Nov. 11, 2003
Houston, TX - NCAA quarterback sack leader Dave Ball of UCLA, massive offensive tackle Shawn Andrews of Arkansas along Tommie Harris of Oklahoma and David Pollack of Georgia have been named finalists for the 34th Rotary Lombardi Award, the winner of which will be announced on December 10 in Houston.
For the second consecutive year, the Rotary Lombardi Award Dinner will be held on the field of Reliant Stadium. Hall of Fame lineman Jackie Slater will be the keynote speaker and announce the winner at the end of the evening's festivities. Since the first dinner was organized less than five months after Vince Lombardi died of cancer in September of 1970, the Rotary Lombardi Award has raised nearly $3 million in funds for the American Cancer Society.
Andrews (6-6, 353) is the first Razorback to be honored as a finalist since Billy Ray Smith earned back-to-back nominations in 1981 & 82. He was the first Arkansas sophomore in history to earn first-team All American honors last year. This year, he has graded out at better than 90% in eight of nine games and played every offensive snap in Arkansas seven-overtime victory over Kentucky.
Ball (6-6, 275) is the Bruins first finalist since Jonathan Ogden made the trip to Houston in 1995. Last week in a loss at Washington State, he set UCLA single season (13.5) and career (27.5) sack records. He helped key a 39-0 second half run by the Bruins vs. Washington, collecting 3.5 sacks after halftime as the Bruins came back to win 46-16. For his efforts, he was named the National Defensive Player of the Week.
Harris (6-3, 289) is the 13th player to earn a second nod as a finalist and the first since Andy Katzenmoyer in 1997 & 1998. Harris was named last year as a sophomore. Of the previous 12 repeat finalists, seven have come back to win the award in their second try. The last three repeaters have failed to win the award, the last to take home the trophy in his second attempt was Marvin Jones of Florida State, who won in 1992 after earning a nod in 1991. He and his Sooner defensive mates are coming off a 77-0 blanking of Texas A&M in which the Aggies totaled just 54 yards all day and did not pass their own 45-yard line.
Pollack (6-3, 278) is the Bulldogs first finalist since Matt Stinchcomb in 1998. Pollack was a consensus All-American pick last year as a sophomore. This season, he was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance at Tennessee, which included 2 sacks for a loss of 14 yards, 2 pass deflections, 2 quarterback hurries, and 8 total tackles. His is currently fifth on Georgia's career sack list with 18.5, and his total is the highest for any player with only three seasons under his belt.
This marks the first time since 1988 that the SEC has produced a pair of finalists for the Rotary Lombardi Award. That year, Tracy Rocker of Auburn became the last SEC player to win the award, selected over Derrick Thomas of Alabama, Broderick Thomas of Nebraska and Mark Messner of Michigan. Rocker is now the Defensive Line coach at Arkansas.
Harris is the 12th Sooner to be named a finalist, one more than Ohio State. Of the previous 11, Lee Roy Selmon (1975) and Tony Casillas (1985) went on to win the award. He'll be looking to join Dat Nguyen of Texas A&M and Grant Wistrom of Nebraska as winners from the Big XII. Ball will be looking to give the Pac-10 its second straight winner, joining Terrell Suggs of Arizona State last season.
Tickets for the 34th Rotary Lombardi Award Dinner are currently on sale either by calling the Rotary Club of Houston office at (713) 973-9936 or by logging on to www.rotarylombardiaward.com.