for the Razorbacks this season after playing at both offensive guard and center as a freshman in 2005. He is averaging a team-best 89.7 percent grade overall, including a 97.1 percent clip in pass blocking. Luigs has 30 knockdowns this season. He was named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week in the wake of Arkansas’ upset of No. 2 Auburn. He earned Hogwired.com Offensive Player of the Week honors in the Razorbacks’ win over No. 22 Alabama.
The seven-year-old trophy is presented by Canon, MidAmerican Energy Holdings, USA and Black & Decker. The award is hosted by the Boomer Esiason Foundation. Minnesota’s Greg Eslinger (2005), Michigan’s David Baas (2004 co-winner), LSU’s Ben Wilkerson (2004 co-winner), Virginia Tech’s Jake Grove, Miami’s Brett Romberg, Ohio State’s LeCharles Bentley and Nebraska’s Dominic Raiola are past recipients. Esiason created his foundation in 1993 to support research and treatment of cystic fibrosis. Esiason and Dave Rimington were teammates on the Cincinnati Bengals from 1984-87. Rimington, the award’s namesake, was a consensus first team All-America center at Nebraska in 1981 and 1982 during which he became the John Outland Trophy’s only double winner as the nation’s premiere college interior lineman.
The winner is selected by determining the consensus All-American center pick from four existing All-America Teams including: American Football Coaches Association, Walter Camp Foundation, The Sporting News and The Football Writers Association of America.
Because the selectors of these four All-America teams can place centers in a "mix" of offensive linemen that includes guards and tackles, their 11-man first teams can often have two centers. Policy is to count all players that play primarily the center position for their respective teams as centers, even though they maybe listed as guards or tackles on the four All-America teams.
The center with the most first team votes will be determined the winner. If there is a tie with first team votes, then the center with the most second team votes will win. If there is a tie with first team votes, then the center with the most second team votes will win. If there is still a tie, the winner will be determined by the Rimington Trophy committee.
The winner will be honored at the awards banquet at the Rococo Theater in Lincoln, Neb., in January 2007.