Paul Posluszny: Once a thief, always a thief
Okay, so maybe that's a bit harsh of a title, especially considering it really isn't up to Posluszny, but I honestly have no idea who is in charge of deciding who gains consideration for the major postseason awards.
As most Buckeye fans remember, Posluszny beat out AJ Hawk for the Dick Butkus award, which names the best collegiate linebacker in America. The stats were all obviously in Hawk's favor, Hawk was the captain of one of the nation's best defenses, and he also dominated every aspect of the game, whether it be stopping the run or in pass coverage. The only thing Posluszny had going for him that season was that he played on a better team, and in their head-to-head matchup, he came out the victor (Both in final score and in the stat column). After Posluszny won the award, he even admitted that he didn't deserve it and that Hawk was the far superior linebacker.
Well, as much of an embarassment that that was last season, the guys in charge of the Lombardi Award (whether these are the same people is beyond me) managed to put it to shame. The 12 semi-finalists for the Rotari Lombardi award were recently named, and of those 12, James Laurinaitis is nowhere to be found as Posluszny is sitting pretty. As angered as I was last after last season, now I am absolutely outraged. I have no idea how the "college football experts" that make these decisions can even look themselves in the mirrors in the morning. I can only conclude that this is a direct result of two things: Preseason hype and an inability to judge just how good a defender is. "Poz" came into the season as the nation's top returning linebacker, thus creating sky-high expectations. What many people seemed to have forgotten, though, is that Posluszny tore a knee ligament in last season's Orange Bowl, which was a huge step back in his progression as a player (as is the case with most athletes). So far this season, Posluszny has brought next to nothing to the Penn State defense. His injury has made him relatively stale-footed and immobile. And although he has made some significant progress to returning to All-American form, he is still far removed from the player that he was last season.
Does James Laurinaitis deserve to be a semi-finalist? Well, that is all based on your opinion. Compared to Posluszny, Laurinaitis is superior in every statistical category. Another player that many would consider to be more deserving than Posluszny is his teammate, Dan Connor. Connor has been an absolute beast all season long, and has established himself as one of the best linebackers in the nation this season. I am glad to see that Quinn Pitcock made the list. He's been one of the best defensive tackles in the nation this season.