Ohio State's Hawk takes home Lombardi Award
HOUSTON -- Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk won the Rotary Lombardi Award as the nation's top college lineman or linebacker Wednesday night, becoming the fifth Buckeye to receive the honor.
|Rotary Lombardi Award Winners|
|2005||A.J. Hawk||Ohio St.||LB|
|2002||Terrell Suggs||Arizona St.||DE|
|2001||Julius Peppers||North Carolina||DE|
|2000||Jamal Reynolds||Florida St.||DE|
|1999||Corey Moore||Virginia Tech||DE|
|1998||Dat Nguyen||Texas A&M||LB|
|1996||Orlando Pace||Ohio St.||OT|
|1995||Orlando Pace||Ohio St.||OT|
|1993||Aaron Taylor||Notre Dame||OT|
|1992||Marvin Jones||Florida St.||LB|
|1990||Chris Zorich||Notre Dame||NT|
|1989||Percy Snow||Michigan St.||LB|
|1987||Chris Spielman||Ohio St.||LB|
|1978||Bruce Clark||Penn St.||DT|
|1977||Ross Browner||Notre Dame||DE|
|1975||Lee Roy Selmon||Oklahoma||DT|
|1973||John Hicks||Ohio St.||OT|
|1971||Walt Patulski||Notre Dame||DE|
|1970||Jim Stillwagon||Ohio St.||MG|
The other three finalists were Louisville defensive end Elvis Dumervil, Penn State linebacker Paul Posluszny and Texas defensive tackle Rod Wright.
"Anyone who's up for any kind of award, it's a reflection of the team and the guys around them," said Hawk, Ohio State's leading tackler for three straight seasons. "A lot of people don't realize how much the other 10 guys out there help."
About 250 coaches, former finalists and media members voted for the award, given annually by the Houston Rotary Club. Chuck Poole, the event's public relations director, said the club does not release a breakdown of the votes.
Hawk is the first Buckeye to win since Orlando Pace won for the second time in 1996. Jim Stillwagon (1970), John Hicks (1973) and Chris Spielman (1987) also won the award for Ohio State.
The 6-foot-1, 240-pound Hawk was also named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year this year by a panel of coaches and media. He's also in the running for the Walter Camp (player of the year), Bednarik (best defensive player) and Butkus (best linebacker) awards.
The Lombardi Award was initiated by Houston's rotary club in 1970, shortly after its Hall of Fame namesake -- Vince Lombardi -- died of cancer.
The design of the 40-pound trophy -- a block of granite mounted on a steel base -- is a nod to Lombardi's college playing days. Before guiding the Green Bay Packers to victories in the first two Super Bowls, Lombardi was an offensive guard at Fordham in the 1930s, part of a unit nicknamed the "Seven Blocks of Granite."
Hawk was a little surprised to win. He couldn't pinpoint one performance where he felt like he did everything right.
"It's tough to pick a best game because some games I made some big plays, but then missed a couple of tackles and didn't execute, and then other times, I didn't make big plays but felt like I did execute," he said. "Each game, there are always a couple of things I didn't like that I did."
Still, he did enough.
The senior led Ohio State this season with 109 tackles and 13 behind the line. He ranks fifth on the school's all-time tackles list with 382 heading into Ohio State's Tostitos Fiesta Bowl matchup with Notre Dame.
He also led a defense that was the nation's best against the run, giving up only 74.5 yards per game. The Buckeyes also led the Big Ten in scoring, passing and total defense.
Hawk won the award in Wright's hometown.
The 6-5, 315-pound Wright starred at Alief Hastings High School and had his mother, father and sister in the audience.
Wright said the second-ranked Longhorns have already started studying No. 1 USC, the team they'll play for the national championship in the Rose Bowl.
The 6-foot, 256-pound Dumervil leads the nation with 20 sacks. The senior also set an NCAA record with 10 forced fumbles, broke up four passes and intercepted a pass.
The 6-2, 229-pound Posluszny ranked fourth in the Big Ten with 111 tackles. He was the only junior among the finalists.
None of the four coaches attended the ceremony.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press