Tennessee junior linebacker Jerod Mayo and sophomore center Josh McNeil have their names among players to watch for a couple of key 2007 postseason awards. Mayo is on the watch list for the 2007 Rotary Lombardi Award while McNeil has his name listed among the Dave Rimington Trophy hopefuls.
The 38th annual Rotary Lombardi Award, presented by Wachovia, honoring the top lineman in college football and benefiting the American Cancer Society, will be presented in Houston on Dec. 5 at the Hilton Americas Hotel.
Mayo enters this year as a consensus preseason All-Southeastern Conference selection after compiling 83 tackles last season. The Hampton, Va., native was among the league leaders in tackles until a late-season injury slowed him down, but he still earned second-team All-America honors from Rivals.com.
Although the 103 players now on the Watch List are representative of the nation’s top football players, the list is not intended to serve as the actual ballot when first round voting begins in late September. As recently as 2005, Elvis Dumervil, one of the final four finalists that year, was not included on the Watch List at the start of the season. Any player meeting the basic award criteria — a down lineman on either side of the ball including tight ends and linebackers who line up within five yards of the ball — is eligible to receive votes.
McNeil is one of only five sophomores on the Rimington list.
The Rimington Trophy is in its eighth year of recognizing the most outstanding center in college football.
The spring Watch List, released this past May, has been updated as teams made adjustments to their offensive lines in final preparation for the upcoming season. The list features a total of 54 players, making it easily the largest Rimington Trophy Watch List to date.
West Virginia University’s Dan Mozes won the 2006 Rimington Trophy and is currently playing for the Minnesota Vikings. Other recipients include Minnesota’s Greg Eslinger, Michigan’s David Baas (2004 co-winner), LSU’s Ben Wilkerson (2004 co-winner), Virginia Tech’s Jake Grove, Miami’s Brett Romberg, Ohio State’s LeCharles Bentley, and Nebraska’s Dominic Raiola.
The winner is selected by determining the consensus All-America center pick from four existing All-America teams: American Football Coaches Association, Walter Camp Foundation, The Sporting News and Football Writers Association of America.
The winner will be honored at an awards banquet at the Rococo Theater in Lincoln, Neb., on Jan. 12, 2008.