HOUSTON -- Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk won the Rotary
Lombardi Award as the nation's top college lineman or linebacker
Wednesday night, becoming the fifth Buckeye to receive the honor.
The other three finalists were Louisville defensive end Elvis Dumervil, Penn State linebacker Paul Posluszny and Texas defensive
tackle Rod Wright.
"Anyone who's up for any kind of award, it's a reflection of
the team and the guys around them," said Hawk, Ohio State's
leading tackler for three straight seasons. "A lot of people don't
realize how much the other 10 guys out there help."
About 250 coaches, former finalists and media members voted for
the award, given annually by the Houston Rotary Club. Chuck Poole,
the event's public relations director, said the club does not
release a breakdown of the votes.
Hawk is the first Buckeye to win since Orlando Pace won for the
second time in 1996. Jim Stillwagon (1970), John Hicks (1973) and
Chris Spielman (1987) also won the award for Ohio State.
The 6-foot-1, 240-pound Hawk was also named the Big Ten
Defensive Player of the Year this year by a panel of coaches and
media. He's also in the running for the Walter Camp (player of the
year), Bednarik (best defensive player) and Butkus (best
The Lombardi Award was initiated by Houston's rotary club in
1970, shortly after its Hall of Fame namesake -- Vince Lombardi --
died of cancer.
The design of the 40-pound trophy -- a block of granite mounted
on a steel base -- is a nod to Lombardi's college playing days.
Before guiding the Green Bay Packers to victories in the first two
Super Bowls, Lombardi was an offensive guard at Fordham in the
1930s, part of a unit nicknamed the "Seven Blocks of Granite."
Hawk was a little surprised to win. He couldn't pinpoint one
performance where he felt like he did everything right.
"It's tough to pick a best game because some games I made some
big plays, but then missed a couple of tackles and didn't execute,
and then other times, I didn't make big plays but felt like I did
execute," he said. "Each game, there are always a couple of
things I didn't like that I did."
Still, he did enough.
The senior led Ohio State this season with 109 tackles and 13
behind the line. He ranks fifth on the school's all-time tackles
list with 382 heading into Ohio State's Tostitos Fiesta Bowl matchup with
He also led a defense that was the nation's best against the
run, giving up only 74.5 yards per game. The Buckeyes also led the
Big Ten in scoring, passing and total defense.
Hawk won the award in Wright's hometown.
The 6-5, 315-pound Wright starred at Alief Hastings High School
and had his mother, father and sister in the audience.
Wright said the second-ranked Longhorns have already started
studying No. 1 USC, the team they'll play for the national
championship in the Rose Bowl.
The 6-foot, 256-pound Dumervil leads the nation with 20 sacks.
The senior also set an NCAA record with 10 forced fumbles, broke up
four passes and intercepted a pass.
The 6-2, 229-pound Posluszny ranked fourth in the Big Ten with
111 tackles. He was the only junior among the finalists.
None of the four coaches attended the ceremony.