LOGAN, Utah – Utah State senior offensive center Austin Stephens was tabbed to the 2016 Dave Rimington Trophy Fall Watch List, it was announced Wednesday by the Rimington Trophy Committee. The Rimington Trophy is presented annually to the Most Outstanding Center in NCAA Division I-A College Football.
Overall, it is the second time in as many years that Stephens has been named to the Rimington Trophy Fall Watch List.
Entering his senior season, Stephens is also named a preseason first-team all-Mountain West selection by both Athlon Sports and Phil Steele.
Stephens is one of six Mountain West centers on the 56-player list, joined by Jake Bennett (Colorado State), Asotui Eli (Hawai’i), Nathan Goltry (Nevada), Arthur Flores (San Diego State) and Will Kreitler (UNLV). Stephens is also the only center from the state of Utah to make the list.
The native of West Des Moines, Iowa, is just the fourth Aggie to be named to the Rimington Trophy Watch List, joining Tyler Larsen (a three-time selection, most recently in 2013), Ryan Tonnemacher (2007) and Brent DeLadurantey (2005).
The winner will be recognized at the Rimington Trophy Presentation at the Rococo Theatre in Lincoln, Neb., on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017.
Stephens was an all-Mountain West honorable mention selection and a Phil Steele second-team all-Mountain West honoree in 2015 as Utah State played in its school-record fifth-straight bowl game.
As a junior, Stephens started all 13 games at center and had an overall performance grade of 78 percent, which included five games over 80 percent. The 6-foot-3, 305-pounder recorded 42 knockdowns overall, including a season-high six at Utah, and allowed just one sack on the season. His best game of the year was against Wyoming as he graded out at 86 percent and recorded four knockdowns.
As a sophomore in 2014, Stephens started all 14 games at center and had an overall performance grade of 85 percent for the season. He graded out at 86 percent in effort, including nine games over 80 percent, along with grading out at 92 percent in assignment, including 11 games over 90 percent, and 75 percent in technique, which included four games over 80 percent.
During the 2014 campaign, Stephens recorded 50.0 knockdowns, including a season-high nine against both BYU and UNLV. His best overall game was against the Rebels, when he graded out at 93 percent, including 97 percent in assignment, 94 percent in effort and 87 percent in technique.
Utah State returns 12 starters (O-9, D-3) and 38 letterwinners (O-20, D-15, S-3) from last year’s team that posted a 6-7 record, finished tied for second in the Mountain Division of the Mountain West with a 5-3 mark, and ended its season by playing in a school-record fifth-straight bowl game as it faced Akron in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
Utah State will open the 2016 season on Thursday, Sept. 1, at home against Weber State and will begin Mountain West play on Saturday, Sept. 24, at home against Air Force.
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<strong>About the Rimington Trophy</strong>
The Rimington Trophy is presented annually to the Most Outstanding Center in NCAA Division I-A College Football. Since its inception, the Rimington Trophy has raised over $2.6 million for the cystic fibrosis community. The award is overseen by the Boomer Esiason Foundation, which is committed to finding a cure for cystic fibrosis and has raised over $120 million for the fight against cystic fibrosis.
Dave Rimington, the award’s namesake, was a consensus first-team All-America center at the University of Nebraska in 1981 and 1982, during which time he became the John Outland Trophy’s only double winner as the nation’s finest college interior lineman.
For more on the Rimington Trophy and a list of past recipients, visit www.rimingtontrophy.com.
<strong>About the NCFAA</strong>
The Rimington Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. Visit www.NCFAA.org to learn more about its story.