LOUISVIILE, Ky. Two of University of Louisville football defensive players continue to garner preseason honors as both were named to prestigious watch lists on Tuesday.
Senior linebacker James Burgess was tabbed to the Butkus Award and the Lombardi Award, while senior defensive end Sheldon Rankins was named to the Lombardi Award watch list. This has been a busy week for both players, as Burgess was also named to the Nagurski Award list, and Rankins was selected to both the Nagurski and Bednarik Award watch lists.
Eligibility for the Lombardi Award is limited to down linemen, end-to-end, either on offense or defense, who set up no farther than 10 yards to the left or right of the ball, or linebackers who set up no farther than five yards deep from the line of scrimmage, while the Butkus Award is given to the nation's top linebacker.
A native of Homestead, Fla., Burgess has been a two-year starter for the Cardinals, totaling 71 tackles in each of those seasons. As a junior last season, Burgess was third on the team in tackles, recording a career-best 11 in a 23-17 loss at Clemson and 10 in the Belk Bowl defeat versus Georgia. He also registered 4.0 sacks and a career-best three interceptions. The Homestead High product has six career interceptions from his linebacker position, including two during his freshman season.
Rankins was named third team all-ACC last season in helping the Cardinals rank in the top-10 nationally against the run and in total defense. He posted a career-best 13.5 tackles for loss and a team-high 8.0 quarterback sacks. A starter in 13 games in 2014, Rankins totaled eight tackles and a sack in a win at FIU, and also had his first two career interceptions in wins over Wake Forest and Boston College.