Nov. 29, 2011
The honors keep rolling in for Boston College junior linebacker Luke Kuechly, who was named one of four finalists for the Lott IMPACT Trophy. Kuechly joins Emmanuel Acho (Texas), Dont'a Hightower (Alabama) and Manti Te'o of Notre Dame.
The award, named after former USC great Ronnie Lott, goes to the defensive player who has had the biggest IMPACT on his team, both on and off the field. The IMPACT acronym is Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity. It will be presented December 11 by the Pacific Club in Newport Beach, Calif. Hall of Fame broadcaster Brent Musburger will be the keynote speaker.
"These are outstanding football players, who represent their universities with distinction and honor," said Ronnie Lott. "They are terrific players who also excel off the field with their character, integrity and hard work in the classroom. I'm excited to meet them at our awards banquet."
The IMPACT Foundation will award $25,000 to the general scholarship fund of the winner's university with each of the runnerups' school receiving $5,000.
Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Dakota Meyer will receive an honorary Lott Trophy that night. BC linebacker Mark Herzlich received an honorary Lott Trophy two years ago.
The banquet will be televised live on FOX Sports, starting at 6 p.m. PST.
A look at the four finalists:
Emmanual Acho, senior linebacker, Texas: Lott Player of the Week, Week 10; Was named All Big-12, mid-season...Leads Longhorns with 116 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, 14 quarterback hurries and two sacks...Had 87 tackles last year when he was second team All Big-12...Six-time honor student at Texas, two-time Academic All Big-12...Carries a 3.4 GPA...On both American Football Coaches Assn Good Works team and Lowe's Senior Class Team...Finalist for Campbell Trophy...Brother Sam was a Lott finalist in 2010...Goes on medical missions to Nigeria with his family each summer...Mentored children at local Boys and Girls Club...Visits Dell Children's Medical Center...Raises money for research for local Alzheimer's Foundation. Manny Diaz, Defensive Coordinator, Texas: "Emmanuel excels on the field, but he's an even better person off the field. As a parent, you'd want your kids to be like Emmanuel."
Dont'a Hightower, junior linebacker, Alabama: Leading tackler on No. 1 defense in the country with 91 tackles...Has 9.5 tackles for loss, 8 quarterback hurries, 3 sacks and a blocked kick...Mid-season All-American and CBS mid-season All-American...Lott Player of the Week in Week 8....Butkus and Lombardi finalist...Alabama defense No. 1 in the country...Only team holding opponents to under 200 yards per game... Will graduate in December...Pen pal with third grader at an elementary school in Tuscaloosa. Wrote one 8-year-old to Hightower: "You are nice because you try not to hurt them." Jill Lancaster, Director of Life Skills and Community Outreach, Alabama: "Dont'a has gone on many clean-up efforts immediately after the April 27th tornado. He's also gone to schools numerous times to participate in Read Across American and Red Ribbon Week."
Luke Kuechly, junior linebacker, Boston College: Led country in tackles (191) for second straight year...Two-time winner of the Lott Player of the Week...Had 10 or more tackles in 32 consecutive games...Led team with 11 tackles for loss...Has three interceptions on season, including 45-yard touchdown return against Miami...Finalist for Butkus, Lombardi and Nagurski awards...Named on four mid-season All-American teams (ESPN, CBS, Sporting News, Phil Steele)...Led the nation in tackles with 183 last season...Consensus All-American...Finalist for both the Butkus and Nagurski awards last year...Rated No. 1 linebacker...He is an officer on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee for the second straight year. He has participated in the HEAR (Help Educate through Athletic Responsibility) Program, which involves him visiting local schools and sharing experiences as student-athletes...Boston College Dean Andrew Boynton: ""I have been a university professor for over fifteen years and a dean at Boston College for six and Luke is the most impressive student-athlete I have met. He has a very, very high standard for himself in all areas. What strikes me, and everyone, about Luke are his values, maturity, integrity and modesty."
Manti Te'o, junior linebacker, Notre Dame: Mid-season All-American...His 111 tackles are among the most in NCAA...Butkus Award finalist, Nagurski Watch List...Has 12 tackles for losses, 4.5 sacks and 4 quarterback hurries this year...Led Irish with 133 tackles (most by an Irish player in 27 years) and 16 tackles for losses last season...Was named Sporting News High School Athlete of the Year (first Hawaiian and first Polynesian to receive that honor)...Second team All-American last season...Named Lott Player of the Week in Week 12...Carries a cumulative grade point average of 3.35. Prep honor student. Volunteers at South Bend Center for the Homeless, interacting with local youths by playing games, reading books and being a positive role model. Oldest of seven children and is an Eagle Scout.
Previous winners of the Lott IMPACT Trophy:
2004 - David Pollack, Georgia
2005 - DeMeco Ryans, Alabama
2006 - Dante Hughes, Cal
2007 - Glenn Dorsey, LSU
2008 - James Laurinaitis, Ohio State
2009 - Jerry Hughes, TCU
2010 - J.J. Watt, Wisconsin