According to the Football Writers Association of America, Mohammed Elewonibi of Brigham Young was the best interior linemen in the country this season. So why was he left off most All-America teams?
"He's the best-kept secret in America," said Marion Dunn, president of the Football Writers Association, which awarded Elewonibi the Outland Trophy on Wednesday."He was born in Nigeria, moved to Canada when he was 11, didn't play football in high school and wasn't a full-time starter until this season. Even BYU didn't know how good he was going to be."
Dunn is a columnist for The Daily Herald in Provo. But he says he didn't lobby to get Elewonibi the Outland.
"I didn't push him at all," Dunn said. "Ralph Routon watched him play and thought he was the best lineman in America."
Routon, executive sports editor of the Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph, was on the eight-member panel that picked the Outland winner. He agreed that Dunn played no part in the selection.
"We had five conference calls, four for our All-America team and one for the final Outland selection, and Marion never said one word about any player," Routon said.
Routon, who saw one BYU game in person and two others on television, said several pro scouts told him that the 6-foot-5, 290-pound Elewonibi was the best lineman in the country.
"He's overpowering," Routon said. "The first time I saw him, I couldn't believe it. I said, `Lord, who is this guy?' "
Elewonibi isn't the first BYU linemen to win the Outland after being left off most All-America teams. The same thing happened to Jason Buck in 1986.