2015 Preseason Award Projections: Lombardi Award

By Charlie Campbell
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Heading into the 2015 college football season, WalterFootball.com will debut our projections for the nation’s leaders during the fall. The All-American teams always have some surprises, and the next fall’s stars could be the headline players next May for the 2016 NFL Draft. We also will project the winners of the postseason awards that are given out to the best of college football.

The Lombardi Award is given to the top offensive linemen, defensive linemen, tight end or linebacker in college football. Last year’s winner was Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright. Our prediction of Randy Gregory didn’t make the finalists, but our runner-up Vic Beasley and dark-horse choice of Joey Bosa were both finalists.

Lombardi Award Winner:

Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State

The Lombardi Award has a wide range of eligible players, but it hasn’t gone to an offensive player since Orlando Pace in 1996. Pace was also the last player to win the award in back-to-back seasons. Thus, I don’t think Scooby Wright is likely to repeat. The Lombardi Award has been inclined to go toward defensive tackles and linebackers more than ends, but I think the voters will be looking hard at Bosa, considering he easily could have been the award committee’s choice last year.

As a freshman, Bosa was an honorable mention Big Ten performer. He racked up 44 tackles with 13.5 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks and one forced fumble. 2014 saw Bosa flat out dominate the Big Ten, and he finished the year by playing well in the playoffs. Bosa recorded 55 tackles with 13.5 sacks, 21 tackles for a loss, four forced fumbles and pass defended last season. He simply lived in opponents’ backfields. The 6-foot-5, 285-pounder has quickness to go with natural strength.

Don’t be surprised if Bosa has a massive 2015 season even though teams will be selling out to stop him, and he will see steady double-teams. Bosa is just that much better than the competition. His numbers may fall short of last year’s totals, but I think he will get close enough and reach double-digit sacks to bring home a lot of postseason hardware.

Lombardi Runner-Up:

Myles Jack, OLB, UCLA

The athletic freak Jack is definitely capable of putting together a huge statistical season to win the Lombardi Triophy. As a sophomore, Jack racked up 87 tackles with eight tackles for a loss, seven passes broken up, one interception and one forced fumble in 2014. With linebacker Erik Kendricks and defensive end Owa Odighizuwa in the NFL, Jack could easily put up much larger tackle and sack totals as a junior.

Jack was a freshman superstar as he was named the Pac-12’s Offensive AND Defensive Freshman of the Year. On the defensive side of the ball, he had 75 tackles with 11 passes broken up and two interceptions. His pass-coverage skills for a freshman were outstanding. On offense, Jack played running back because of injuries. He ran for 267 yards on 38 carries (7.0 average) with seven touchdowns.

With a good coaching staff at UCLA running an advanced defense, Jack (6-1, 230) has the talent and scheme to run wild. He could put up a huge stat line as a junior with tackles, sacks, interceptions, passes batted and forced fumbles.

Lombardi Dark Horse:

Scooby Wright, LB, Arizona

Wright won the award last year and was a deserving winner. He put up an amazing stat line of 14 sacks with 163 tackles, 29 tackles for a loss and six forced fumbles. Wright also had a huge game against Oregon to help lead the Wildcats to an upset of the Ducks in their first meeting. He won’t take anyone by surprise this year and teams will be scheming to limit him. Thus, it could be hard for Wright to match his totals this year, plus the Lombardi Award has avoided rewarding the same player two years in a row.

Honorable Mentions: Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett, Baylor DE Shawn Oakman, Oregon DE DeForest Buckner, Oklahoma State DE Emmanuel Ogbah, Alabama DT A’Shawn Robinson, Ohio State DT Adolphus Washington, Michigan State DE Shilique Calhoun, Louisville DE Devonte Fields, Ole Miss DL Robert Nkemdiche, Mississippi State DT Chris Jones, Oklahoma OLB Eric Striker, Georgia OLB Leonard Floyd, Notre Dame ILB Jaylon Smith, Alabama ILB Reggie Ragland, Missouri ILB Kentrell Brothers, Auburn ILB Kris Frost and Tennessee DE Derek Barnett.

Ole Miss OT Laremy Tunsil, Notre Dame OT Ronnie Stanley, Baylor OT Spencer Drango, Texas Tech OT Le’Raven Clark, LSU G Vadal Alexander and Alabama OT Cam Robinson.

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