Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald was named this year’s Lombardi Award winner Wednesday night in Houston. Donald beat out three other finalists for the award, presented to the nation’s top lineman or linebacker by the Rotary Club of Houston.
“It is truly a blessing and an honor to receive such a great award,” Donald said. “I am so blessed.”
Donald led the nation with 26.5 tackles for a loss this season and was named the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year. Earlier this week Donald was also named the Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner. Donald is a finalist for the Outland Trophy and Bednarik Award, each of which will be awarded Thursday night.
“Aaron is a tremendous young man and a terrific athlete. He embodies everything the Rotary Lombardi Award is about,” Rotary Lombardi Award committee chair Brian Carr said. “ We are so proud to present Aaron as the latest winner and our newest member of the Lombardi Award family.”
UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, Alabama linebacker CJ Mosley and Missouri defensive end Michael Sam were also finalists for the award.
The Lombardi Award has been awarded by the Rotary Club of Houston to the top lineman or linebacker in college football since 1970. Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o won the award in 2012. Donald is the second Pittsburgh player to win the award, joining College Football Hall of Fame linebacker Hugh Green. Green won the award in 1980 in addition to the Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award and more accolades.
Ole Miss will be without a starting piece of its defensive puzzle for an extended period of time, both the player and the school revealed Tuesday.
With rumors swirling about his condition, C.J. Johnson confirmed on his personal Twitter account late this morning that he will be undergoing surgery at some point in the not-too-distant future. The linebacker sustained an injury to his left knee in last Saturday’s loss to Florida and did not return to the contest.
Subsequent to that posting, Ole Miss confirmed that Johnson underwent surgery earlier in the day to repair a torn meniscus in his knee. The procedure and rehab will sideline Johnson for a period of 4-6 weeks.
At the low-end of the prognosis, Johnson would miss the next four games — New Mexico State, Memphis, Texas A&M, Auburn — and return for the Nov. 7 game against Arkansas. The high-end would have him sidelined until the regular-season finale against Mississippi State.
Johnson had started all five games at middle linebacker for the Rebels. He started 26 games at defensive end the past three years before moving to linebacker.
Already in the crosshairs for his 2-3 team’s late-game failures, Butch Jones now finds himself under increasing scrutiny for something that allegedly happened a couple of months ago.
The website Gridiron.com, which features such respected journalists Tony Barnhart and Mike Huguenin among others, reported earlier today that the Tennessee head coach was involved in what was described as a “physical altercation” with senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder during summer camp this past August. The source close to the program added that practice film that day captured the alleged incident, although it’s unclear if that tapes still exists.
From the site’s report:
The incident occurred during fall camp, about the time that news started to come out about a few offensive linemen who were considering stepping away from the program. Crowder walked off the practice field one day and missed a day or two of practice, and Brett Kendrick and Dylan Wiesman were said to be contemplating their futures. Sources say the players’ actions stemmed from an incident between Jones and Crowder.
The website also made a Freedom of Information request seeking any correspondence between the university and the Crowder family be turned over, but writes that UT “administrators said any sort of letter or correspondence that may or may not have happened was covered under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.”
Monday, Jones labeled what began as message-board speculation that he had struck one of his Vols players as “absolutely ridiculous.” The Knoxville News Sentinel contacted Crowder’s father, with the paper writing that “he had no comment and did not want to give validation to message boards.”
At least publicly, the university has yet to address the allegations. Jones will get yet another chance to address the speculation with the media in the very near future.