Grove Named Lombardi Semifinalist
Senior center one of 12 up for award
October 28, 2003

HOUSTON, Texas - Virginia Tech All-America center Jake Grove (Forest, Va.) is one of the 12 semifinalists for the 34th Rotary Lombardi Award, as released Tuesday morning. The winner will be announced on Dec. 10 in Houston.

Five of the 12 spots were occupied by players on three of the remaining undefeated Division I-A teams. Defensive tackle Tommie Harris and linebacker Teddy Lehman of top-ranked Oklahoma were selected as semifinalists in the first round of national voting. Linebacker Jonathan Vilma and tight end Kellen Winslow of the second-ranked Miami Hurricanes were named, as was defensive end Bo Schobel of TCU which ran its record to 8-0 with a 62-55 win at Houston this past weekend.

Rounding out the list of 12 semifinalists are offensive tackle Shawn Andrews of Arkansas, defensive end David Ball of UCLA, offensive tackle Robert Gallery of Iowa, linebacker Matt Grootegoed of USC and defensive ends David Pollack of Georgia and Will Smith of Ohio State.

Harris was a finalist for the award last season and is looking to become the first two-time finalist since Andy Katzenmoyer of Ohio State in 1997 and 1998. Winslow is the first tight end to be named a semifinalist since Keith Jackson of Oklahoma, who went on to be named a finalist in 1987.

Grove, who was named the fourth-team All-America center by The Sporting News last year, has graded out at 91 percent this year through seven games and has 24 knockdown blocks. He has graded above 80 percent in each of the last 21 games, at 86 percent or higher in all seven games this year, and 90 percent or higher in five of the seven games.

A total of eight defensive players make up this year's list including four defensive ends and three linebackers, while the offensive side of the ball is represented by two tackles and a center in addition to Winslow. The full spectrum of sizes are represented in the semifinalists, ranging from Grootegoed (5-11, 215) to Andrews (6-6, 353) and Gallery (6-7, 320).

The semifinalists were selected by a panel of over 400 selectors, comprised of all Division 1 head coaches, all past winners and finalists of the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as writers and broadcasters who cover college football. Voting to determine the four finalists for the award will begin immediately and conclude on Monday, Nov. 11.

Now in it's 34th year, the Rotary Lombardi Award continues on the path first set down by the founders of the award, who conceived of the event as a way to honor the memory of Vince Lombardi and raise money for the American Cancer Society. The first event took place just over four months after Lombardi's death, and since that time, nearly $3 million has been raised for cancer research.