ATLANTA, Sept. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- The only major college football honor chosen exclusively by college football fans -- the Cingular All-America Player of the Week -- is back for an exciting third year, and the first four nominees of the 2006 season have been added to the ballot after the opening weekend of action.
University of Tennessee wide receiver Robert Meachem, UCLA quarterback Ben Olson, Rutgers University running back Ray Rice and West Virginia University running back Steve Slaton have been selected by an expert panel of ESPN college football analysts as this week's top candidates based on their outstanding performances this past weekend.
Meachem hauled in five receptions for 182 yards and two touchdowns in the 23rd-ranked Volunteers' 35-18 win over No. 9 California. Olson, making his first collegiate start, passed for 318 yards and three touchdowns in the Bruins' 31-10 victory over Utah. Rice led the Scarlet Knights to a 21-16 win over North Carolina with 201 yards rushing and a career-high three touchdowns. It was his third consecutive 100-yard rushing performance. Slaton, who was also nominated for the Cingular All-America Player of the Week once last season, rushed for 203 yards and two touchdowns in helping No. 5 West Virginia cruise to a 42-10 win over Marshall. It was his second straight 200-yard outburst.
Now it's up to college football's true pundits -- the fans -- to determine who will be this week's Cingular All-America Player of the Week. Fans have until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday to participate in the voting by text messaging "VOTE" to "87654" on their wireless phone.* The winner will be announced on September 7 during ESPN's Thursday Night College Football Game between Oregon State and Boise State. The Cingular All-America Player of the Week program will continue throughout the season, with the nominees being revealed each Sunday on the 9 a.m. ESPN "SportsCenter", via text message alerts and on the Web at espnallamerica.com/.
Fans can vote as many times as they like, with each vote counting as one entry into a sweepstakes to win a trip to the 2007 BCS National Championship game in Glendale, Ariz. Cingular customers can visit Cingular's wireless NCAA® Football Portal on their handset to view video highlights of each week's candidates, retrieve photos, check scoreboards, track their favorite teams and download school ringtones.
In December, four finalists for the Cingular All-America Player of the Year award will be announced during a one-hour special on ABC Sports when the Football Writers Association of America All-America team will also be announced. Fans will then get a chance to say who the best player in the nation is by voting for the Cingular All-America Player of the Year up until the Bowl Championship Series. The selection process will culminate during the BCS National Championship game on FOX when the Cingular All-America Player of the Year will be presented.
Last year, University of Texas quarterback Vince Young was crowned as the Cingular All-America Player of the Year, beating out USC teammates Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart and Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn. He was the second Longhorn to claim the award, after running back Cedric Benson won the inaugural honor in 2004.
*Other wireless carriers must opt-in for their subscribers to participate. Standard text messaging rates apply.