After carefully reviewing the many submissions we got across college football this season, we’ve prepared the final list of candidates for the 2019 Piesman Trophy. As a reminder, the requirements for this award are very simple - it’s designed to honor the greatest play in which a lineman does an un-lineman like thing, at any level of college football.
(Usually that means catching, throwing, or running with the ball, but we want to leave ourselves wiggle room in case a lineman kicks a 47 yard field goal one day.)
The candidates are presented in no particular order. Please review them each and then head to the link at the bottom of this page to cast your vote.
1. Markel Griggs, Utica
An absolutely WILD play! Robbie Schempp forces the fumble, Antonio Scala recovers and gets chased down on the return, but got the football out in time to Markel Griggs, who ran it the rest of the way. #SCtop10 @ESPNAssignDesk @FOXSports @d3football @WKTVSports pic.twitter.com/iILY99QBf3— Utica Pioneers (@UCPioneers) November 16, 2019
You may need to watch this play a few times to really appreciate what happens. The key moment happens around 16 seconds in, and it is a remarkable feat of quick handedness. Football is very rarely a relay race, and when it is, linemen are very rarely getting the baton. But Markel was ready for the exchange all the same.
2. Darrion Daniels, Nebraska
Darrion Daniels spun himself right into an interception. pic.twitter.com/x2Z3lMXtTE— Jacob Padilla (@JacobPadilla_) November 2, 2019
No, Darrion Daniels didn’t score a touchdown. No, that’s not a formal requirement to win the Piesman. Yes, I love this play deeply.
3. Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, Notre Dame
MYRON TAGOVAILOA-AMOSA SNATCHES IT TO SET UP THE IRISH FOR A TD! pic.twitter.com/EJd2D4kVir— Notre Dame on NBC (@NDonNBC) September 28, 2019
How Tagovailoa-Amosa found this ball in the air is still somewhat beyond me. You may also note he slightly shifts the ball to his other hand as the tackle comes so he doesn’t get stripped. Outstanding Piesman work from start to finish.
4. Kyle Schreader, Buffalo State
FB | #ICYMI: @BuffStateFB capped off an 6-play, 99-yard scoring drive in today's game against @UnionAthletics with a wild play consisting off a 31-yard catch by Martin Bailey, a fumble and a scoop and score by offensive lineman Kyle Schreader! Watch the highlights below... pic.twitter.com/Eby5itKSta— Buffalo State Athletics (@bscathletics) October 26, 2019
The offensive linemen who make the Piesman ballot are usually part of a designed play. This ... is definitely not that. When the ball is thrown, he’s at the 48-yard line, but he keeps following the action all the way down to the 12, and that’s why he’s in position to grab this fumble and score. Offensive line coaches should show this in every film session.
5. Drew Himmelman, Illinois State
(Skip ahead to 5:17 to see the eligible play.) Every year, we see a handful of plays where an offensive lineman drops back to catch a long cross-field lateral and rumbles into the end zone, so those need a little something special to make the final Piesman ballot. Going fully parallel to the ground so you can score certainly counts.
6. Samuel Cosmi, Texas
So does beating a defender around the corner and holding on to the ball while you get walloped as you score.
7. Sonatane Lui, Boise State
Clean scoop, excellent awareness to avoid potential tacklers, and bonus points for doing this on the very first snap of the game. One could even argue this was the game-winning touchdown!
8. Big Kat Bryant, Auburn
“But he didn’t score a touchdown!” Bryant is outrunning a tight end and a quarterback for most of this return, and the receiver who finally catches up to him, Bryan Addison, can run a 4.76 40-yard dash, according to ESPN.
9. Demetrius Taylor, Appalachian State
Forcing a fumble on a sack isn’t extremely rare. Recovering that fumble for a touchdown is a little rarer but still not entirely unexpected. Doing both yourself on the same play, as Taylor did here? Immensely impressive.
10. Mika Tafua, Utah
RUMBLIN' BUMBLIN' STUMBLIN' WITH A 68-YARD TD RETURN❗️— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) November 17, 2019
MIKA TAFUA HAS RICE-ECCLES ROCKING❗️
You don’t knock on the door of the College Football Playoff without scoring your fair share of touchdowns. Utah was 17th in the nation in total trips to the end zone in the regular season, with 57, and only five of those other TDs were longer than Tafua’s scamper here.
11. Andrew Rupcich, Culver-Stockton
We created the Piesman to celebrate the moments when linemen do something totally and delightfully unexpected. You know, like this. pic.twitter.com/DqHlpRNwfd— Piesman Trophy (@piesmantrophy) December 4, 2019
Of the possible Piesman paths, linemen passing the ball is easily the rarest one taken. Frankly, I don’t know why that is. If you have a lineman who can throw and the bravery to let him, you can draw up a play that will leave the defense totally lost. Rupcich gets this ball where it needs to be, when it needs to be there. Why wouldn’t you want more of this from your offense?
12. Matt Henningsen, Wisconsin
BIG MAN TOUCHDOWN!— ESPN (@espn) August 31, 2019
That's Wisconsin's first defensive TD since 2017. pic.twitter.com/dcvfrUzdS8
The first Piesman play of 2019 had everything we love about the award: surprise, athleticism, focus, and jubilant teammates. Thank you, Matt Henningsen, for getting our season started right.
13. Brawntae Wells, Northern Iowa
Wells didn’t even flinch when the ball came to him. Didn’t bobble the ball, didn’t stumble on the return. This is a defensive lineman doing a scarily good impression of a cornerback. Bonus: Wells has now made the Piesman ballot two years in a row.
Ready to vote? Decide on your top four Piesman plays and fill out your ballot here.