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Gronkowski on Early National Radar
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 03/02/2009
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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March 2, 2009

HOUSTON--University of Arizona junior tight end Rob Gronkowski has been named to the preliminary watch list for the 2009 Rotary Lombardi Award.

Gronkowski is among 48 players named to the list for the honor, won by Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo last season.

Three semi-finalists returning to this year's list are South Florida defensive lineman George Selvie, Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes and Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon.

Eligibility for the Rotary Lombardi Award is limited to down linemen and those defensive players who line up within five yards of the football. The candidates earned a place on the preliminary watch list by earning All-American honors or by being named to their respective all-conference first team as selected by the conference's head coaches.

The Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List will be updated prior to the start of the 2009 season in order to identify those players who have been selected as pre-season honors candidates.

Gronkowski has 75 career receptions and last year posted 43 for 672 yards and 10 scores in earning third-team AP All-America honors and the first-team All-Pac-10 award. He holds Arizona single-game, single-season and career records for tight ends in catches, yards and touchdowns.

The Watch List highlights those players who have already received national recognition, although others may selected by the award committee during the season. Arizona coaches feel senior defensive tackle Earl Mitchell and junior defensive end Brooks Reed may earn their way into honors contention in 2009, with UA anticipating a strong defensive front that should be 10 deep across the four positions.

The Lombardi Award committee is comprised of more than 500 members, including all past winners and finalists, all Division 1-A head coaches and a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters.

The complete Rotary Lombardi Award Preliminary Watch List for 2009 follows:

Kevin Basped, DL, Nevada
Zane Beadles, OL, Utah
Nick Bellore, LB, Central Michigan
Navorro Bowman, LB, Penn State
Brad Bustle, OL, University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Nate Byham, TE, Pittsburgh
Alex Carrington, DE, Arkansas State
Brandon Carter, OL, Texas Tech
Ter rence Cody, DL, Alabama
Antonio Coleman, DE, Auburn
Jared Cook, TE, South Carolina
Rennie Curran, LB, Georgia
John Estes, OL, Hawaii
Chris Fisher, C, University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Arizona
Mark Herzlich, LB, Boston College
Rodney Hudson, OG, Florida State
Jerry Hughes, DE, TCU
Duke Ihenacho, LB, San Jose State
Cardia Jackson, LB, University of Louisiana at Monroe
Micah Johnson, LB, Kentucky
Arthur Jones, DT, Syracuse
Greg Jones, LB, Michigan State
Jan Jorgensen, DL, BYU
Sergio Kindle, LB, Texas
Brandon Lang, DE, Troy
Boris Lee, LB, Troy
Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama
Albert McClellan, DE, Marshall
Gerald McCoy, DL, Oklahoma
Eric Norwood, LB, South Carolina
Kristofer O'Dowd, C, USC
Jared Odrick, DT, Penn State
Russell Okung, OL, Oklahoma State
Joe Pawelek, LB, Baylor
Brian Price, DT, UCLA
Austin Pritchard, LB, Western Michigan
Adam Ulatoski, OT, Texas
George Selvie, DE, South Florida
Cameron Sheffield, DE, Troy
D'Anthony Smith, DL, Louisiana Tech
Brandon Spikes, LB, Florida
Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri
Trent Williams, OL, Oklahoma
C.J. Wilson, DE, East Carolina
Ryan Winterswyck, DL, Boise State
Corey Wootton, DE, Northwestern
Frank Zombo, DE, Central Michigan

The 40th Rotary Lombardi Award dinner will be held on Dec. 9 in Houston.

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