The preseason watch list for the 2016 Lott Impact Trophy – going to the top defensive player in college football – has been released. Here are the 42 top defensive players in college football going into the season.
The 42 players were announced for the 2016 Lott IMPACT Trophy Preseason Watch List, highlighting the top preseason prospects to win the award for the best defensive player in college football.
Named for legendary USC defensive back and NFL Hall of Famer, Ronnie Lott, the award is given to the player who best represents the best combination of on-field play and character. The voting is done a panel of former coaches, players, and media members, and there will be a Lott IMPACT Trophy Player of the Week award given out each week during the season, with the winner earning a $1,000 scholarship for his school.
The past Lott winners: David Pollack, Georgia (2004); DeMeco Ryans, Alabama (2005); Dante Hughes, Cal (2006); Glenn Dorsey, LSU (2007); James Laurinaitis, Ohio State (2008); Jerry Hughes, TCU (2009); J.J. Watt, Wisconsin (2010); Luke Kuechly, Boston College (2011); Manti Te’o, Notre Dame (2012); Anthony Barr, UCLA (2013); Eric Kendricks, UCLA (2014); Carl Nassib, Penn State (2015)
2016 Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch List
For more, check out lottimpacttrophy.org
Jamal Adams, S, LSU
Led team with four interceptions; 60 tackles as a sophomore; All SEC 2nd team; Freshman All-American.
Sean Ahern, S, Harvard
Two-time All-Ivy league defensive back; Team Captain; All New England; Blocked two kicks as a junior.
Joey Alfieri, LB, Stanford
40 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks last season; High school honor society; National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete.
Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
Led national champion Tide with 12 sacks, added 14.5 tackles for loss; All-SEC.
Dante Barnett, S, Kansas State
Player representative for third straight season; Injured in 2015; 5th-year senior; Second team All-Big 12 in 2014; 176 career tackles.
Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
Has 33 tackles for loss last two seasons and 20 sacks; All-SEC second team.
Evan Berry, CB, Tennessee
All-American kick returner; Has 1,217 return yards in two seasons; 3 touchdowns; Returned interception 100 yards for touchdown last year; SEC Special Teams Player of the Year; Brother of former Lott IMPACT Trophy finalist Eric Berry, now with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Quin Blanding, S, Virginia
All-ACC; 2nd team; All-American; 115 tackles on the season; Freshman All-American.
Ben Boulware, LB, Clemson
Academic All-ACC; Led team with 10 quarterback hurries; 3rd on team with 82 tackles; ACC Academic Honor Roll.
Riley Bullough, LB, Michigan State
Led team with 106 tackles last season; 2nd team All-Big Ten; third generation of Bulloughs to play at Michigan State.
Jason Cabinda, LB, Penn State
Led Nittany Lions with 100 tackles; honorable mention All-Big Ten; high school honor student.
Josh Carraway, DE, TCU
All-Big 12; 11.5 tackles for losses, 9 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries, 47 total tackles.
Jack Cichy, LB, Wisconsin
60 tackles last season, 8 tackles for loss, 3 sacks in Holiday Bowl win over USC; Volunteered with Amnesty International and as a camp counselor with local football and basketball youth; Participated in food preparation at a local homeless shelter and volunteered at Ronald McDonald House.
Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
Consensus All-American as a sophomore last season; All-SEC; among the nation’s leaders in tackles for losses with 19.5 and 12.5 sacks; led team with 10 quarterback hurries and had a total of 59 tackles; On Watch List last season.
Dylan Haines, S, Texas
All-Big 12 in 2014; Academic All-Big 12; Four times on Big-12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll; Former walk-on.
Charles Harris, DL, Missouri
His 18.5 tackles for loss among tops in the nation; Had 56 total tackles, 7 sacks.
Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC
USC’s returning MVP from 2015; Plays multiple positions on offense (Wide Receiver) and defense (Cornerback); has scored touchdowns on offense, defense, returning a punt and returning a kick; All Pac-10 last season and made several All-American teams.
Eddie Jackson, S, Alabama
All-SEC choice, 6 interceptions for 230 return yards; 46 total tackles.
Derwin James, S, Florida State
Freshman All-American last year; His 91 tackles were second on team; Had 9.5 tackles for losses, 4.5 sacks; Forced two fumbles and recovered two.
