Houston, Texas - Vanderbilt rising senior linebacker Moses Osemwegie has been named to the preseason watchlist for the prestigious Rotary Lombardi Award, officials of the presiding organization announced this week.
Osemwegie, a native of Nashville, Tenn., who prepped at Montgomery Bell Academy near the Vanderbilt campus, is one of 15 linebackers among the watchlist of 54 collegiate standouts named to the Lombardi Award watchlist.
Osemwegie's inclusion is the second consecutive year that the Lombardi Award steering committee has added a Vanderbilt defender. In 2004, Commodore defensive end Jovan Haye was included in the watchlist.
Annually, the Rotary Lombardi Award is presented to the nation's interior lineman, tight end or linebacker. Last year, the 35th Lombardi recipient was Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year David Pollack of Georgia.
Vanderbilt Head Coach Bobby Johnson was pleased to hear of Osemwegie's inclusion.
"Moses is a very deserving candidate to this award and I expect Moses to be a candidate for several other honors as his senior year approaches," Johnson said. "On the field, Moses is a playmaker, and makes a tremendous amount of things happen defensively. Off the field, he is a outstanding student-athlete, just a great representative for Vanderbilt University."
Since 2003, Osemwegie has topped the Commodores in numerous defensive statistical categories as a starting outside linebacker.
Last year, he earned first team All-SEC honors in ballots by the league's coaches and Associated Press writers by ranking among the conference's leading regular season tacklers. He averaged 9.4 tackles each game, netting at least 10 tackles in seven outings. He topped the Commodores with 64 solo tackles and six tackles for loss. In 2003, Osemwegie was the SEC leader in unassisted and total tackles.
Osemwegie enters his final year as one of the SEC's leading active defenders. In his three-year Vanderbilt career, Osemwegie has contributed 273 tackles and 21 tackles for loss.
Osemwegie is one of six SEC players included in the list of preseason Lombardi Award candidate, joining Auburn linebacker Travis Williams, Georgia tight end Leonard Pope and offensive lineman Max Jean Gilles, LSU offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth and Tennessee defensive tackle Jesse Mahelona.
The Commodores, in their fourth year under Johnson, will open the 2005 season against ACC foe Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, N.C., on Thursday, Sept. 1. Vanderbilt hosts Ole Miss, Richmond, Middle Tennessee, Georgia, LSU and Kentucky on campus in Nashville.