Illinois senior linebacker Mason Monheim was named to the preseason watch list for the 2015 Rotary Lombard Award on Tuesday.
The award is given to the nation's best down linemen, end-to-end, either on offense or defense, who set up farther than 10 yards to the left or right of the ball or linebackers, who are no farther than five yards deep from the line of scrimmage.
Monheim ranks second-most among active FBS players with 294 career tackles entering his senior season. He recorded career-high in tackles (111), tackles for loss (6.5), passes defended (4) and forced fumbles (4). He also led the Big Ten conference and ranked 17th in FBS with 0.31 forced fumbles per game.
Monheim is joined on the list by 12 other Big Ten players on the watch list, including Indiana offensive guard Dan Feeney; Michigan State's center Jack Allen, defensive end Shilique Calhoun and offensive tackle Jack Conklin; Ohio State's defensive end Joey Bosa, offensive tackle Taylor Decker, offensive guard Pat Elflein, defensive tackle Adolpus Washington and linebacker Darron Lee; Penn State's defensive tackle Anthony Zettel; Rutgers' linebacker Steve Longa; and Wisconsin's linebacker Vince Biegel.
The award has gone to a defensive player every year since 1996, when Ohio State offensive lineman Orlando Pace won it for the second time. A Big Ten player has earned the trophy twice since Pace's consecutive wins: Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk (2005) and Michigan linebacker LaMarr Woodley (2006).
The Lombardi award watch list will be updated prior to the start of the 2015 season in order to identify other players who have received preseason honors.
The Rotary Lombardi Selection Committee is comprised of more than 500 members, including all past winners and finalists, all Division I head coaches and a panel of writers and broadcasters. The award will be presented Dec. 9 at the Bayou Music Center in Houston.