2015 Preseason Award Projections: Lott IMPACT Trophy

By Charlie Campbell
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The Lott IMPACT Trophy is given to the top Defensive Impact Player of the Year in college football. Last year’s winner was UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks.

Lott IMPACT Trophy Winner:

Scooby Wright, Arizona

The Lott IMPACT Trophy has a big inclination toward linebackers. A linebacker has won the award for four straight years and five out of the last seven. The last time a non-linebacker won the award was J.J. Watt in 2010. Over 10 years, only three times has the trophy gone to a non-linebacker. Plus, the Lott IMPACT Trophy has gone to a UCLA linebacker the last two seasons (Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks). I think selection committee will prefer to hand out the trophy to a player from another school, thus UCLA linebacker Myles Jack isn’t my pick to make it 3 years in a row for the Bruins. With that in mind, Wright seems like a great prospect for the Lott IMPACT Trophy.

After a strong freshman season (83 tackles, 9 sacks), Wright was an animal last year for Arizona. He dominated the competition and had tremendous production with 14 sacks, 163 tackles (99 solo), 29 tackles for a loss and six forced fumbles. It could be hard for Wright to match his totals this year with offenses scheming to limit him, but he has the instincts and talent to still produce a lot and bring in some postseason hardware like the out Lott IMPACT Trophy.

Lott IMPACT Trophy Runner-Up:

Eric Striker, Oklahoma

Big things were expected from Striker in 2014, and he produced 68 tackles with 17 tackles for a loss, nine sacks and five passes broken up on the year. In 2013, Striker broke out as one of the top defenders in the Big XII with a total of 50 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 10.5 tackles for a loss and a forced fumble. The year-over-year jump in production was impressive as well because Striker dropped into coverage more often and didn’t exclusively rush the passer like past years.

The 6-foot, 220-pounder is lightning off the edge and has a real speed advantage over offensive tackles. Playing in college football’s version of the Arena league, the Big XII, Striker should produce a big sack total as a senior as Oklahoma will have to replace edge-rushing linebacker Geno Grissom. Moving into double digits seems very possible for Striker. The Seffner, Florida product could be poised for a big senior year, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he won the Lott IMPACT Trophy.

Lott IMPACT Trophy Dark Horse:

Myles Jack, UCLA

Jack is a dark horse just because the award has gone to UCLA the past two years and I doubt that the committee/voters will want to make it three in a row. Certainly, Jack has the talent and potential to put together a huge season and win the Lott IMPACT Trophy.

Jack was a freshman phenom for UCLA in 2013 who 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. Jack’s 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.

There wasn’t a sophomore slump for Jack either. He racked up 87 tackles with eight tackles for a loss, seven passes broken up, one interception and one forced fumble in 2014. His natural pass-coverage skills are extremely impressive.

Honorable Mentions: Ohio State DE Joey Bosa, Ohio State DT Adolphus Washington, Michigan State DE Shilique Calhoun, Nebraska DT Maliek Collins, Alabama DT A’Shawn Robinson, Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett, Baylor DE Shawn Oakman, Oregon DE DeForest Buckner, Oklahoma State DE Emmanuel Ogbah, Louisville DE Devonte Fields, Ole Miss DL Robert Nkemdiche, Mississippi State DT Chris Jones, 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.

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