By Shan Reddy
The Pacific IMPACT Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to recognizing and supporting national charities serving America’s youth, announced its 42-member Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch List this past Thursday; the alphabetically sorted list was headlined by Stanford senior cornerback Paulson Adebo.
This coming season will be the 17th year in the Lott IMPACT trophy’s history, originally named in the honor of Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive back Ronnie Lott; the acronym “IMPACT” stands for integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community and tenacity. The award is given to the best college football defensive player each season, recognizing both the player’s personal character as well as athletic excellence. Last year’s winner, Derrick Brown, was selected in April 2020’s NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers with their seventh overall pick in the first round.
This year’s watchlist includes 16 linebackers, 15 defensive backs and 11 defensive lineman from a total of 41 different schools. The Pac-12 has the third-most nominees by conference with eight, following the Big Ten and ACC’s nine.
No Stanford player has ever won the award, though it has remained in the Pac-12 for much of its history. Cal’s Dante Hughes and UCLA’s Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks won the award in 2006, 2013 and 2014, respectively.
Before the 2019 season, Adebo was considered a fringe first-round candidate for this year’s 2020 NFL Draft; Stanford coach David Shaw told ESPN analyst Todd McShay over broadcast back in September that “there’s no chance we’re bringing [Adebo] back.” However, a few rough outings over the course of the year led his stock to fall, and may have ultimately influenced his decision to stay in school for his senior season.
Adebo has shown flashes of star potential, however, which voters from the Pacific IMPACT Foundation clearly recognized. He was named to the All-Pac-12 First Team in each of the past two seasons, and has racked up eight interceptions in that time.
Contact Shan Reddy at rsreddy ‘at’ stanford.edu.