March 27, 2007

The 2007 Contenders: Outland/Lombardi Awards

Like guards and tackles, the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award are often aligned side by side in trophy cases.

Since Ohio State guard Jim Stillwagon was presented the first Lombardi Award and the Outland Trophy in 1970, both honors have gone to the same person 10 times. The last dual winner was Ohio State tackle Orlando Pace in 1996.

An Outland Trophy contender is always a Lombardi Award contender, but not vice-versa. The primary difference between the two awards is that linebackers are eligible for the Lombardi, while the Outland is designated for interior linemen.

That said, seven of the last eight Lombardi recipients were linemen, and only seven linebackers have won the award in its 37-year history - the most recent being Ohio State's A.J. Hawk in 2005.

Therefore, the Rivals.com list of top 2007 Outland/Lombardi contenders will focus on interior linemen.

But we'll acknowledge a linebacker could receive the Lombardi Award. If that was the case the most likely winner would seem to be Ohio State's James Laurinaitis. Buckeyes seem to pop up everywhere when the Outland and Lombardi awards are discussed.


Rivals.com top Outland Trophy/Lombardi Award contenders
1. Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU: Dorsey is one of the biggest reasons LSU had the third-ranked defense in the nation last season. He posted 64 tackles, which is an enormous amount for a tackle. Consider that All-American DTs Quinn Pitcock of Ohio State and Alan Branch of Michigan both projected as possible first round draft choices this season managed 64 tackles combined. Dorsey didn't record a huge number of sacks (three), but to anyone who saw him play his dominance was obvious. He compares with 2003 Lombardi recipient Tommie Harris of Oklahoma, who managed just 37 tackles but generally wreaked havoc on opposing offenses.
2. Jake Long, T, Michigan: A three-year starter, the 6-foot-7, 313-pound Long was a first team All-Big Ten and All-American selection. Long was named Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year after starting all 13 games at left tackle for the Wolverines, who averaged 370.8 yards per game. He allowed just one sack last season.
3. Sam Baker, T, USC: A two-time All-American and two-time All-Pac 10 selection, the 6-foot-5, 305-pound Baker is a three-year starter at left tackle. He was a big reason the Trojans allowed only 17 sacks in 13 games last season and averaged 395 yards per game.
4. Jonathan Luigs, C, Arkansas: Since Luigs moved into the starting lineup two years ago, Arkansas ranked 12th in the nation in rushing offense in 2005 and fourth in 2006. Yeah, that also has something to do with the arrival of sensational running back Darren McFadden, but somebody has to block for him. Luigs is excellent at that. The Razorbacks also allowed the second fewest sacks in the nation last season. Luigs was the only underclassman that was named first team All-SEC on the line last season.
5. Barry Richardson, T, Clemson: The 6-foot-7, 335-pound Richardson was the first Clemson underclassman to be named a first team All-ACC offensive lineman in a decade. He posted 75 knockdown blocks and allowed just two sacks last season. He started all 13 games last season and has started 32 in a row over the last three years.
Others to consider
Quentin Groves, DE, Auburn: The first team All-SEC pick recorded 35 tackles, 11 for losses, and 9.5 sacks
Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC: A first team All-Pac 10 choice, he posted 34 tackles, eight for losses and 4.5 sacks
Calais Campbell, DE, Miami: An All-ACC first team selection he posted 49 tackles, 20 for losses and 10 sacks
Cody Wallace, C, Texas A&M: Top linemen for offensive unit that ranked eighth nationally in rushing and averaged 397.4 yards per game.
Alex Mack, C, California: The All-Pac 10 selection anchored an offense that averaged 416 yards per game.




 

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