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Lombardi Award Watch List Highlighted by Four Rebels

HottyToddy.com file photo
HottyToddy.com file photo

Four Rebels found themselves on the watch list for the 47th annual Rotary Lombardi Award, announced by the award’s committee Thursday afternoon (August 25). Tight end Evan Engram, defensive end Marquis Haynes, defensive tackle D.J. Jones and quarterback Chad Kelly all made the preliminary watch list for Ole Miss.

The starting list of 158 candidates are players who demonstrate outstanding performance and skill in offensive or defensive positions and best exemplify the discipline, virtue and wisdom that defined Vincent Lombardi’s exceptional brand of leadership.  The players gained a position on the preliminary watch list by earning All-American honors, being named to their respective all-conference teams, or by receiving 2016 preseason honors.

The Rotary Lombardi Award began in 1970 by the Rotary Club of Houston to honor NFL coach Vince Lombardi and to recognize outstanding college football lineman. The award began as recognition to only interior line positions that Vince Lombardi played while an undergraduate at Fordham University (offensive and defensive guard), and later expanded to include linebackers and tight ends, with the addition of including non-performance values: leadership, courage, desire, respect for authority, and discipline.

The 47th Annual Rotary Lombardi Award continues the evolvement of the Lombardi legacy by now expanding the eligibility of the award to all player positions that are outstanding performers and exhibit great leadership attributes. Following the preliminary watch list, a nomination period will open to the internal selection committee to add additional players who meet the skill and leadership standards set forth for the Rotary Lombardi Award.

As a preseason All-SEC second-team honoree this season and a team captain last year, Engram earned a spot on the Lombardi Award Watch List. The senior Rebel already holds the Ole Miss all-time records for receptions (97) and receiving yards (1,394) by a tight end, while ranking fifth with seven career touchdown catches at the position. Engram saw action in 34 games during his first three seasons, including all 26 of the team’s games over the past two years. Last season, the Powder Springs, Georgia, native remained a major threat in the Ole Miss passing game, while also improving his blocking skills. He hauled in 38 receptions, tying for second on the team, for 464 yards and two touchdowns.

In just two seasons on campus, Haynes already ranks tied for fourth in the Ole Miss record book with 17.5 sacks. The defensive end made 10 sacks as a sophomore, cracking the top five in the conference and ranking 19th nationally. He recorded 7.0 sacks against SEC opponents, which tied for second-most in the league. Along with his sack total, Haynes racked up 16.5 tackles for loss and finished the season with 43 tackles. Three times throughout 2015, the Jacksonville, Florida, native collected SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week accolades before earning second team All-SEC honors at the end of the regular season.

After playing in every game last year, Jones will be another leader of the Landshark defense in 2016, his senior season. The defensive tackle tallied 40 tackles in 2015, adding 5.5 tackles for loss. His 4.0 sacks were the second-most on the team behind Haynes’ double-digit total. The Greenville, South Carolina, native earned the Jeff Hamm Memorial Award as the Rebels’ most improved defensive player during the spring. Jones will look to be a force at nose tackle in his final season as a Rebel.

In his first season as the Ole Miss signal-caller, Kelly led the Rebels to a 10-win season that was capped off by a win in the 2016 Allstate Sugar Bowl. The Buffalo, New York, native shattered 14 single-season school records a year ago, including total offense (4,542 yards), completion percentage (65.1), passing efficiency (155.9), 300-yard passing games (8) and touchdowns responsible for (41). His offensive output was the third-highest in SEC history, behind only the 2012 and 2013 seasons by Johnny Manziel. He completed 298 passes for 4,042 yards and 31 touchdowns, all program bests, to become the third SEC quarterback to throw for more than 4,000 yards in one season. Entering his senior season, Kelly was named to the preseason All-SEC first team by the conference’s coaches.

The 2016 Ole Miss football season is just 11 days away as the Rebels will battle No. 4 Florida State in the Camping World Kickoff (September 5) from Orlando, Florida. The matchup will be the only game on Labor Day and is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. CT on ESPN.

Follow Ole Miss Football on Twitter (@OleMissFB), Facebook and Instagram in addition to www.OleMissSports.com.

Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports

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Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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