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RB James Conner, DB Jabrill Peppers & QBs Lamar Jackson & J.T. Barrett Head Lombardi Award Semifinalists:


James Conner, Jabrill Peppers & Lamar Jackson Head Lombardi Award Semifinalists:

Photo - RB James Conner - Pittsburgh

Pitt junior running back James Conner and senior defensive end Ejuan Price are two of the top 20 candidates for this year’s Lombardi Award, it was announced by the Rotary Club of Houston, Texas.

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Previously, the Lombardi Award was presented to the nation’s top lineman or linebacker. In 2016, eligibility was expanded to include all players, regardless of position, who demonstrate outstanding performance and best exemplify the discipline, virtue and wisdom that defined Vincent Lombardi's exceptional brand of leadership.

The top 20 candidates were selected by a vote of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) head coaches as well as college football media from across the country.

Conner has overcome both a knee injury and Hodgkin lymphoma during the past 12 months and continues to amaze fans in his comeback season. He leads the Panthers in rushing (844 yards on 175 carries) and scoring (92 points). His 15 total TDs rank ninth nationally and second among ACC players.

Conner is coming off his most impressive effort of the season in helping Pitt to a 43-42 upset at #2 Clemson this past Saturday. Facing a Tigers defense that was surrendering less than 16 points per game, he carried 20 times for 132 yards and a TD, while adding three receptions for 57 yards and another score.

Conner has compiled 51 touchdowns for his career, 2nd all-time in ACC annals. He needs just two TDs to eclipse the ACC mark of 52 held by Virginia's Wali Lundy (2002-05). Conner is also on the verge of breaking the ACC record for career rushing touchdowns. He has 48, one shy of the 38-year-old ACC record held by NC State's Ted Brown (49 from 1975-78).

Price is one of the most disruptive defensive linemen in college football. Despite being the constant target of double teams, Price ranks seventh nationally in tackles for loss (1.6 per game) and 12th in sacks (0.90 per game). He is 24th in forced fumbles (0.30 per game).

Nearly half of Price’s 33 tackles this season have been for a loss. He has compiled 16 TFLs, nine sacks, nine QB hurries and three forced fumbles on the year. He also has a tackle for a safety (at North Carolina).

Price was named a "Midseason All-American" by no fewer than five national media outlets including DraftInsiders.com. He was recently named a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, presented to the national defensive player of the year. Price is also a frontrunner for ACC Defensive Player of the Year.

2016 Lombardi Award Semifinalists:

Jonathan Allen - DE - Alabama
Reuben Foster - ILB - Alabama
Cam Robinson - OT - Alabama
Montravius Adams - DT - Auburn
Carl Lawson - DE - Auburn
Christian Wilkins - DT - Clemson
Deshaun Watson - QB - Clemson
Delvin Cook - RB - Florida State
DeMarcus Walker - DE - Florida State
Lamar Jackson - QB - Louisville
Jabrill Peppers - LB/DB - Michigan
J.T. Barrett - QB - Ohio State
Pat Elflein - C - Ohio State
Evan Engram - TE - Ole Miss
James Conner - RB - Pittsburgh
Ejuan Price - DL - Pittsburgh
Donnell Pumphrey - RB - San Diego State
Derek Barnett - DE - Tennessee
Myles Garrett - DE - Texas A&M
Jake Browning - QB - Washington

Net proceeds from the Rotary Lombardi Award activities are contributed to cancer research and children who cannot afford treatment to fight the disease that claimed the life of Vince Lombardi. The Rotary Lombardi Award is hosted by the Rotary Club of Houston and benefits the American Cancer Society, MD Anderson Cancer Center and the Texas Children's Hospital.

The award ceremony date will be announced later in the football season along with updated lists of award candidates. Visit www.rotarylombardiaward.org for more information and continued updates.

Frank Coyle is a long-time scout with nationwide ties with coaches, scouts and player agents. He is a long-time member of the FWAA and voter in College player awards - Heisman, Outland, Nagurski, Lombardi, Thorpe, Biletnikoff etc for the past 20 years. He writes College Football Mondays weekly during the season. He is a longtime scouting consultant for the Senior Bowl, the nation’s premier postseason All-star game. He does sports radio shows for ESPN, Fox Sports and Sporting News on a year round basis related to College Football especially during the postseason team and All-star Bowl time. He has worked for CBS Sports, NBC Sports, Yahoo and Rivals sports publications and web sites