Greg Eslinger named Lombardi Award semifinalist

Minnesota junior center Greg Eslinger has been named one of 12 semifinalists for the 35th Rotary Lombardi Award. Eslinger is one of only three offensive players to be named as semifinalists.

Greg Eslinger, a 6-3, 285-pound lineman from Bismarck, N.D., has helped lead a Gopher offense that ranks first in the Big Ten and third in the nation in rushing yardage (272.6 ypg), second in the Big Ten and 10th in the nation in total offense (461.4 ypg) and second in the Big Ten and 22nd in the nation in scoring offense (33.4 ppg). Last season, Eslinger became the first Gopher All-American since center Ben Hamilton and punter Preston Gruening were honored following the 2000 season.

Joining Eslinger as 2004 semifinalists are Georgia defensive end David Pollack, Oklahoma offensive tackle Jamal Brown and defensive end Dan Cody, Virginia guard Elton Brown, Southern California defensive end Shaun Cody, Marshall defensive end Jonathan Goddard, UCLA linebacker Spencer Havner, Ohio State linebacker A. J. Hawk, Wisconsin defensive end Erasmus James, Texas linebacker Derrick Johnson and LSU defensive end Marcus Spears.

Last year defensive tackle Tommie Harris of Oklahoma became the first interior defender to win the award since Warren Sapp in 1994, snapping a streak of four straight wins by defensive ends.

The list of 12 semifinalists will be cut down to four finalists during the next round of voting, which will begin on Monday, Oct. 25. The four finalists will be announced on Tuesday, Nov. 9. The winner of the 2004 Rotary Lombardi Award will be announced at the conclusion of the 35th anniversary Rotary Lombardi Award Dinner, which will be held at the Hilton Americas Hotel in Houston. Since its inception in 1971, the Rotary Lombardi Award has raised over $3 million for the American Cancer Society.

Eslinger is also a candidate for the 2004 Rimington Trophy Award, given to the nation's best center.

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