HOUSTON – Four Baylor student-athletes, Andrew Billings, Spencer Drango, Kyle Fuller and Shawn Oakman were named to the 2015 Rotary Lombardi Award watch list, the award's committee announced Tuesday.
The Rotary Lombardi Award is limited to down linemen, end-to-end, either on offense or defense, who set up no farther than 10 yards to the left or right of the ball, or linebackers who set up no farther than five yards deep from the line of scrimmage.
Baylor is one of only six schools in the country with four or more athletes on the list, joining Boise State (4), East Carolina (4), Notre Dame (7), Ohio State (5) and UCLA (4). The Bears lead the Big 12 Conference with the four selections as no other team in the league has more than two representatives.
Billings, a returning All-Big 12 lineman, was the starting nose tackle for all 13 games during 2014. He totaled 37 tackles (26 solo, 11.5 for loss of 38 yards), 2.0 sacks, nine hurries and one forced fumble on the season. The Waco, Texas, product ranked 12th in the Big 12 (third on team) with 11.5 tackles for loss and led BU with nine QB hurries.
Drango is a returning All-American and a two-time first team All-Big 12 honoree. He is slated to be a fourth-year starter at left tackle and has a team-high 35 career starts entering 2014 season. A year ago, Drango started all 13 games at left tackle to earn consensus 2014 All-America and unanimous first-team All-Big 12 honors. He was named the Big 12 Co-Offensive Lineman of Year, after leading an offensive line that powered BU’s running game to 215.5 yards per game (second in Big 12) and ranked fourth in league with 1.85 average sacks allowed.
Last season, Fuller started every game for the Big 12 champion Bears at center. He led the team with 49 knockdowns and earned an 87.3 coaches’ grade for the season, which was fourth best on the squad. With Fuller serving as its anchor, Baylor’s offensive line blocked for America’s top offense in 2014. BU led the country in total offensive (581.5 ypg) and scoring offense (48.2 ppg).
Oakman enters 2015 as a returning All-American. Last season, he started all 13 games, while setting a BU single-season record with 11.0 sacks. He ranked 15th nationally (second in Big 12) at 0.85 sacks per-game. Oakman ranked top 10 nationally in tackles-for-loss (1.5 per-game, 10th) and fumbles recovered (three, 10th). He tallied consensus first-team All-Big 12 honors by totaling 51 tackles (38 solo), 19.5 tackles for loss (-89 yards), 11.0 sacks (-73 yards), nine QB hurries, three PBUs, three forced fumbles and three fumbles recovered on season.
It is the fourth watch list for Billings and the third for Oakman as both players made the Bednarik and Nagurski watch lists and Billings was also tabbed to the Outland list. It is the second preseason honor for both Drango (Outland) and Fuller (Rimington).
Drango and Oakman both made the 2014 version of the Rotary Lombardi Award watch list.
The full Rotary Lombardi watch list includes 146 athletes.
Last season, Baylor placed a trio of players on the watch list with Bryce Hager joining Drango and Oakman. BU has now had at least two representatives on the list for three consecutive years with Hager and offensive lineman Cyril Richardson being recognized in 2013.
This year's candidates earned a place on the preliminary watch list by earning All-American honors, being named to their respective all-conference teams or receiving 2015 preseason honors. The Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List will be updated prior to the start of the 2015 season in order to identify other players who have received significant preseason honors.
While the watch list highlights those players who have already received national recognition, any Division I player who meets the requirements is eligible for consideration from the Rotary Lombardi selection committee. This committee is comprised of more than 300 members, including all past winners and finalists, all Division I head coaches and a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters.
The Rotary Lombardi Watch List, intended as a reference tool for the selection committee, will be periodically updated and revised through the conclusion of the voting to determine the 12 semifinalists for 2054.
The 46th Rotary Lombardi Award will be presented on Dec. 9 at the Bayou Music Center in Houston, Texas.