Bruschi loses in bid for Lombardi

From staff and wire reports

HOUSTON — Tedy Bruschi, the Arizona football team’s No. 1 defensive end, came up short last night in his bid for the Lombardi Award, given to the nation’s top lineman.

Receiving it instead was Warren Sapp, a defensive end at Miami. Sapp, a 6-foot-3, 284-pound junior, became the first member of the Hurricanes to win the award.

The other two finalists were Nebraska offensive tackle Zach Wiegert and Florida State linebacker Derrick Brooks.

Bruschi was an integral part of the Wildcats’ nationally regarded Desert Swarm defense this season, a defense which allowed only 65.3 yards per game in 1994. Only a junior, he finished the season with 39 total tackles (29 unassisted and 10 assisted), 15 of which were tackles for losses that amounted to 85 yards. He also recorded 10 sacks for -65 yards, four fumble recoveries, one fumble caused and two deflected passes. Arizona (8-3) faces 9-2 Utah in the Dec. 27 Freedom Bowl.

As for Sapp, his season statistics were as follows: 84 tackles, 10.5 sacks for 62 yards in losses, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and 25 quarterback pressures. His Hurricanes (10-1) will play No. 1 Nebraska (12-0) in the Orange Bowl Jan. 1.

Sapp was the leader on a Miami team that led the nation in total defense this season, holding opponents to 220.9 yards per game. Now he must consider whether or not to make the jump to the NFL.

“I don’t want to brag on him too much, I’ve love to have him around for his senior year,” Coach Dennis Erickson said. “And, I wouldn’t be surprised if he decided to stay.

“There are a lot of rumors that he might be the first one picked and certainly in the first three or four,” Erickson said. “It’s something that Warren will have to look at and decide. He’s as good as I’ve been around in six years at Miami.”

Sapp was the third Miami lineman to be nominated for the Lombardi Award. The others were Jerome Brown in 1986 and Russell Maryland in 1990.

“Warren is a combination of Cortez and Russell,” Erickson said. “Cortez was 320 pounds and had more power. Russell just ran around making plays at the line of scrimmage.

“But Warren is a combination of the two and he is also the fastest.”

Brooks became the first repeat finalist not to win the award among the last four repeaters.

Ohio State’s Chris Spielman (1987), Auburn’s Tracy Rocker (1988), Notre Dame’s Chris Zorich (1990) and Florida State’s Marvin Jones (1992) each won the award after being a finalist the previous year.

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