Oklahoma football: Orlando Brown in running for Outland Trophy

NORMAN, OK - OCTOBER 15: Quarterback Baker Mayfield
NORMAN, OK - OCTOBER 15: Quarterback Baker Mayfield /

Orlando Brown, the anchor of the Oklahoma football offensive line, considered one of the best in college football this season, is one of six semifinalists for the Outland Trophy.

The redshirt junior plays the critical offensive left tackle position, the position that is most responsible for protecting the backside of right-handed Sooner quarterback Baker Mayfield.

This fact alone, along with Mayfield the being consensus front runner in this year’s Heisman Trophy race and with OU a legitimate contender for the 2017 College Football Playoff, should help elevate Brown’s chances of capturing this year’s Outland Trophy as the best interior lineman on offense or defense in college football’s Football Bowl Subdivision.

Even though Brown’s challengers for the 2017 Outland Trophy – reported by NBC Sports to be the third oldest individual award in college football – are only five deep at this stage, they represent the best of the best at their position in the college game.

The candidates include five offensive linemen and one defensive lineman. The other semifinalists include two from Notre Dame, offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey and offensive guard Quenton Nelson, Western Michigan offensive tackle Chukwuma Okorafor, Ohio State center Billy Price and Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver.

I’m not sure what measurement criteria you use to judge the best interior lineman, but given the Sooners’ success on the field this season, especially on the offensive end, it would be hard not to give the nod to OU’s Brown.

One factor that could work against the Sooner redshirt junior, however, in the final balloting is the fact that he is not a senior. Three of the semifinalists are seniors or graduate seniors (the two Notre Dame candidates and OSU’s Price), and Houston’s Oliver is just a sophomore.

As far as NFL draft status is concerned, Brown will still have an year of eligibility remaining, but he is expected to forgo his senior season and declare for the NFL Draft next spring. While he is expected to be a high draft pick, I have also seen the names of the two Notre Dame O-linemen listed as potential first-rounders in the 2017 draft, and Price will probably go in the first or second round, as well.

We won’t have long to contemplate the outcome of the Outland Trophy selection process, though, because the field will be trimmed to three finalists this coming Tuesday (Nov. 21). I would be surprised if Brown, an Associated Press 2017 midseason All-American and reigning Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year, is not among the three finalists.

The winner of the 2017 Outland Trophy will be announced on Dec. 7. Five former Oklahoma Sooners are past winners of the award: Jammal Brown (2004), Greg Roberts (1978), Lee Roy Selmon (1975), J.D. Roberts (1953) and Jim Weatherall (1951).