Oct. 20, 2009
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — Baylor senior linebacker Joe Pawelek is among 20 quarterfinalists for the 2009 Ronnie Lott Trophy, the Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation announced Tuesday. The Lott Trophy, named for NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott, is in its sixth year and honors college football’s top defensive player.
A product of Smithson Valley [Texas] High School, Pawelek is one of six linebackers in the 20-man quarterfinalists list, joining Pat Angerer (Iowa), Greg Jones (Michigan State), Rolando McClain (Alabama), Brandon Spikes (Florida) and Sean Weatherspoon (Missouri). Pawelek and Weatherspoon join Sam Acho (DL, Texas), Gerald McCoy (DL, Oklahoma), Darrell Stuckey (DB, Kansas) and Ndamukong Suh (DL, Nebraska) to give the Big 12 Conference six quarterfinalists.
Pawelek leads all active FBS players with 369 career tackles. He needs four tackles to crack the NCAA’s all-time top 30 list in career tackles and ranks third in Baylor history behind former NFL players Mike Singletary (662 tackles) and Ray Berry (380 tackles). Pawelek ranks second in the Big 12 and 31st nationally with 9.3 tackles per game this season. He had 21 tackles against Connecticut earlier this season, the second-best, single-game total nationally this season and the best game tally by a Baylor linebacker since Singletary.
A 2008 All-America and Academic All-America honoree, Pawelek also leads all active FBS linebackers with nine career interceptions. He needs one pick to become the 13th player in Baylor history with at least 10 career interceptions. Pawelek, who is on pace to start more games than any player in Baylor history, will start his 40th consecutive game Saturday when the Bears host 14th-ranked Oklahoma State.
Pawelek also is active in community service efforts. He has assisted the Central Texas area at events such as Santa’s Workshop, reading to area youth in the One Book One Waco program, was a spokesperson for Baylor’s “Food for Families” canned food drive, played with young cancer survivors at the Li’l Wrangler Round-Up Party, and worked with Waco’s Special Olympics. He also speaks regularly to youth at area schools.
Semifinalists for the Lott Trophy will be announced Nov. 3 with four finalists announced Nov. 24. Previous winners of the award are David Pollack (Georgia, 2004), DeMeco Ryans (Alabama, 2005), Dante Hughes (California, 2006), Glenn Dorsey (LSU, 2007) and James Laurinaitis (Ohio State, 2008).
Tickets for Saturday’s game against Oklahoma State are available online at www.BaylorBears.com or through the Baylor Ticket Office at 254.710.1000. Kickoff is scheduled for 11:32 a.m. CDT; the game will be televised nationally on the Versus Network.