Tapp Named Lott Trophy Candidate
Award goes to college football defensive IMPACT player of the year
September 5, 2005

Senior defensive end Darryl Tapp (Chesapeake, Va.) has been named a candidate for the 2005 Lott Trophy, which is the only college football award based on personal character. Each week, the IMPACT Foundation, which sponsors the award, profiles one of the candidates. Below is this week's profile on Tapp, who had four tackles, two quarterback hurries and a pass break up in Tech's 20-16 win at N.C. State Sunday night.

TAPP BECAME STAR THE OLD-FASHIONED WAY

The people who compile the watch list for The Lott Trophy search the country for the best COLLEGIATE defensive players with characteristics that Ronnie Lott himself embodied during his illustrious college and pro Hall of Fame career.

One of the easiest ones to find was in the weight room on the campus of Virginia Tech, nestled between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains.

It is there that Darryl Tapp has built himself into one of the premier defensive linemen in America. A 225-pound freshman in 2002, he enters his senior campaign a rock-solid 268 pounds on his 6-1 frame, carved by hours and hours in the gym.

His work ethic is such, that teammates have nicknamed him "Fast Forward" for his relentless pursuit of excellence - on and off the field.

Tapp holds the school record for his position in the back squat at 660 pounds, a testament to his desire to build his strength. This past summer he participated in an Athletes in Action Ultimate Summer Camp in Ft. Collins, Col., that was designed to teach athletes how to apply spiritual principles to their lives and sports, a testament to his desire to build his personal character.

"The one thing about Darryl Tapp is that he knows one speed," says Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster. "That's full speed, in everything he does."

And it's that everything that appeals to the people at The Lott Trophy.

In its second year, The Lott Trophy honors the college football Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year. The student-athlete is judged on both his on-field performance and his off-field performance. The Lott Trophy is the first sports award based on personal character and is appropriately named after the legendary defensive back, Ronnie Lott. The award is presented by The Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation of Newport Beach, Ca. Last year's winner was David Pollack, the All-American defensive end from Georgia.

Certainly Tapp's on-field performance has turned heads from Blacksburg to Newport Beach.

"There is only one way to be a champion and that is doing it both on and off the field," said Lott. "Darryl shows championship qualities."

As a junior last season, he led the Hokies in tackles for loss (16.5) and sacks (8). Virginia Tech, which has emerged as one of the most successful collegiate programs in the country, had another banner season in 2004, thanks to players like Tapp. The Hokies were 10-3, ranked No. 2 in the country in scoring defense and advanced to the Sugar Bowl, before losing to Auburn. Virginia Tech opened the new season with a 20-16 victory over North Carolina State on the road, avenging its only ACC loss from a year ago.

Tapp's accomplishments are even more impressive when you realize he played the entire season with a deep concern in his personal life. His older brother, Charles Tapp II, an Air Force officer, was shipped to Iraq midway through the season. (He returned safely earlier this year).

Now Darryl Tapp has been touted as a pre-season All-American by several publications. He'll be the anchor of a defense that's expected to create havoc all year long. The future? More than likely he'll be found in some weight room in the National Football League, perhaps in Buffalo where former Tech star Bruce Smith became a dominant player.

But first things first -- a senior season in Blacksburg that could bring further rewards for the hard-working Tapp.