NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. Linebacker James Laurinaitis of Ohio State has been named a finalist for the fourth annual Lott Trophy, to be presented Dec. 9.
The Lott Trophy honors the college football Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year. The student-athlete is judged on both his on-field performance and his off-field performance. The Lott Trophy is the only sports award based on personal character and is appropriately named after Ronnie Lott, the legendary defensive back, who had Hall of Fame careers at both the college (USC) and professional (49ers, Raiders, Jets) levels. Previous winners were David Pollack of Georgia (2004); DeMeco Ryans of Alabama (2005); and Daymeion Hughes of Ca (2006).
Voting for the winner was conducted by Ernst & Young with ballots being sent to college offensive and defensive coordinators, national media, The Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation Board of Directors, a Board of Advisors made up of former NFL players and coaches along with the 17 members of the Master Coaches.
The winner will be announced on Dec. 9th at a gala black-tie Awards Banquet at The Pacific Club in Newport Beach, Ca. All four finalists will be flown to Newport Beach for the banquet. The winner’s university will receive $25,000 for its general scholarship fund while the three runnerups will receive $5,000 each for their schools.
The other three finalists are LSU Defensive Tackle Glenn Dorsey, Illinois linebacker J Leman and Virginia defensive end Chris Long.
LSU’s Dorsey is a 6-2, 299-pound senior from Gonzales, La. Most observers expect him to be the one of the first defensive players selected in next spring’s NFL draft. He is a finalist for both the Lombardi and Nagurski awards. He has anchored a Tiger defense that has been among the toughest in the nation all season. Scheduled to graduate on time, Dorsey has been a large influence in the Baton Rouge community as well as his hometown of Gonzales, donating volunteer time to youth groups and children’s hospitals. LSU is 10-2 and has been ranked in the Top 10 all season.
Ohio State’s Laurinaitis won the Nagurski Award as a sophomore last season and is a finalist for the Nagurski, Lombardi and Butkus awards this year. He has been named the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year by both the league coaches and media. The 244-pound junior from Hamel, Minnesota was a 2nd team academic All-American a year ago. He was the Buckeyes’ defensive catalyst, leading them to a third consecutive Big Ten title. In all games, Laurinaitis led Ohio State (11-1) with 103 tackles while also collecting 8.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, two interceptions and a fumble recovery in 12 games
Illinois’ Leman has already graduated and is in the Master’s program. He was a unanimous All-Big Ten choice, a mid-season All-American and a finalist for the Draddy Trophy for academic excellence. The Illini captain is a senior from Champaign with 124 tackles, 40 more than anyone else on the team. Illinois was the most improved team in the country, going from just 2 wins in ’06 to 9-3 this season
Virginia’s Long is a finalist for the Lombardi and Nagurski awards. He leads the ACC in sacks with 14 and is a two-time captain of the Cavaliers. Long was twice named the ACC Defensive Lineman of the Year. He had a blocked field goal and a sack for a safety that led to two of the Cavaliers’ wins. Long also led the Cavaliers with 19 tackles for losses and 21 quarterback hurries. Virginia retired his No. 91 jersey last Saturday in Charlottesville. A 280-pound senior from Ivy, Va., Long will graduate on time. The Cavaliers are 9-3.
The Banquet, which will be televised live by Fox Sports Net, will also feature a tribute to the late Bill Walsh, a founding Board member of the IMPACT Foundation; and the presentation to Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen with a Lifetime IMPACT Award.