(July 16, 2012) -- Texas Longhorns senior DE Alex Okafor, junior DE Jackson Jeffcoat, junior LB Jordan Hicks and junior OG Mason Walters were named to the 2012 Lombardi Award watch list the Rotary Lombardi Award Committee announced today. The Lombardi is awarded each year to the nation's college lineman or linebacker of the year.
Eligibility for the Rotary Lombardi Award is limited to down linemen, end-to-end, either on offense or defense, who set up no farther than 10 yards to the left or right of the ball, and linebackers who set up no farther than five yards deep from the line of scrimmage.
Texas boasts three prior winners of the Lombardi Trophy with the most recent being DE Brian Orakpo in 2008. Defensive lineman Tony DeGrate took home the trophy in 1984 and DL Kenneth Sims was the 1981 recipient. UT also has had four other finalists for the Lombardi; OL Justin Blalock (2006), DT Rodrique Wright (2005), LB Derrick Johnson (2004) and DE Cory Redding (2002), and two other semifinalists; OT Leonard Davis (2000) and DT Casey Hampton (2000).
Okafor is a three-year letterman who has appeared in 39 games on the defensive line, including 21 starts. He was a 2011 AFCA FBS Coaches' All-American and a unanimous first team All-Big 12 selection (Coaches). Also in 2011, he was named first team All-Big 12 (AP, Kansas City Star, Fort Worth Star-Telegram) and was on the 2011 Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award watch list. Okafor transitioned back to full-time defensive end from defensive tackle in spring 2011 and has registered 110 tackles (49 solo), 9.5 sacks, 20 TFL, 36 pressures, four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery for his career. Last season he started all 13 games, posting 58 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, seven sacks, three pass breakups, 17 pressures, two caused fumbles and one fumble recovery. He is a two-time member of UT's Athletics Director's Honor Roll (Spring 2010/Fall 2010).
Jeffcoat is a third-year defensive lineman who has appeared in 21 games with 15 starts. He was a 2011 second team All-Big 12 selection (Coaches, AP, Kansas City Star, San Antonio Express-News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram). Jackson has 86 tackles (43 solo), 27 TFL, 10.5 sacks, four PBU, one fumble recovery and 16 pressures for his career. He tallied 71 tackles, 21 TFL, eight sacks, nine pressures and three pass breakups in 2011. He was named honorable mention Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2010 when he posted 15 tackles (eight solo), six TFL, 2.5 sacks, one PBU, one fumble recovery and seven pressures.
This preseason, Okafor and Jeffcoat have also been named to the Bednarik Award watch list (college defensive player of the year), the Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list (most outstanding defensive player) and the College Football Performance Awards Defensive Awards watch list.
Hicks approaches his junior season as a linebacker who has appeared in 25 games on defense and special teams. He has 88 tackles, five TFL, two sacks, four PBUs, one fumble recovery and two pressures for his career. He appeared in 13 games with eight starts in 2011 while recording 65 tackles, four tackles for loss, one sack, one fumble recovery, four pass breakups and one pressure.
Hicks was named honorable mention Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2010. He won the high school Butkus Award, given to the nation's top high school linebacker in 2009. He was named a prep All-American, two-time first-team all-state and all-county and all-district at linebacker. He was a three-year starter in high school who was named to PARADE's All-America High School Football Team, named PARADE's top linebacker in the nation, first-team All-USA honors by USA Today, an EA SPORTS All-American first-team selection and Gatorade's Ohio high school football Player of the Year. Hicks was named to the 2011 Academic All-Big 12 first team and is a two-time member of UT's Athletics Director's Honor Roll (Fall 2010/Spring 2011).
Walters is a third-year offensive lineman who has started all 25 games at right guard for his career. He was named 2011 second team All-Big 12 (San Antonio Express-News) and honorable mention (Coaches). Walters started all 13 games at right guard in 2011 and started all 12 games at right guard in 2010. The junior from Wolfforth, Texas, appeared in one game at tackle and on special teams in 2009 before missing the remainder of the season due to a foot injury and redshirting. He enrolled in January '09 to take part in spring drills and was a prep All-American who was ranked as the nation's top center by ESPNU and the nation's second-best offensive tackle by Rivals. He earned eight letters in three sports as a prepster.
Walters is also on the 2012 Outland Trophy watch list.
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.