Handed out annually to the top offensive or defensive lineman in the country, the Lombardi award will be exclusively a defensive honor this year.
The Rotary Club of Houston announced Thursday its four finalists for the 44th edition of the award named in honor of the legendary Green Bay Packers head coach: UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley and Missouri defensive end Michael Sam. In the release announcing the finalists, the group stated that whittling down to these four resulted in “one of the tightest rounds of voting in Rotary Lombardi Award history.
And, before you ask, linebackers are candidates for a lineman award because, as the Lombardi website states, “[a] player should be a down lineman on either side of the ball or a linebacker who lines up no further than five yards deep from the ball.”
Donald, Mosley and Sam were announced earlier today as finalists for the Nagurski Award.
Last year’s winner was Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o. An offensive lineman hasn’t won the Lombardi since Ohio State’s Orlando Pace in 1996, the second of back-to-back trophies for the standout tackle. Pace remains the only player to win the award twice in his career.