Nov. 1—CHAMPAIGN — Illinois defensive tackle Johnny Newton was named one of 12 semifinalists for the Lombardi Award on Wednesday. Newton has racked up 35 tackles, 4 1/2 tackles for loss, 3 1/2 sacks, two pass breakups and a forced fumble this season.
But those are just the typical statistics counted. The 6-foot-2, 295-pound Newton, who was both a preseason All-American and midseason All-American, has been one of the most disruptive interior defensive linemen in the country this season.
Newton is tied for the national lead in quarterback pressures among defensive tackles with 31, according to Pro Football Focus. He has played more snaps than any other Power Five defensive tackle in the country, averaging just more than 62 per game.
Newton's 31 quarterback pressures are eight more than his closest Big Ten defensive tackle competitor, with Ohio State's Michael Hall Jr.'s 23. Newton has also contributed on special teams. The St. Petersburg, Fla., native is tied for the national lead with two blocked kicks — a blocked field goal against Penn State and a blocked extra point at Purdue.
Newton is the only defensive tackle among the 12 Lombardi Award semifinalists. The rest of the list includes Notre Dame tackle Joe Alt, Kansas State guard Cooper Beebe, Georgia tight end Brock Bowers, Utah defensive end Jonah Elliss, Penn State tackle Olu Fashanu, Oregon State tackle Taliese Fuaga, UCLA defensive end Laiatu Latu, Oklahoma linebacker Danny Stutsman, Alabama edge Dallas Turner, Florida State edge Jared Verse and Michigan guard Zak Zinter.
Illinois will return to action after last week's bye with a 2:30 p.m. Saturday game at Minnesota. Newton will sit out the first half after being ejected for targeting in the second half of the Illini's Oct. 21 home loss to Wisconsin.