Senior Linebacker Among Nation's Elite

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - University of Illinois senior linebacker J Leman was named a semifinalist for two major awards, the Rotary Lombardi and the Butkus Award.

Leman is one of 12 semifinalists for the Rotary Lombardi Award, as announced by the Rotary Club of Houston and among 10 selected for the Butkus Award sponsored by the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando. Leman, Dan Connor of Penn State and James Laurinaitis of Ohio State are the only three players represented on both award lists.

Leman ranks sixth in the nation and is the Big Ten leader in tackles at 11.6, a position he has held for the past 15 weeks, dating back to the 2006 season. As the team leader, Leman is one of the primary reasons for the Illinois turnaround, which has the team at 5-2 this year. He is a four-year starter at linebacker.

The Lombardi national award is given to the most outstanding player who lines up five yards or fewer off the ball. Leman is one of eight defensive standouts and four Big Ten players selected. The Butkus Award is given to the nation's most outstanding linebacker and has twice been won by Illinois gridders - Dana Howard in 1994 and Kevin Hardy in 1995.

This Butkus Award list will be cut down to three finalists and announced on Thursday, November 9. The winner will be announced in December in Orlando, Fla. This year's Lombardi dinner will be held on December 5 at the Hilton Americas Hotel in Houston.

Leman also is a candidate for the Bronko Nagurski Defensive Award, the Ronnie Lott Impact Award and was named a semifinalist for the Draddy Award given to the all-around student-athlete.

Illinois media department

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