IOWA CITY, Iowa — Five University of Iowa football players were named to the 2016 Rotary Lombardi Award preseason Watch List on Thursday afternoon, announced by the Rotary Lombardi Award committee. Seniors C.J. Beathard, Jaleel Johnson, and George Kittle, and juniors Josey Jewell and Sean Welsh are among the 158 candidates on the preliminary watch list.
The watch list includes student-athletes who demonstrate outstanding performance and skill in offensive or defensive positions and best exemplify the discipline, virtue and wisdom that defined Vincent Lombardi’s exceptional brand of leadership. The players gained a position on the preliminary watch list by earning All-American honors, being named to their respective all-conference teams, or by receiving 2016 preseason honors.
Last season, all five Hawkeyes played a vital role in guiding Iowa to an undefeated regular season (12-2 overall) and Big Ten West Division title. Iowa also landed its first Rose Bowl appearance since 1991.
Offensively, Beathard started all 14 games at quarterback, passing for 2,809 yards and 17 touchdowns, while rushing for 237 yards and six touchdowns. Kittle played in all 14 games, notching six starts. A preseason candidate for the John Mackey Award, Kittle hauled in 20 receptions for 290 yards and led Iowa with six touchdown receptions, including the only touchdown of the game in Iowa’s 10-6 victory at Wisconsin. Behind Welsh and the offensive line, the Hawkeye rushing attack amassed 2,544 total yards and scored 35 rushing touchdowns — second most in the Big Ten and 12th nationally — in 14 games. That same unit was also crucial to the Hawkeye passing game, which accounted for 2,862 yards.
Defensively, Jewell and Johnson anchored a Hawkeye defense that allowed 11 rushing touchdowns, the seventh lowest total in the country, and yielded an average of 121.4 rushing yards per game, ranking 15th nationally. Jewell led Iowa with 126 total tackles, including 62 solo stops and three sacks. His four interceptions ranked second on the team, while his 7.5 tackles for loss tied for second best. Johnson started all 14 games, recording 45 tackles, including 5.5 tackles for loss and four sacks.
The Rotary Lombardi Award ceremony date will be announced later in the football season along with updated lists of award candidates. Visit rotarylombardiaward.org for more information and continued updates.
Iowa opens the 2016 season Sept. 3 against Miami, Ohio. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:32 p.m. (CT) at Kinnick Stadium. Tickets remain for five of UI’s home football games (Miami, North Dakota State, Northwestern, Wisconsin, and Nebraska) at the UI Athletic Ticket Office located in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, by calling 1-800-IA-HAWKS, or online at hawkeyesports.com/tickets.