Ole Miss sophomore Robert Nkemdiche has been named to the 2014 Rotary Lombardi Award preseason watch list announced Monday. The award was established in 1970 by the Rotary Club of Houston in memory of Vince Lombardi to honor the top Division IA college football lineman.
If Nkemdiche wins, the Loganville, Georgia native would be the first Lombardi Award winner for Ole Miss.
This marks the third major preseason watch list for Nkemdiche, as he was named to the Nagurski Tophy and Outland Trophy watch lists last week.
Per the Lombardi Award website, eligibility for the Lombardi Award is limited to: “down linemen, end-to-end, either on offense or defense, who set up no farther than 10 yards to the left or right of the ball, or linebackers who set up no farther than five yards deep from the line of scrimmage.”
The candidates earned a place on the preliminary watch list by earning All-American honors, being named to their respective all-conference teams or receiving 2014 pre-season honors.
Nkemdiche was named a Freshman All-American in the 2013 season after finishing with 34 tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss (TFL) and 2.0 sacks. His average of 0.73 TFL per game ranked him second in the SEC for freshmen. He has been named a preseason All-America and All-SEC pick by numerous gridiron publications this year.
The 45th Rotary Lombardi Award ceremony will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014 at the Bayou Music Center in Houston, Texas.
A few interesting facts about the Rotary Lombardi Award:
- All net proceeds from the award benefit the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Children’s Cancer Hospital and Texas Children’s Hospital Cancer and Hematology Center. Since its inception, millions of dollars have been raised to support cancer research and direct patient care.
- The Rotary Lombardi Award trophy is made from 40 lbs. of Texas pink granite chiseled to resemble the stance of a lineman.
- 77 Lombardi Award winners and finalists have been chosen in the first round of the NFL draft – nine were number one picks.
- Eight previous winners and finalists are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
- 45 Division I colleges have been represented by winners and finalists.
- Defensive ends have won the most Lombardi Award trophies.
- 35 winners have come from the defensive side of the ball and 9 from the offensive side.
- Orlando Pace is the only multiple winner of the Lombardi Award trophy, winning in 1995 and 1996. Nine winners of the award were a previous year’s finalist.
- 33 previous winners and finalists are members of the college football hall of fame.
For the complete 2014 Lombardi Award watch list, visit: http://www.rotarylombardiaward.org/pdf/2014-Rotary-Lombardi-Award-Watch-List.pdf
Photo courtesy of Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics