’Tis the season; the season for college football individual awards. With Alabama ranked second in the nation and possibly headed to the national championship game, Bama football players and coaches are in line for a lot of them. One of the Crimson Tide’s best players is a candidate for various defensive awards, and no wonder considering he is the leader of the nation’s best defense.
Alabama leads the nation in every major defensive statistical category, including the obvious critical ones of total defense and scoring defense. It is fitting that Bama junior linebacker Dont'a Hightower is mentioned for many defensive honors, including recently being named as one of four finalists for the Lott Trophy, presented by The Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation. He is the “quarterback” of that defense which leads the nation in scoring defense (8.8 points per game), total defense (191.3 yards per game), rush defense (74.9 ypg), pass defense (116.3 ypg) and pass efficiency defense (83.9).
Hightower, a native of Lewisburg, Tenn., leads the Crimson Tide with a career-best 81 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss (-35 yards), 3.0 sacks (-16 yards), one interception (29 yards), three pass breakups, and eight quarterback pressures.
Hightower is Alabama’s third finalist, joining DeMeco Ryans, who won the award in 2005, and 2009 finalist Rolando McClain. Past winners are David Pollack (2004, Georgia), Ryans (2005), Dante Hughes (2006, California), Glenn Dorsey (2007, LSU), James Laurinaitis (2008, Ohio State), Jerry Hughes (2009, TCU) and J.J. Watt (2010, Wisconsin).
The other finalists this year are Emmanuel Acho of Texas, Luke Kuechly of Boston College and Manti Te’o of Notre Dame.
Named after Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott, the Lott Trophy is awarded to college football’s Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year. Now in its eighth year, the Lott Trophy is the first college football award to equally recognize athletic performance and the personal character attributes of the player.
The annual Lott Trophy Banquet will be held Dec. 11, at The Pacific Club in Newport Beach, Calif., where the winner will be announced. The banquet will be televised live on Fox Sports West with ABC broadcaster Brent Musburger handling the keynote address.
“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.”
Sponsored by The Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation in Newport Beach, the award is given to the player who exhibits the same characteristics Lott embodied during his distinguished career: Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity.
The IMPACT Foundation will award $25,000 to the general scholarship fund of the winner’s university with each of the runner-up’s school receiving $5,000.