July 16, 2012
Rice senior tight end Luke Willson has named to the watch list for the 43rd Rotary Lombardi Award. The Rotary Club of Houston annually presents the award.
While the award is better known as an award for linemen and linebackers, tight ends have always been eligible for the honor and two (Ken McAffee of Notre Dame and Keith Jackson of Oklahoma) have been named as finalists.
Willson has also named to the watch list for the John Mackey Award, which is presented to the top tight end in college football and to College Football Performance Awards Tight End Trophy Watch List.
Last season he was a second-team All C-USA selection by Phil Steele after finishing second on the team with 313 receiving yards and three touchdowns. He was tabbed by Steele as a preseason All C-USA pick this year and was also named to Dave Campbell's Texas Football's All Texas College preseason team. He spent the first part of this summer participating in the Toronto Blue Jays extended spring training camp after signing with the club as a non-drafted free agent last August. While he was with the Blue Jays, he was drafted by the Toronto Argos in the fourth round of the CFL Draft.
Eligibility for the Rotary Lombardi Award is limited to: 1) offensive or defensive end-to-end down linemen who set up no farther than 10 yards to the left or right of the ball and 2) linebackers who set up no farther than five yards deep from the line of scrimmage. All candidates must be eligible to play college sports under the rules and regulations of the NCAA.
The candidates earned a place on the Official Watch List by: earning All-American honors last season; being named last season to their respective all-conference first team as determined by the conference's head coaches; being projected to be an All-American or first team all-conference player for the coming season; or by nomination approved by the nominations committee.
While the Watch List highlights those players who have already received national recognition, any Division IA player who meets the above requirements is eligible for consideration from the Rotary Lombardi Award Selection Committee. The committee is comprised of more than 500 members, including all past winners and finalists, all Division IA head coaches, and a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters.
The Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List is a reference tool for the Selection Committee. It will be periodically revised until the first round of voting is completed. The first round of voting determines the Top 25 Quarter finalists for 2012. The second round of voting will determine the final 7 semi-finalists or "Seven Blocks of Granite". The third round of voting will determine the "four- finalists from the "Seven Blocks of Granite". The fourth and final round of voting will determine the winner of The 43rd Rotary Lombardi Award which will be announced on national television live in "prime-time" 8-9 PM (CST) Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at The Hobby Center in Houston, TX (network to be determined).
Last year's 2011 Rotary Lombardi Award winner, Luke Kuechly (LB-Boston College) was drafted by the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League (NFL). He was selected by the Panthers with the 9th overall pick of the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft.