HOUSTON – Houston freshman defensive tackle Ed Oliver has been named the winner of the 2016 Bill Willis Award, presented annually to the nation’s top defensive lineman, the Touchdown Club of Columbus announced Tuesday.
Named for the late Hall of Fame legend Bill Willis--who broke the color barrier for all African-Americans in both college (Ohio State) and professional football (Cleveland Browns)--the award is presented annually to college football's top defensive lineman.
Oliver, The American Athletic Conference’s Rookie of the Year and one of only two unanimous picks to the league’s all-conference team, finished the regular season second in The American and ninth nationally with 19.5 tackles for loss, and led all defensive linemen nationally with nine pass breakups. He finished the year fourth nationally among all defensive linemen with 43 solo tackles and was 16th among all defensive linemen nationally with 61 total tackles.
Oliver’s 61 tackles led all freshmen in The American, regardless of position, and all freshmen defensive linemen nationally. His five sacks led all freshmen in The American while his nine pass breakups ranked fourth in the league, regardless of position. Oliver also led Houston and finished second in The American with three forced fumbles, a number that ranked second nationally among freshmen.
The 2016 Bill Willis Award be presented during the 62nd Touchdown Club of Columbus Awards on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017 at Express Live! in downtown Columbus.