Eloy Atkinson, a Senior Center on the UTEP Football Team, has been named to the Rimington Award Watch List. The Rimington Award is presented to the premier centers in each of the following divisions: FCS, Division II, Division III, and NAIA. The recipients of the Rimington Award are chosen by Jason Dannelly, founder of the Victory Sports Network.
A suggestion by a retired “San Francisco Examiner” sportswriter, Syd Russell, to a former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback, Boomer Esiason, led to the creation of the Rimington Trophy.
That happened in 2000, when Russell, who was writing a series of articles about national college football awards, learned that there were awards for players at every position except center.
Because he knew the Boomer Esiason Foundation promoted several sports-related programs to raise funds for the treatment and research of cystic fibrosis (a disease Boomer’s teenage son has had since infancy), Russell called that omission to Esiason’s attention and suggested that BEF sponsor an annual trophy for the outstanding NCAA Division 1-A center.
Russell expanded on his proposal by saying, “The award’s namesake should be Rimington,” whom he regards as the premier college center of all time, an opinion based on Rimington’s achievements as a junior and senior at Nebraska in 1981 and ’82 – years when the 6-foot-3, 285-pound hiker and blocker was the unanimous All-American and the only double winner of the prestigious John Outland trophy as Division 1-A’s best interior lineman.
Rimington, a 1997 College Football Hall of Fame inductee, and Esiason, the NFL’s top quarterback in 1988 with a 97.4 rating, were Cincinnati teammates from 1984 through ’87.
Russell’s writing career has taken him to 12 countries, including Japan, where he was the sports editor of the “Asahi Evening News,” an English-language newspaper in Tokyo.