Mahelona up for award

Tennessee defensive tackle Jesse Mahelona highlights the list of 12 college football standouts named as semifinalists for the 36th Rotary Lombardi Award, presented by Wachovia Bank. This year's dinner, which benefits the American Cancer Society, will be held on December 7 at the Hilton Americas Hotel in Downtown Houston.

Mahelona is joined on this year's list by defensive tackle Rod Wright of Texas, center Greg Eslinger of Minnesota, defensive end Elvis Dumervil of Louisville, offensive tackle D'Brickshaw Ferguson of Virginia, defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka of Boston College, linebackers Spencer Havner of UCLA, A.J. Hawk of Ohio State, Paul Posluszny of Penn State and DeMeco Ryans of Alabama and offensive tackles Joe Thomas of Wisconsin and Eric Winston of Miami. Eslinger, Havner and Hawk were semifinalists in 2004.

Mahelona anchors a Vols defense that has not allowed a 100-yard rusher this year. The Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, native has at least one tackle for loss in 13 of his 18 UT games played, including two during Tennessee's 30-27 overtime win at LSU. The senior captain was an All-America pick last season by The Sporting News after leading the SEC with 18 1/2 tackles for loss for a combined minus-81 yards.

Founded in the weeks following the death of legendary football coach Vince Lombardi from cancer in 1970, the Rotary Lombardi Award presented by Wachovia Bank has annually delivered upon the mission set forth by Marie Lombardi when she first granted the use of her late husband's name. Her only stipulation was that all net proceeds from the event be donated to the American Cancer Society, and over $3.1 million has been generated since that time.

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