Peppers Named Lombardi Semifinalist

HOUSTON, TEXAS--University of North Carolina junior defensive end Julius Peppers has been named one of 12 semifinalists for the 2001 Rotary Lombardi Award. The award is given annually to the nation*s best lineman.

Peppers, also a candidate for the Bronko Nagurski Award (best defensive player) and the Heisman Trophy (best overall player), has 43 tackles this season, including 8.5 sacks and 17 tackles for losses. He leads the Tar Heels with three interceptions and has more interceptions this season than any other defensive lineman in the country. Peppers made a spectacular interception in the Tar Heels* 38-3 win at Clemson two weeks ago and is ranked eighth in the ACC in interceptions.

A two-sport standout in football and basketball, Peppers has 29.5 career sacks and 51 career tackles for losses. He is just three sacks shy of the Carolina record of 32.5 sacks established by former first-round NFL draft pick Greg Ellis (1994-97). Ellis, who was a finalist for the 1997 Lombardi Award, is now a starting defensive end for the Dallas Cowboys. Peppers is six sacks shy of the ACC record of 35.5 set by Virginia*s Chris Slade from 1989-92.

A native of Bailey, N.C., Peppers has more sacks in a two-year period than any other player in Carolina history. Peppers has 23.5 sacks in the last two seasons, including 15 in 2000 and 8.5 this year. Ellis combined for 21.5 sacks in 1996 and 1997 and Lawrence Taylor had a total of 21 sacks in 1979 and 2000.

Peppers has scored three career defensive touchdowns, including a 29-yard interception return at Oklahoma in the Tar Heels* 2001 season opener. He also scored touchdowns last season on an interception at Wake Forest and a fumble return at Duke.

The four finalists for the Lombardi Award will be announced the week of November 11 after a second round of voting among nearly 300 members of the selection committee made up of sportswriters, broadcasters and Division I head coaches from around the country. The winner will be announced in Houston on Dec. 5.

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