MANHATTAN, Kansas – The Rotary Lombardi Award listed two Kansas State football players among its 77-man watch list, as defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah and offensive lineman Cooper Beebe were named candidates for the award on Monday.
The Lombardi Award, which is presented by the Rotary Club of Houston, goes to the top college football down lineman on either side of the ball or a linebacker. Anudike-Uzomah and Beebe are the first Wildcats to be candidates for the award since current Chicago Bear offensive lineman Cody Whitehair was on the preseason watch list in 2015. A K-State player has been a candidate 11 other times, while defensive tackle Tim Colston was a semifinalist in 1995.
It was the second watch list designation for Anudike-Uzomah on Monday as he was named to the Chuck Bednarik Award watch list earlier in the day, while it was his third of the preseason after also being named to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list last Tuesday. The inclusion on the Lombardi Award watch list is the second for Beebe, who was on the Outland Trophy watch list last Tuesday.
Anudike-Uzomah earned All-America honors last season in addition to being the Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year and a First Team All-Big 12 performer. He tied for the national lead in forced fumbles per game (0.46), ranked 11th nationally in sacks per game (0.85), and his 11.0 total sacks tied for fifth in school history. Additionally, he totaled six forced fumbles to tie the school record.
Beebe, a product of Kansas City, Kansas, was a 13-game starter at left tackle last year who picked up First Team All-Big 12 honors from both the league's coaches and Associated Press, the youngest offensive lineman to be named to the first team by either organization. Beebe was the first Wildcat freshman or sophomore offensive lineman to be named a First Team All-Big 12 performer since Dalton Risner in 2016, while he also earned votes for the Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year Award from the league's coaches.
K-State is now up to 13 watch list designations this preseason. In addition to Anudike-Uzomah's and Beebe's honors, others to earn nods are running back Deuce Vaughn (Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award, Doak Walker Award), cornerback Julius Brents (Jim Thorpe Award), punter Ty Zentner (Ray Guy Award), quarterback Will Howard (AFCA Good Works Team, Wuerffel Trophy) and long snapper Randen Plattner (Patrick Mannelly Award).
K-State embarks on the 2022 season when the Wildcats take on South Dakota on Sept. 3, a 6 p.m., contest inside Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Kansas State remains at home for its other two non-conference matchups, a Sept. 10 showdown against former Big 8/12 foe Missouri and a Sept. 17 game against Tulane.