HOUSTON – The Lombardi Award released its 2016 watch list Thursday, and three Seminole standouts are among the 158 candidates. Senior defensive end DeMarcus Walker is joined by a pair of juniors, offensive tackle Roderick Johnson and running Dalvin Cook.
Presented annually to the nation’s top player, the Rotary Lombardi Award winner will ‘exemplify the discipline, virtue and wisdom that defined Vincent Lombardi’s exceptional brand of leadership.’ Players were named to the watch list by earning All-America, all-conference, or preseason honors.
Walker was a revelation for the Seminole defense in 2015, finishing the season with 10.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss for a unit that allowed just over 17 points per game. In addition to his disruptive play in the offensive backfield, Walker forced four fumbles and broke up five passes. He intercepted the first pass of his career in December’s Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl against Houston, one game after he blocked a Florida field goal in the Swamp in FSU’s 27-2 win over the Gators.
Offensively, the Seminoles top running back and his lead blocker joined Walker on the watch list. Cook, arguably the country’s top back a year ago shattered the Florida State school records for rushing yards (1,691) and all-purpose yards (1,935) in 2015. He finished with 19 rushing touchdowns and added a receiving score, and had an incredible 7.4 yards per carry average which led all Power 5 Conference rushers.
Last season, Cook was tabbed the Jim Brown Award winner, given to the country’s top running back by the Touchdown Club of Columbus and garnered several All-America and All-ACC accolades. Cook enters 2016 with 2,699 career rushing yards, ranking fifth all-time in FSU history. He needs just 1,261 yards to become the leading rusher in Seminole history and his 107.96 career yards per game average is the best mark in ACC history.
Named the Jacobs Blocking Trophy winner in 2015 as the Atlantic Coast Conference’s top blocker, Johnson helped pave the way for Cook’s record-breaking 2015 campaign. The Seminole offense averaged 31.7 points and 424.0 total yards per game last season, while Johnson was the Seminoles’ highest-rated offensive lineman in five games. He was the ACC’s Offensive Lineman of the Week after Cook’s 266-yard performance against USF on Sept. 12.
The 47th Annual Lombardi Award will be announced following the 2016 season.