Nov. 12, 2008
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – University of Alabama left tackle Andre Smith is one of four finalists for the 39th Rotary Lombardi Award, which goes to the nation’s top lineman, the Rotary Club of Houston announced on Wednesday.
The junior from Birmingham, Ala., anchors a powerful offensive line that has been a key to the Crimson Tide’s success in 2008. Smith has surrendered just one sack all season and only seven in his 36-game Alabama career. Smith has also helped clear the way for 198.6 rushing yards per game this season, which ranks 23rd nationally.
“First I have to give all of the glory to God through who I get all of my ability,” Smith said. “It is a great honor to be named a finalist for the Lombardi Award. It really shows that the hard work that me and my teammates did during the spring and summer has paid off. I am really excited, but this team has a lot of hard work left to accomplish its goals.”
Smith is the only junior and the only offensive player selected as a finalist. Joining Smith on the list of finalists is Ohio State linebacker Ray Laurinaitis, Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo and USC linebacker Rey Maualuga.
Smith is the sixth Crimson Tide player to be named a finalist for the Rotary Lombardi Award and the first since Demeco Ryans in 2005. Cornelius Bennett is the only Alabama player to win the Lombardi Award, capturing the honor in 1986.
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.
The Award will be presented on December 10 at the Hilton Americas Hotel in downtown Houston. Houston Dynamo President and former Houston Oiler, Oliver Luck, will be the featured speaker at the event.
Founded in the weeks following the 1970 death from cancer of legendary football coach Vince Lombardi, the Rotary Lombardi Award has consistently delivered upon the mission set forth by Marie Lombardi when she granted the use of her late husband’s name. Her only stipulation was that all net proceeds from the event be donated to the American Cancer Society. Millions of dollars have been raised since that time.