Nov. 11, 2008
USC senior middle linebacker Rey Maualuga has been named one of four finalists for the Rotary Lombardi Award, presented to the nation's top collegiate lineman.
Also named as finalists were Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis, Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo and Alabama offensive lineman Andre Smith.
This year's winner will be announced at the Rotary Lombardi Award Dinner on Dec. 10 at the Hilton Americas Hotel in Houston. Former Houston Oiler quarterback Oliver Luck, president of Major League Soccer's Houston Dynamo, will be the event's featured speaker. The 39th Rotary Lombardi Award is presented by Wachovia.
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 I head coaches, all past finalists of the Rotary Lombardi Award, and a selection of writers and broadcasters from around the country.
Three-year starter Maualuga, a 2-time All-Pac-10 first teamer and the 2008 Rose Bowl Defensive MVP, currently leads USC with 57 tackles and he also has intercepted 2 passes (including a 48-yarder for a touchdown against Ohio State). He is also a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award (for the nation's top defensive player) and is a leading candidate for the Butkus Award (for the top linebacker). He has 251 career tackles.
He spearheads a USC defense that is ranked first nationally in total defense, scoring defense, pass defense and pass efficiency defense, while being third in rushing defense. The Trojans have allowed just 7 touchdowns in 2008 and 60 total points (only 13 in second halves), and have posted 3 shutouts. Eight of USC's 9 opponents in 2008 have been limited to 100 or less rushing yards and under 250 total yards.
Maualuga is looking to become USC's second Lombardi Award winner, joining Brad Budde (1979). USC has had 4 other finalists: nose guard George Achica in 1982, outside linebacker Jack Del Rio in 1984, defensive tackle Tim Ryan in 1989 and defensive tackle-end Shaun Cody in 2004.