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Empey, Barrington named to Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List


HOUSTON — BYU offensive linemen James Empey and Clark Barrington were named to the 2021 Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List, the Rotary Club of Houston announced on Thursday.  

Named after NFL Hall of Fame Head Coach Vince Lombardi, the Rotary Lombardi Award recognizes offensive and defensive linemen, who in addition to outstanding performance and ability, best exemplify Lombardi’s character and discipline. 

Empey has been recognized on five preseason award watch lists, in addition to being named a preseason All-American by both Phil Steele and Athlon Sports.

A team captain, Empey has started at center in all 34 games he’s played in during his BYU career. He also exemplifies leadership off the field, highlighted by his work alongside head coach Kalani Sitake with the More to Life Foundation and service in the community. 

Barrington, who was named to the Phil Steele All-Independent Second Team in 2020, joined Empey last season in leading the Cougars’ offensive line to concede just 12 sacks over 12 games, ranking 8th in the country. 

Earning a starting role during his freshman year, Barrington, a sophomore, has started in 14 of the 20 games he’s played in for the Cougars. Following the 2019 season, Barrington received Pro Football Focus All-Freshman Team honorable mention. 

The two Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List nominees also contributed to BYU offense’s top-10 rankings in scoring (No. 4), total offense (No. 7),  passing offense (No. 8), and most plays of 30 or more yards (No. 1) in 2020.

Nominations for the Rotary Lombardi Award close on October 11. Semifinalists for the award will be announced on Oct. 13 and finalists will be announced on Nov. 9. The formal announcement of the 2021 recipient will be made on Dec. 8 in Houston.

Notable Rotary Lombardi Award Winners include Ndamukong Suh, Aaron Taylor, Julius Peppers, Terrell Suggs, Aaron Donald, and two-time winner Orlando Pace.