Ole Miss juniors Laremy Tunsil and Robert Nkemdiche and senior C.J. Johnson all landed on preseason watch lists Tuesday. Tunsil and Nkemdiche are part of the Rotary Lombardi Trophy watch list, given to the nation’s best lineman or linebacker, while Johnson received honors for the Butkus Award, honoring college football’s top linebacker.
Johnson started 12 games for Ole Miss last season at defensive end and has not played the linebacker position for the Rebels in a game since 2011. However, during spring practices the senior moved to middle linebacker and took the majority of first team reps. Johnson, one of three Rebels at SEC Media Day on Thursday, is a fifth year senior who has 137 career tackles, including 24 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks.
Nkemdiche stands out amongst his teammates, receiving his fifth inclusion on a preseason watch list this summer. The defensive tackle, a preseason All-SEC First Team member, recorded 35 tackles and four tackles for loss last season for the Rebels. In addition to the Lombardi Trophy, Nkemdiche has also been named to the watch lists for the Outland Trophy, Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Chuck Bednarik Award and Lott IMPACT Trophy.
In Tunsil’s career with the Rebels, he has only given up two sacks and is projected, along with Nkemdiche, as a first-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Tunsil has also been named to the watch list for the Outland Trophy and has been named preseason All-America first team by Sporting News, Phil Steele, Lindy’s, The Kickoff and CFB Matrix.
(Feature image: CJ Johnson throws up the Landshark against Memphis in 2014. Photo credit: Bentley Breland for The Rebel Walk.)