Caleb Campbell named to Lott watch list

It could have been the toughest sight of last season. There was Army star Caleb Campbell hobbling off the Louisiana Superdome turf during the Black Knights' game against Tulane. It only got worse from there. Campbell was diagnosed with a torn ACL and MCL in his knee. He was done for the season.

But expect Campbell to be back with vengeance this fall. A lot of people in high places certainly do. Despite his horrific injury just six months ago, Campbell, a junior strong safety, is one of 42 individuals named Monday to the preseason "watch list" for the Lott Trophy. This marks the second consecutive year Lott has been named to the list. The award is named after another hard hitter, Ronnie Lott, of San Francisco 49ers fame. Campbell is expected to be 100 percent way before Army hopes the season against Akron.

He is a true impact player. And what a coincidence. The Lott Trophy is awarded to college football's Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year. It's a special award, considering it's the first college football award to recognize athletic performance and the personal character attributes of the player.

We all know about Campbell's character. He began his Army career in 2004 as part run-stopper for Army, part deep man, part linebacker. He played one position. Confused? Campbell was at times. He played the position called the whip, a Todd Berry creation, that former coach Bobby Ross whacked after his first year.

Campbell did a decent job, especially considering he was only a freshman. He started Army's final six games. But whip is a tough position for anyone at the Academy to play. So Army coach Bobby Ross dropped it after 2004 in favor of a more conventional 4-3 defense. Campbell flourished in the new scheme. Let's hope he flourishes this fall.

If he does, expect him to get, at least, a small look by the Lott committee, even though players from bigger schools have the advantage.

Sponsored by The Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation, the award is given to a player who exhibits the same characteristics Lott embodied during his distinguished career: Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity.Despite missing the Black Knights' final three games, Campbell ranks as Army's leading returning tackler after recording 59 stops in 2006. Campbell has developed into a play-making impact performer on the defensive side of the football over the past two seasons. In 2005, he registered a team-leading 97 tackles and five interceptions.

David Pollack of Georgia won the initial Lott Trophy in 2004, DeMeco Ryans of Alabama copped the award in 2005 and Daymeion Hughes of California was the recipient in 2006. Voters for the award include selected members of the national media, previous finalists, the Board of Directors of the Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation, The IMPACT Foundation Board of Advisers comprised of many retired NFL players and Master Coaches, a distinguished group of former head college coaches.

The winner of the 2007 Lott Trophy will be announced at a gala black-tie banquet at The Pacific Club in Newport Beach, Calif. on Dec. 9, 2007.

So Caleb, make sure you have a nice tuxedo.


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