Greg Eslinger Named Outland Trophy Finalist

Minnesota senior center Greg Eslinger has been named one of three finalists for the 2005 Outland Trophy, which is awarded to the best interior lineman in college football. Eslinger joins Auburn offensive tackle Marcus McNeill and Oregon defensive tackle Haloti Ngata as finalists.

"It is a tremendous honor to be a finalist for the Outland Trophy and to be mentioned with the two other great candidates," said Greg Eslinger. "The Outland is one of the top postseason awards with a long history of great players who have been recognized and it is humbling to be among the finalists."

Eslinger has been a driving force behind the Gopher offense since he was a true freshman in 2002. The Bismarck, N.D., native has started 49 straight games, which is the longest current streak in the nation. He helped lead the Gophers to an average of 497.8 yards of total offense per game in 2005, which ranks fifth in the nation, is the highest average in school history, and ranks third all-time in Big Ten history for average yards per game in a season. Due in large part to the play of Eslinger, the Gophers' rushing offense ranked third in the country and first in the Big Ten, averaging 279.9 yards per game, which is the second-highest average in school history and the seventh-highest average in Big Ten history. Eslinger also protected the quarterback as the Gophers only allowed three sacks, the fewest amount of sacks allowed in the Big Ten in 2005.

Eslinger, who was named a consensus first-team All-Big Ten performer for the third consecutive season, is bidding to become the first center to win the award since Aaron Taylor of Nebraska in 1997. Two other Minnesota players have won the Outland Trophy - Tom Brown in 1960 and Bobby Bell in 1962.

The Outland Trophy, which has been awarded annually by the Football Writers Association since 1946, is named after the late John Outland, a lineman at Pennsylvania at the turn of the century. Outland garnered consensus All-America honors in 1898 at tackle and at back in 1899. Dr. Outland was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001. The Outland Trophy is the third oldest award in major college football behind the Heisman Trophy and Maxwell Award.

The winner of the Outland Trophy will be announced on Dec. 8 during the ESPN College Football Awards Show from Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

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