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Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis was named the winner of the 2008 Lott Trophy as college football’s impact player of the year in ceremonies this evening at the Pacific Club in Newport Beach, Calif.

Laurinaitis, the first two-time finalist for the Lott Trophy, was selected over Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo, Florida State defensive back Myron Rolle and Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry for the award which emphasizes integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community and tenacity in a college defender. Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott, namesake of the award, was the host of the event. Legendary broadcaster Keith Jackson was the keynote speaker.

Laurinaitis was introduced by Hall of Famer Howie Long, a member of the Impact Foundation board, who talked about the relationship he formed with OSU’s three-time All-American last year on the college football awards circuit when Long’s son Chris was a candidate for many of the same awards. Long closed his remarks by saying, “Most of all, this is a guy I would have liked to have played with as a teammate, and Ronnie would have too.”

Comments from Laurinaitis, who won the 2006 Nagurski and 2007 Butkus awards as well, after the announcement:
“This is so surprising to me, but such a tremendous honor. I have to thank my Lord Jesus Christ for all the amazing blessings he has sent me and this is such a blessing. Knowing what this award stands for and knowing the reputation and character of Mr. Lott makes it very special. Hearing Keith Jackson announce my name is something I will never forget. It’s a credit to all my Ohio State teammates and an amazing honor. This is truly overwhelming.”