Joshua Kalu, CB, Nebraska
Honorable mention All-Big Ten; 75 tackles, 3 interceptions; Named to the Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll in the spring 2015 semester; honored for his community outreach work with a spot on the Brook Berringer and Tom Osborne Citizenship Teams; has volunteered his time with Make-A-Wish, NFL Fuel Up to Play 60, as well as local hospital and rec center outreach events.
Andrew King, LB, Army
Led Cadets with 14 tackles for losses and 5 quarterback sacks; had 72 tackles on the season; also plays lacrosse; Platoon Leader and Honor Officer.
Desmond King, S, Iowa
Unanimous consensus All-American last season; Thorpe winner as top defensive back in the nation; Also won Jack Tatum Award and was the Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year; Had 8 interceptions (2nd in the country); 205 career tackles.
Micah Kiser, LB, Virginia
Led team with 117 tackles; All-ACC; 3rd team All-American, ACC Academic Honor Roll; volunteers at Ronald McDonald House and Agape House.
Jourdan Lewis CB, Michigan
All-Big Ten performer; several All-American teams; Thorpe and Bednarik semi-finalist last season; 52 tackles, two interceptions in 2015.
William Likely, CB, Maryland
All-American punt returner, led the nation with 1,197 return yards in 2015; All-Big Ten cornerback as a sophomore and junior; Started one game at wide receiver, too; Academic All-ACC as a freshman.
Dallas Lloyd, S, Stanford
Academic All-Pac 12 (2nd team); National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete in high school; Eagle Scout; 55 tackles last season.
Cameron Malveaux, DE, Houston
33 tackles, 8.5 tackles for losses, 9 quarterback hurries; won the Hamshire-Fannett Outstanding Student-Athlete Award in high school; member of the HFHS Student Council and Chess Club.
James McFarland, DE, TCU
Missed 2015 season with broken foot; Defensive MVP of the Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl in 2014; Had 12 tackles for losses, 7 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and 41 total tackles that season.
Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State
Led Buckeyes with 119 tackles; had 16 in one game, 14 in two others; 3rd in conference in total tackles; All-Big Ten; Butkus finalist; Team captain in ‘16.
Viliami Moeakiola, LB, Arizona State
Team captain; 51 tackles, 6.5 tackles for losses.
Calvin Munson, LB, San Diego State
On Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch List last season; Lott Player of the Week after returning two interceptions for touchdowns in Week 1; Led Aztecs with 98 tackles and 15 tackles for losses; also a standout baseball pitcher.
Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan
Versatile athlete who returned kicks and punts last season while starting on defense and playing some running back; Moved to linebacker in spring; Named All-Big Ten defensive back; Had 45 tackles; Set New Jersey high school record in 200-meter dash (20.79).
Cameron Smith, LB, USC
Became first freshman to start at middle linebacker for Trojans in 38 years; Had 78 tackles on season; 3 interceptions in win over Utah, one for a touchdown and was National Player of the Week.
Arrion Springs, DB, Oregon
Led Ducks with 12 passes broken up; recorded 53 tackles.
Weston Steelhammer, S, Air Force
Leading tackler on team last season with 80 stops, had 5 interceptions (11 in last two years), 10.5 tackles for losses; on Watch List in 2015; National Honor Society in high school, cadet cadre survival training in 2015; All-Mountain West first team selection.
M.J. Stewart, CB, North Carolina
His 18 passes defended tied for most in the ACC; 62 tackles on the season; 4 interceptions, Second team All-ACC.
Jordan Thomas, CB, Oklahoma
All Big-12 selection; 46 tackles; 5 interceptions for 153 return yards with one touchdown.
Drue Tranquill, S, Notre Dame
Newcomer of the Year for Irish in 2014; injured last season; high school baseball star.
Anthony Walker, LB, Northwestern
Fourth in the nation with 20.5 tackles for loss; All-Big Ten; on several All-American teams; led team with 113 tackles.
Jordan Whitehead, DB, Pitt
One of the top freshmen in the country last season; Consensus Frosh All-American; led Pitt with 109 tackles, most ever by a freshman; Also Academic All-ACC; Rushed 12 times for 122 yards and two touchdowns.
Tim Williams, LB, Alabama
Had 10.5 sacks last season, 12.5 tackles for loss; Disruptive pass rusher.
A.J. Wolf, DL, Duke
Academic All-American; 54 tackles last season; father was an Olympic shot putter.
Player write-ups coming from the Lott IMPACT Trophy, presented by the Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation in Newport Beach, CA.