A parade of finalist announcements made on Thursday begins with an award that’s handed out annually to the nation’s most outstanding lineman on either side of the ball — or a linebacker who lines up no more than five yards off the ball.
While the Lombardi Award is for linemen on either side of the ball, this year’s finalists are decidedly defensive as there are no offensive linemen among the four final finalists. Instead, there are two defensive linemen and one linebackers.
All are first-time finalists, with two being seniors and two being sophomores.
- Clemson senior defensive end Vic Beasley
- Ohio State sophomore defensive end Joey Bosa
- Washington senior linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha
- Arizona sophomore linebacker Scooby Wright
The individuals who vote for the Lombardi were obviously enamored by the stats that defensive linemen could put up as opposed to the non-stats for offensive linemen.
Kikaha, Wright and Bosa are all in the Top Five nationally in sacks per game, and are in the Top Seven in tackles per loss. Beasley this season became Clemson’s all-time leading sacker, and is in the Top 15 among FBS players this season in sacks and tackles for loss.
Last season’s winner was Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald. And, for those who are wondering, the last offensive lineman to win the award was Ohio State’s Orlando Pace in 1996. Pace actually won it the year before as well, and is the only two-time winner of the prestigious trophy.