By Bane Rossi
DALLAS (FWAA) – Following a standout performance on the offensive line in Miami’s win over a ranked Texas A&M team Saturday, Anez Cooper was named Outland Trophy National Player of the Week.
Cooper, Miami’s starting right guard, was the top-graded offensive lineman from a Hurricanes blocking front facing a stiff test against Texas A&M. For helping the Hurricanes gain 451 total yards averaging 8.4 yards per play in their 48-33 win over the No. 25 Aggies, the Miami guard earned the honor for games of the weekend of Sept. 9, 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 finalists for the award will be announced on Tues., Nov. 28, and 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, and Cooper will be a part of the Outland Trophy watch list going forward.
Cooper, a 6-6, 350-pound sophomore from Pleasant Grove, Ala., and the Hurricanes outmuscled and outgained the Aggies 451-433 in total yards. Miami allowed just two sacks, neither attributed against Cooper, assisting quarterback Tyler Van Dyke to throw for a career-high five touchdowns, the most scoring passes ever by a Miami quarterback against a top-25-ranked opponent and tied for second all-time among the Hurricane’s vast vault of former signal-callers.
The offensive line’s play was never as essential as the last stages of the second quarter with Miami trailing 17-7. Van Dyke first connected with Isaiah Horton on a 52-yard scoring pass to pull the Hurricanes within three at 17-14. The offensive line then helped engineer a six-play, 75-yard drive that ended with an 11-yard scoring pass to Jacolby George with 13 seconds left before halftime that gave Miami a 21-17 lead.
Miami would not trail again, earning its first win over a top-25 opponent since head coach Mario Cristobal returned to his alma mater two seasons ago. Cooper was also named the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Co-Offensive Lineman of the Week.
The Hurricanes are well-represented in the Outland Trophy annals with two prior winners in offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie in 2001 and defensive tackle Russell Maryland in 1990. Miami also has former finalists, most recently with center Brett Romberg in 2002 and Warren Sapp (1994) and Daniel Stubbs (1987) before that. Romberg is also the most recent of Miami’s five offensive linemen to ever make the FWAA All-America team.
The Hurricanes (2-0) face Bethune-Cookman at home Thursday with a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff on the ACC Network.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com.
COURTESY MIAMI ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS & FWAA