HOUSTON, Tex. (WCBI/Ole Miss Athletics) – Denzel Nkemdiche added another preseason honor to his name on Monday when he was included on the preliminary watch list for the 2013 Rotary Lombardi Award.
The rising sophomore linebacker from Ole Miss is one of 106 players on the watch list, including 18 from the Southeastern Conference.
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 candidates earned a place on the preliminary watch list by earning All-American honors, being named to their respective all-conference teams or receiving 2013 pre-season honors. The Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List will be updated prior to the start of the 2013 season in order to identify other players who have received significant pre-season honors
Nkemdiche is also on the watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and has been tabbed preseason All-SEC and All-America this year by several magazines and websites that make early prognostications.
A native of Loganville, Ga., he led Ole Miss with 82 tackles, 13.0 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles and three interceptions as a redshirt-freshman last season. He earned Freshman All-America distinction, All-SEC second team and SEC All-Freshman accolades.
CHICAGO, Ill. (WCBI/Ole Miss Athletics) – Ole Miss senior linebacker D.T. Shackelford is one of 51 candidates on the preseason watch list for the 29th annual Butkus Award®, which honors the nation’s best linebacker.
A vocal team leader, Shackelford will make his return to the playing field this fall after missing the last two years with knee injuries. The Decatur, Ala., native recorded 68 tackles, 11.0 TFLs, 5.0 sacks, three fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and an interception in 23 games played as a freshman and sophomore. He was a 2009 SEC All-Freshman pick and the 2011 Chucky Mullins Courage Award winner.
Shackelford was previously named to the preseason watch list for the Lott IMPACT Trophy, as well.
The Butkus Award is named after Dick Butkus, who is regarded by NFL Films as the best defensive player in football history. The selection panel is comprised of 51 coaches, evaluators and journalists. Players who do not appear on the watch list may be considered for the award.
The watch list includes 51 candidates from 37 universities. C.J. Mosley of Alabama is the only returning finalist, along with returning semi-finalists Jonathan Brown of Illinois, Max Bullough of Michigan State and Trent Murphy of Stanford.
Semi-finalists will be named October 28, finalists November 26, and winners will be notified on or before December 10.
2012 Butkus Award winners included Von Miller of the Denver Broncos (pro), Manti Te’o from Notre Dame (college) and Jaylon Smith of Bishop Luers in Fort Wayne, Ind. (high school).