FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Junior D.J. Williams and senior Malcolm Sheppard were added to Arkansas’ growing list of preseason football watch lists on Tuesday afternoon as the Lombardi Award tabbed both players and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy selected Sheppard.
Williams’ selection to the Lombardi Award watch list is his third nomination to a preseason award and follows his inclusion in the John Mackey Award and AFCA Good Works Team. Williams was also included on two preseason first-team All-SEC squads and one second team. Arkansas’ leading receiver in 2008, Williams had a breakout season at tight end for the Razorbacks as he hauled in 61 receptions for 723 yards over 12 games. He caught three touchdown passes and was the only sophomore to be named a finalist for the 2008 John Mackey Award which goes to the nation’s best tight end.
Sheppard has quickly become Arkansas’ most decorated player on the preseason awards circuit as he added his third and fourth preseason honor. Along with the Lombardi and Bednarik awards, Sheppard was also included on the Bednarik and Outland Trophy lists while also garnering a first-team and two second-team preseason all-SEC nods. Sheppard was Arkansas’ second leading tackler last season with 52 solo and 68 total tackles while leading the Razorback roster in tackles for loss (14.5), sacks (6.5), quarterback hurries (12) and forced fumbles (2). In the national rankings, his 14.5 tackles for loss ranked 25th and was tied for 38th in sacks.
The Lombardi Award is awarded to the nation’s top football lineman, either offensive or defensive, by Houston’s Rotary Club. Along with outstanding performances on the field, the winning candidate must also possess the discipline of Vince Lombardi. The Lombardi Watch List is comprised of 153 players and will be cut down to 12 semifinalists on Oct. 14. Four finalists will be announced on Nov. 11 and the awards ceremony for the honor is slated for Dec. 9, at the Hilton Americas in Houston, Texas.
The Charlotte Touchdown Club is the presenter of the Bronko Nagurski Award which is presented to the nation’s best defensive player. Its namesake was an all-American lineman at Minnesota in the late 20s and went on to a Hall of Fame career with the Chicago Bears. The Nagurski Watch list tabbed 62 players to its initial.
The Razorbacks continue preparations for their season opener on September 5, against Missouri State in Little Rock, Ark. For more information regarding Razorback football or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.