Midwestern State's Amini Silatolu finished a surprising runner-up in the Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year voting presented by the Manheim Touchdown Club as announced earlier this week by project coordinator Don Harris.
Silatolu, who is widely considered as the top lineman and perhaps the best interior prospect at any level by many professional scouts, was edged out by Wayne State offensive tackle Joe Long.
The 6-6, 308-pound Long become the eighth recipient of the prestigious award. He receives a trophy in the likeness of Gene Upshaw and an automatic invitation to participate in the East/West Shrine Game on Jan. 21 in St. Petersburg, Fla.
The award is presented annually to the top NCAA Division II junior or senior lineman in the nation as selected by sports information directors at the 154 football-playing D2 institutions.
Delta State senior center Darrell Leopold, Abilene Christian senior defensive end Aston Whiteside (a Vernon native) and Concordia (Minn.) senior offensive tackle Tyler Hendrickson finished third through fifth, respectively, in the field of nine national finalists.
Rounding out the list of finalists were Gannon (Pa.) senior defensive tackle Randy Colling, Cheyney (Pa.) senior defensive end Tim Hume, Lenoir-Rhyne (N.C.) senior offensive lineman Chandler Rearden and New Haven (Conn.) senior offensive guard David Stedham.
Long was a four-time All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference performer (first team in 2010 and 2011). He blocked for a 1,000-yard rusher in each of his four seasons including Joique Bell (1,152 yard in 2008 and 2,084 yards in 2009), Josh Renel (1,249 yards in 2010 and 1,353 yards in 2011) and Toney Davis (1,557 yards in 2011).
Long helped Wayne State to a national finalist appearance in 2011 as Warriors ranked 67th in total offense (380.2 yards per game), 33rd in rushing offense (200.6 yards per game), 109th in passing offense (179.3 yards per game) and 23rd in scoring offense (34.4 points per game).
Silatolu enjoyed one of the best individual seasons in Midwestern State history earned first-team All America honors from the American Football Coaches' Association, Associated Press and Daktronics.
The 6-3, 320-pound left tackle helped lead MSU to its first unbeaten regular season as the Mustangs topped the nation in total offense (531.9 yards per game) and scoring (48.6 points per game), were second in rushing offense (323.5 yards per game) and 82nd in passing offense (207.5 yards per game).
Silatolu has been invited to participate in the 2012 Senior Bowl which will be played at Loyd Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala. on Saturday, Jan. 28. The game kicks off at 3 p.m. (Central Time) and will be broadcast on the NFL Network.