Iowa State linebacker Joel Lanning makes a tackle during the Cyclones’ win at Baylor on Nov. 18.
The following is a press release courtesy of Iowa State Athletics Communications.
AMES, Iowa – Iowa State senior linebacker/quarterback Joel Lanning is one of 21 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.
The list will be trimmed to seven finalists on Jan. 22.
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.
His transition was remarkable, leading the Cyclone defense, which ranked 26th nationally in scoring defense (20.9), at the Mike linebacker spot.
Lanning 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 first appeared on the national radar with his incredible “Iron Man” performance at Oklahoma on Oct. 7. With Lanning playing 78 total snaps (57 on defense, 13 on offense, eight on special teams), the Cyclones upset No. 3 Oklahoma (38-31) en route to their first-ever win over a top-five opponent on the road.
Lanning finished the Oklahoma game with eight tackles, a sack, a fumble recovery, 35 rushing yards and 25 passing yards in one of the most memorable performances in school history. He was named Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts.
A native of Ankeny, Iowa, Lanning’s overall season snap count was astounding (1,001 snaps: 822 on defense, 128 on special teams, 51 on offense).
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 will participate in the East-West Shrine Game on Saturday (Jan. 20). Kickoff is at 2 p.m. on the NFL Network.
2017 Lombardi Award Nominees
Saquon Barkley, Penn State
J.T. Barrett, Ohio State
Bradley Chubb, N.C. State
Tyrell Crosby, Oregon
DeShon Elliott, Texas
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
Shaquem Griffin, UCF
Lamar Jackson, Louisville
Derwin James, Florida State
Joel Lanning, Iowa State
Bryce Love, Stanford
Hercules Mata”afa, Washington State
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame
Ed Oliver, Houston
Da’Ron Payne, Alabama
Rashaad Penny, San Diego State
Roquan Smith, Georgia
Vita Vea, Washington
James Washington, Oklahoma State
Christian Wilkins, Clemson