Dec 15, 2010 1:09 AM
BOULDER - University of Colorado senior Nate Solder was named to the Associated Press All-America team Tuesday, in the process becoming the first offensive tackle in the history of the Buffalo program to earn consensus All-America honors.
Solder, a 6-9, 315-pounder from the small mountain town of Buena Vista, becomes the 25th player in Colorado history to earn consensus and/or unanimous honors. Linebacker Jordon Dizon was the last to do so, earning consensus status in 2007. The last offensive player to garner consensus honors or better was Daniel Graham, who was a unanimous selection in 2001 when he won the John Mackey Award as the nation's best tight end.
"Being an All-American is something I've always dreamed of, so it's really amazing to me that it happened," Solder said. "I was always told that I could be good, but I never realized it would be to this magnitude."
Solder reflected upon his switch from tight end to tackle after his redshirt freshman season in 2007.
"I enjoyed playing tight end, but it was Coach (Jeff) Grimes, who supported me and saw things in me that other people didn't see," Solder said. "He's the one who sat me down and talked to me about making the switch, and was real supportive that first year. Frankly, I wasn't very good, but he was there for me, keeping my spirits up. Coach (Dan) Hawkins, too. I was sort of crushed when Coach Grimes left (he went to Auburn after the '08 season), but Denver (Johnson) took me from the sophomore who wasn't very good to the senior who became an All-American. He told me when I first got here that I could get on some awards lists and make All-American, but I really didn't believe him at the time."
The NCAA recognizes five organizations for its All-America teams, and to earn consensus status a player must make three of those teams (or two if he is the only multiple player listed at a particular position). Solder had previously been named to the Walter Camp Football Foundation and the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) teams; Solder was not on the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) team, the most political of the five as the coaches strive for a more balanced conference representation. The fifth team, selected by The Sporting News, will be released this week in its printed magazine; CU officials have been told Solder will be on that team as well.
Solder became the first Buffalo offensive tackle to garner All-America accolades since Stan Brock was recognized in 1979. A unanimous All-Big 12 performer, Solder was the conference's Offensive Lineman of the Year and one of 16 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athletes. He graduated last May with a 3.52 grade point in Biology, and has been taking classes toward a second major in Integrative Physiology.
He was also one of three finalists for the Outland Trophy along with Wisconsin left offensive tackle Gabe Carimi, who won the honor, and Florida State left guard Rodney Hudson. He was CU's first finalist since guard Joe Garten finished as the runner-up in 1990.
Solder played every snap on offense for the Buffaloes this past fall (847), grading out to an astonishing 94.3 percent for the season. He led the team in knockdown/finishing blocks with 142 (similar to the more familiar term, pancake blocks), and also posted a team-high 10 touchdown blocks. He allowed just one quarterback sack and three pressures (all but one of those in one game), and was called for just one penalty on the year. He graded out at 90 percent or higher in 11 games, including a season-best 99 percent against Kansas State. After moving to tackle from tight end following his redshirt freshman season in 2007, Solder played all but two snaps on offense, or 2,540 of a possible 2,542 plays.
Joe Romig (guard, 1960-61), Barry Helton (punter, 1985-86), Joe Garten (guard, 1989-90) and Alfred Williams (outside linebacker, 1989-90) are the four Buffaloes who have twice been recognized as consensus All-Americans, with Garten and Williams claiming unanimous honors their senior year.