The Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) has released its preseason watch lists for the Outland and Nagurski Trophies. The Outland Trophy honors the top offensive or defensive lineman in the country. The Nagurski honors the top defensive player. Although no Colorado Buffaloes were named to the Nagurski watch list, two were named to the Outland.
LT Nate Solder and RG Ryan Miller joined 63 other players from across the country competing for the distinction of top lineman in 2010. Only 15 teams in college football placed two or more players on the watch list. Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado were the only three from the Big 12 to send multiple players, putting the Buffs in good company. USC and the Utah Utes also had two players recognized.
Senior Nate Solder, considered a potential first round NFL draft pick in next year's draft, played tight end in high school at Buena Vista in Colorado. He bulked up to 300 pounds on his 6'9" frame but kept his tight end athleticism. "Despite his size, he hovers around 8 percent body fat and runs a 4.8 40-yard dash. For spring practice, he was the recipient of the John Wooten Award for outstanding work ethic, and was the Iron Buffalo Award winner among the offensive lineman, given to those at each position who represent hard work, dedication, toughness and total poundage lifted in the weight room" (source: cubuffs.com).
Solder was named first team All Big 12 last year as a junior, the only Buff to be named to the first team.
Junior Ryan Miller, also a former Colorado prep star, has battled some injuries the past few years but a strong performance against Nebraska and Ndamukong Suh last year showed Buff fans that Miller was capable of being a top offensive guard. The 6'8" guard is seen as one of the Buffs' team leaders. Miller was named honorable mention All Big 12 last year by the AP. This spring, Miller broke a plate that was inserted in his forearm after last season causing him to miss all of spring ball. Head coach Dan Hawkins expects Miller to be back in August for fall ball. Obviously, having both Miller and Solder healthy is key.
Last year, Nate Solder and Ryan Miller took snaps in every game and over 850 for the entire year, far and away the most of any Buff linemen.
The FWAA will consider other players trophies outside of this initial watch list and will also delete players as the season progresses. The FWAA All-America Committee will select three finalists in late November and eventually the overall winner.
Congratulations to Nate Solder and Ryan Miller for the preseason honors.