The Rotary Lombardi Award Committee has released their official Watch List for the Rotary Lombardi Award this morning. Among the 144 players named to the list include 13 players from the MAC (eight teams had representatives).
Eligibility for the Rotary 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 13 players include Jatavis Brown (Akron Zips), Alex Huettel (Bowling Green Falcons), Joe Ostman, Ramadan Ahmeti, Blake Serpa (Central Michigan Chippewas), Pat O'Connor, Great Ibe (Eastern Michigan Eagles), Jovan Santos-Knox (UMass Minutemen), Andrew Ness, Boomer Mays (Northern Illinois Huskies), Trent Voss (Toledo Rockets), James Kristof and Willie Beavers (Western Michigan Broncos).
Jatavis Brown is the heart of Akron's defense, coming into the season with two straight seasons of First Team All-MAC honors under his belt as a linebacker. Jovan Santos-Knox, however, had huge breakout season last year a linebacker for UMass with 143 tackles (fifth in the nation). Great Ibe shined in EMU's first year in the 3-4 system and is also expected to be a First Team all-conference player this year. NIU's Boomer Mays had 75 total tackles last year, but also had nine tackles for loss with Second Team accolades at the end of last season.
Eagles defensive lineman Pat O'Connor led the MAC with 7.5 sacks for a total of 14 tackles for loss (73 yards lost). Trent Voss is flexible, playing both defensive end and linebacker this season for the Rockets, has a lot to prove this year to get Toledo to Detroit this year. CMU has two defensive linemen on this list: Joe Ostman and Blake Serpa. Last year, they combined for 12.5 tackles for loss for 78 yards lost.
Offensive linemen Alex Huettel, Ramadan Ahmeti, Andrew Ness, James Kristof and Willie Beavers are all on Phil Steele's 2015 preseason All-MAC team.
The winner of the 46th Rotary Lombardi Award will be announced on December 9 at the Bayou Music Center.