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A “new” Outland Trophy will be presented Wednesday to the na

December 7, 1988

NEW YORK (AP) _ A ″new″ Outland Trophy will be presented Wednesday to the nation’s top lineman as selected by the Football Writers Association of America.

The three finalists chosen from the FWAA’s All-America team are offensive tackle Tony Mandarich of Michigan State, offensive guard Mark Stepnoski of Pitt and defensive tackle Tracy Rocker of Auburn.

The 6-foot-6, 315-pound Mandarich ″could very well be the No. 1 (NFL draft) pick overall,″ according to Whitey Dovell, personnel director of the Kansas City Chiefs. Purdue coach Fred Akers calls Mandarich ″the best offensive lineman I’ve ever seen.″

The 6-3, 270-pound Stepnoski is the top blocker for a team that averaged 253.2 yards a game on the ground and 414.4 overall. He also is one of the National Football Foundation’s 11 scholar-athletes for 1988.

Rocker, 6-3 and 278, was the only underclassman selected as one of the four finalists for the Lombardi Award last season and is one of the final four again this year.

″Without a doubt, Tracy Rocker is the most outstanding defensive lineman in America today,″ says LSU coach Mike Archer.

The original Outland Trophy was stolen in 1967 during a banquet at which Ron Yary of Southern Cal received the award.

Wednesday’s winner will receive a bronze sculpture created by former Syracuse and Dallas Cowboys star Jim Ridlon. It depicts a lineman moving into action with one arm raised in a defensive move, the other in a traditional offensive position.

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