Three MW Football Players Nominated for Burlsworth Trophy

Nov. 14, 2012

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Three Mountain West players have been nominated for the 2012 Burlsworth Trophy, awarded to the most outstanding football player in the country who began his career as a walk-on. Colorado State senior linebacker James Skelton is on the list for the second straight year, and is joined by Fresno State outside linebacker Tristan Okpalaugo and New Mexico strong safety Matt Raymer on the list of 50 candidates for the award.

Nominees for the award, which is named after former Arkansas walk-on and All-American offensive lineman Brandon Burlsworth, must have begun their first season of participation with a Division 1 Football Bowl Subdivision program without financial aid from their athletic department.

Without one Division 1 scholarship offer, Burlsworth walked on to the Razorback team in 1994, worked his way to being a three-year starter and was eventually named an All-American in 1998. He was selected as the 63rd overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1999 NFL draft, but was tragically killed in a car accident 11 days later. The Burlsworth Foundation was created in his memory and supports the physical and spiritual needs of children, in particular those children that have limited opportunities.

Skelton, a product of Littleton, Colo., has registered 32 total tackles this season, including 15 solo stops and 0.5 tackles for loss. The senior also has three rushes to his credit and one rushing touchdown, before suffering an ankle injury against UNLV on Nov. 10.

Okpalaugo, who hails from Livermore, Calif., move to outside linebacker this season and is fourth on the squad with 46 total tackles (34 solo). The senior has tallied 9.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, one fumble recovery, and an interception, which he returned 21 yards for a touchdown at Tulsa on Sept. 22.

Raymer, a native of Albuquerque, N.M., has 59 total tackles this season (nine solo) to rank second for the Lobos. The senior has collected five tackles for loss and one sack, while forcing three fumbles and picking off one pass.