Brett Pyne | Posted: 23 Jul 2021 | Updated: 27 Jul 2021

Empey selected to Rimington Trophy watch list

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BYU's James Empey named to 2021 Rimington Trophy watch list

NEW YORK — The Rimington Trophy released its 2021 preseason watch list on Friday, naming BYU preseason All-American James Empey among the top candidates to be college football's most outstanding center in 2021.

A three-time Rimington Trophy watch list honoree, Empey has started in all 34 games he has played as BYU's leader on the offensive line. After a FWAA Freshman All-America season in 2018, Empey has been selected to the Rimington Trophy Watch List each of the past three seasons and also enters 2021 as the fourth-team preseason All-American center selection by both Phil Steele and Athlon Sports.

A 6-foot-4, 303-pound native of American Fork, Utah, Empey served as a team captain helping the Cougars achieve an 11-1 record and No. 11 final ranking last season. The anchor of BYU's Joe Moore Award semifinalist offensive line in 2020, Empey was a key leader on the Cougars' offensive attack that ranked No. 4 in scoring (43.5), No. 7 in total offense (522.2) and No. 8 in passing offense (322.1). BYU's offensive line helped create many explosive plays as the Cougars rank No. 1 for the most plays of 30 or more yards and No. 2 for the most plays of 10-plus yards. The BYU offense line also ranked No. 8 in the nation for the fewest sacks allowed (12 sacks in 12 games).

This year, the Rimington Trophy committee worked with Pro Football Focus (PFF) to narrow down its watch list to the top 40 centers. PFF grades every player on every play of every game on how well they execute their given assignment. That play-by-play grading allowed the Rimington Trophy committee to create a watch list based both on nominations from the school and data provided by PFF. Once the season begins, schools will be able to nominate their centers for late addition based on in-season merit. 

Empey, who PFF named the top freshman center in the nation in 2018, has been recognized as one of the top four centers entering 2021 by both Phil Steele and Athlon Sports.

While more than a dozen All-America teams are selected annually, the Rimington Trophy committee uses these three prestigious teams to determine a winner: Walter Camp Foundation (WCF), Sporting News (SN) and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). The Rimington Trophy committee's policy is to count all players that play primarily the center position for their respective teams as centers, even though they may be listed as guards or tackles on the All- America teams. The center with the most first-team votes will be determined the winner. If there is a tie with first team votes, then the center with the most second-team votes will win. If there is still a tie, the winner will be determined by a majority vote from the Rimington Trophy Committee, provided with data from Pro Football Focus.  

Select the following link to view the complete 2021 Rimington Trophy Preseason Watch List.

About the Rimington Trophy 
The Rimington Trophy is presented annually to the most outstanding center in NCAA Division I College Football. Since its inception, the award has raised over $4.8 million for the Boomer Esiason Foundation. Dave Rimington, the award's namesake, was a consensus first-team All-America center at the University of Nebraska in 1981 and 1982, during which time he became the John Outland Trophy's only two-time winner as the nation's finest college interior lineman. For more on the Rimington Trophy and a list of past recipients, visit The Rimington Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 25 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit to learn more about the association. 

About the Boomer Esiason Foundation 
In 1993, Boomer Esiason’s son, Gunnar, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF). Boomer and his wife Cheryl founded the Boomer Esiason Foundation to raise funds and awareness for the cystic fibrosis community. To date, the Foundation has raised over $152 million and works to provide educational and financial resources to help people living with CF in the here and now.   Cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs, digestive system, and reproductive system of about 30,000 Americans by causing a thick build-up of mucus that leads to blockage, inflammation, and infection.

About Pro Football Focus 
Since 2006, PFF has separated themselves from the pack in their ability to provide game-changing data supported through studying every player, on every player, of every game. In 2014, PFF began to do the same for college football. 

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