UT Defensive End Brian Orakpo was named the winner of the 39th annual Rotary Lombardi Award, last night at Hilton’s Americas Hotel in downtown Houston. Orakpo is only the third winner from UT in history to win this prestigious award, following Kenneth Sims in 1981 and Tony DeGrate in 1984.
The 6-foot-4, 260-pound senior defensive end is the sixth in the nation with 10 1/2 sacks and is predicted to be a first round NFL draft pick. In this season alone he has forced four fumbles and had 18 tackles for a loss. While playing against Oklahoma in October, Orakpo made two sacks, four tackles for a loss and forced a fumble.
He started his career playing football and basketball at Lamar High School in Houston, Texas. When it came time to enter into college, he decided to concentrate on football. This decision proved to be the right direction for Orakpo because he was named the AP Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year on December 3rd, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which honors the nation’s top defensive players, on December 7th and the next day her received his college degree from the University of Texas in youth and community studies.
The other finalists for this award in 2008 were as follows: USC senior linebacker Rey Maulauga, who was named the All-Pac-10 first team for the third straight year; Alabama’s junior left tackle Andre Smith, the only offensive player in the running this year; and Ohio State senior linebacker James Laurinaitis, who is a repeat finalists after being the only junior up for the 38th Rotary Lombardi Award in 2007.