The Rotary Lombardi Award released its preseason watch list today and eight MAC athletes are listed among the 123 total names. The athletes named are linebacker Justin Cherocci and guard Andy Phillips of Central Michigan, linebacker Jamaal Bass of Northern Illinois, tackle Lincoln Hansen of Eastern Michigan, defensive tackle Treyvon Hester, linebacker Junior Sylvestre and guard Greg Mancz all of Toledo, and center Jacob Richard of Ball State.
Cherocci, a senior, is a former walk-on at Central Michigan and had seven games with double-digit tackles last season. Bass, a junior, was second on the Huskies with 75 tackles last season and was a member of the 2013 All-MAC Defense. Hansen, a senior, was a third team member of the 2013 All-MAC Offense. Hester, a sophomore, was a third team member of the All-MAC Defense as a freshman last season. Mancz, a senior, was named second team All-MAC last season and has also been named the 2014 Rimington Award (which recognizes the best center in college football) watch list. Phillips, a senior, was a second team member of the 2013 All-MAC Offense. Richard, a junior, was part of a Ball State offensive line that ranked 17th in the nation last season in fewest sacks allowed. Sylvestre, a senior, was a member of the first team All-MAC Defense last season and led the Rockets with 118 tackles.
To be eligible for the Lombardi Award, a player must meet the following criteria: "eligibility for the Rotary Lombardi Award is limited to down linemen, end-to-end, either on offense or defense, who set up no father 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." Defensive tackle of Pittsburgh won the award last year.
The Lombardi Award is named after legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi and was first award in 1970. If any one of these players ultimately wins the award, they would be the first ever player from the MAC to win the award.