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Michigan State's Xavier Henderson named to Lott Trophy watchlist

The leader of the Spartans' defense is garnering national attention...

Michigan State fifth-year senior safety Xavier Henderson was one of 42 players named to the 2022 preseason watchlist for the Lott Trophy.

Named after former NFL Hall of Fame star Ronnie Lott, The Lott Trophy annually goes to the Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year, a player who has had the biggest impact on his team both on and off the field. IMPACT stands for Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity, all characteristics exhibited by Lott during his illustrious playing career.

The annual winner is selected by a national voter panel, consisting of former winners, members of the media, coaches and members of the Board of Directors of The IMPACT Foundation.

The Lott IMPACT Trophy is the only major college football award that considers character.

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Given those parameters, it's not hard to see why Henderson made this preseason watchlist. The senior was the only Spartans to serve as a captain for all 13 games last season, and was the undeniable leader of Michigan State's defense in 2021.

Henderson set a career-high in tackles last season with 96, which was tied for the team lead. He added an interception, a forced fumble and three pass breakups for the Spartans. Henderson was named third team All-Big Ten by the conference's media, and was an honorable mention selection by the Big Ten's coaches.

Although Henderson is already a four-year letterwinner at Michigan State, he took advantage of the COVID-19 waiver to return for a fifth season in East Lansing.

Over the course of 46 career games, including 33 consecutive starts at safety, Henderson has tallied 235 total tackles, including 13.5 for loss and three sacks. He's added three interceptions, eight pass breakups and two forced fumbles to his career totals.