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.