A lot of guys make the Rotary Lombardi Award watch list, and that's because the award's criteria is extremely specific yet extremely inclusive at the same time.
Here it is:
"Eligibility for the Rotary Lombardi Award is limited to down linemen, end-to-end, either on offense or defense, who set up no farther than 10 yards to the left or right of the ball, or linebackers who set up no farther than five yards deep from the line of scrimmage."
Well, that makes a lot of guys eligible, and that's why there are 145 names on the list, which was released Tuesday.
There are 13 Big Ten names scattered across the six pages of college football players:
— Mason Monheim, LB, Illinois
— Dan Feeney, OG, Indiana
— Jack Allen, C, Michigan State
— Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State
— Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
— Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
— Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
— Pat Elflein, OG, Ohio State
— Adolphus Washington, DT, Ohio State
— Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
— Anthony Zettel, DT, Penn State
— Steve Longa, LB, Rutgers
— Vince Biegel, LB, Wisconsin
One of those, you'll notice, is Illinois' Mason Monheim. Monheim ranks second among all active FBS players in career tackles, a pretty cool stat. Last season, he recorded a team-leading 111 tackles, as well as 6.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions, a sack and four forced fumbles.
The Lombardi Award has gone to a defensive player every year since 1996, when Ohio State offensive lineman Orlando Pace won the second of his consecutive Lombardi Awards. A Big Ten player has earned the honor twice since Pace's back-to-back wins: Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk in 2005 and Michigan linebacker LaMarr Woodley in 2006. Two pre-Big Ten Nebraska players have also won since Pace's repeat: defensive linemen Grant Wistrom and Ndamukong Suh in 1997 and 2009, respectively.