Iowa State senior linebacker/quarterback Joel Lanning is one of seven finalists for the Lombardi Award, announced today by the Lombardi Foundation.
The Lombardi Award, formerly given to defensive linemen of linebackers, is presented to a college football player, regardless of position, based on performance, as well as leadership, character and resiliency.
Four of the seven finalists will be chosen to attend the Lombardi Honors ceremony, Jan. 27 in Houston, Texas.
A true three-way player, Lanning had a remarkable senior season, leading the Cyclones into the national rankings for the first time since 2005 and a victory in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl with his uncanny versatility.
The two-time team captain and first-team All-American switched to linebacker prior to the 2017 season after spending his first four years in Ames as a quarterback, perhaps making Lanning one of the best comeback stories in college football history.
He didn’t play a down in his final game as a junior before Campbell convinced him to try linebacker for his senior season, a position he hadn’t played since eighth grade.
Lanning’s selfless act and team-first attitude inspired Iowa State to one of its best seasons in recent years, going 8-5 and defeating three teams ranked in the final AP Top-25 poll (Oklahoma, TCU, Memphis).
Lanning emerged as the most versatile player in college football, registering an astounding 1,001 snaps (822 on defense, 128 on special teams, 51 on offense).
The Ankeny, Iowa native, ranked 37th nationally in tackles per game (8.8), registering a team-high four double-digit tackle performances, including a career-high 20 stops vs. Texas. His 20 tackles vs. the Longhorns ranks ninth in school history and ties for fifth among FBS players this season.
Lanning was second on the team in sacks (6.0), third in TFL (11.0) and had a fumble recovery and interception on the season.
Lanning, who ranked third on the team in rushing (135) and fourth in passing (47), was utilized by the Cyclone offense in crucial situations throughout the season. He was perfect in “Money” down conversions, going 5-of-5 on third down and 5-of-5 on fourth down conversion rushes.
Lanning participated in the East-West Shrine Game on Saturday.
2017 Lombardi Award Finalists
Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
Shaquem Griffin, UCF
Lamar Jackson, Louisville
Joel Lanning, Iowa State
Bryce Love, Stanford
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
(story courtesy of ISU sports)