By Rob Moseley
Two awards watch lists released Thursday listed a total of six Ducks, including two making second appearances on the series of 2014 preseason watch lists being released this week and next.
Senior center Hroniss Grasu was one of three UO linemen named to the Outland Trophy watch list on Thursday, two days after Grasu received similar mention from the Rimington Trophy. Senior cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu also has made two watch lists at this point, having been listed for the Bronco Nagurski Trophy on Thursday and the Bednarik Award on Monday.
The Outland Trophy is awarded by the Football Writers Association of America to the nation’s best interior lineman. Grasu was joined on its preseason watch list Thursday by Oregon’s returning starters at offensive tackle, Jake Fisher and Tyler Johnstone.
Grasu, Fisher and Johnstone join guards Cameron Hunt and Hamani Stevens on a UO offensive line that returns all five starters in 2014. They paved the way for the Pac-12’s most prolific offense last fall, measured by both points and yards per game.
The Bronco Nagurski Trophy is bestowed upon the nation’s best defensive player by the FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club. Ekpre-Olomu, named second-team all-American by the FWAA last season, was joined by UO senior inside linebacker Derrick Malone and senior outside linebacker Tony Washington on the Nagurski Trophy watch list released Thursday.
Malone led the Ducks with 104 tackles in 2013, and Ekpre-Olomu was second with 84. Washington had 12 tackles for loss, including 7.5 sacks, both of which led the team, as did his four forced fumbles.
On Friday, the Jim Thorpe Award watch list will be released, featuring candidates to be named the nation’s best defensive back at season’s end.