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November 10, 2004HOUSTON, Texas - University of Texas senior LB Derrick Johnson (Waco, Texas/Waco HS) has been named as one of four finalists for the 35th Rotary Lombardi Award. Johnson is seeking to join DT Kenneth Sims (1981) and DT
Tony Degrate (1984) as Longhorn Lombardi Award winners. He is the ninth Longhorn player to be named a finalist, joining DE Cory Redding (2002), OT Doug Dawson (1983), DT Steve McMichael (1979), DT Brad Shearer (1977), C Bill Wyman (1973) and OT Jerry Sisemore (1972) as well as winners Sims and
DE Shaun Cody (USC), DE Erasmus James (Wisconsin) and DE David Pollack (Georgia) join Johnson as the 2004 Lombardi Award finalists. It marks the first time since 1990 that an entire class of Lombardi finalists has been made up of seniors. This year's winner will be announced at the Rotary Lombardi Award Dinner on December 8 at the Hilton Americas Hotel. All four finalists will be on hand for the announcement.
The four finalists were selected from a group of 12 semifinalists in a second round of national voting by the members of the Rotary Lombardi Award Selection Committee. That committee is comprised of nearly 500 voters,
including all Division 1 head coaches, all past finalists of the Rotary Lombardi Award and a selection of writers and broadcasters from around the country.
Johnson, also a semifinalist for the 2004 Butkus (nation's top linebacker) and Bednarik (nation? top defensive player) awards, leads Texas with 107 tackles this season and ranks third on the school's all-time tackle chart (435). The 2003 consensus first-team All-American and two-time first-team
All-Big 12 pick has posted 14 tackles for loss, nine QB pressures, one interception and a UT single-season record eight caused fumbles (T-No. 1 on the NCAA all-time single-season list) and earned Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors three times this season. He is tied for first on the UT all-time TFL lists (60) and has posted nine career interceptions, a Longhorn
record for LBs. His 25 career PBUs are a UT record for LBs while his 270 solo stops (No. 4 on the UT all-time list) and 10 fumble recoveries (T-No. 5 on the UT career chart) rank among UT's all-time top five.
Pollack is the 15th player to earn a second trip to Houston as a Rotary Lombardi Award finalist. Of the previous 14, nine have returned to win the honor, including Tommie Harris of Oklahoma last year. The Bulldogs career leader in sacks, Pollack leads the club with 7.5 this season, to go along
with 30 quarterback hurries. He needs just one additional sack to pass Reggie White and move into fifth place on the SEC career chart. He will be looking to become the first winner ever from Georgia and the first from the SEC since Tracy Rocker in 1988.
Cody splits time between defensive tackle and defensive end for the top-ranked Trojans. He leads the team with seven sacks, one more than he had last season while anchoring USC's defensive front. He is the first finalist from USC since Tim Ryan in 1989 and is looking to become the second winner produced by the Trojans, joining Brad Budde (1979).
James made a strong move to become a Rotary Lombardi finalist after sitting out last season with an injury. He leads the Big Ten with seven sacks this season, despite missing nearly two full games with an ankle injury. Ten of his 27 tackles this season have resulted in a loss. He is the first Badger
finalist since Aaron Gibson in 1998 and is looking to become the first Big Ten winner since Orlando Pace one the award in 1995 and 1996.