A conference traditionally known more for offense than defense, along with a league well-versed in the opposite, are very well represented for an honor that rewards performance on the latter side of the ball.
The Lott IMPACT Trophy revealed nine semifinalists Wednesday, with two-thirds of them coming from the Big Ten and Pac-12. The Big semifinalists were a trio of linebackers — Wisconsin’s Chris Borland, Iowa’s James Morris, Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier — while the Pac-12 representatives ranged from the defensive line (USC’s Devon Kennard) to linebacker (UCLA’s Anthony Barr) to the secondary (Stanford’s Ed Reynolds).
There was one player each from the ACC (Pittsburgh defensive lineman Aaron Donald), the SEC (Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley) and an Independent (BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy).
Position-wise, six of the nine semifinalists are linebackers, two are defensive linemen and one a defensive back.
Last year’s winner of the Lott IMPACT Trophy, which gives out $25,000 to the winning school’s general scholarship fund as well as $5,000 each to the runnerups, was Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o.