On the Watch List: Onwuzurike Considered for Lott IMPACT Trophy

Mike Martin

Washington senior defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike has been named to the Lott IMPACT Trophy preseason watch list, drawing consideration for an honor that gives equal weight to personal character as well as athletic performance. 

He is the first of a handful of Huskies, among them defensive backs Elijah Molden and Trent McDuffie, who could gain preseason exposure for other awards. 

The Lott IMPACT Trophy was named in honor of Ronnie Lott, a two time All-American safety for USC and College Football Hall of Fame Inductee. 

Lott went on to win four Super Bowl rings with the San Francisco 49ers, make 10 trips to the Pro Bowl and earn a spot in Pro Football’s Hall of Fame. He was a leader on and off the field and strives to exemplify character in his personal life.

From LottImpactTrophy.org

LEVI ONWUZURIKE, Washington, DE, 6-3, 293, Allen,mTexas: CoSIDA Academic All-American District 8; Twice Academic All-Pac-12, Washington Lineman of the Year in 2019; All-Pac-12 first team; 16 career tackles for losses.

Onwuzurike has received multiple academic All-Pac-12 Conference awards.  

Following the 2019 season, Phil Steele recognized the Texas native as an honorable mention All-American and the Pac-12 named him to the first team of its Pac-12 all-conference selections.

Dan Raley, college football analyst for Husky Maven/Sports Illustrated, had this to say about Onwuzurike:

GRADE (1 to 5): Levi gets a strong 5. First-team All-Pac-12 as a junior. Drawing All-America attention entering his senior season. He's an exceptional player and tailored for the NFL.

Despite being rated by some as a first-round draft pick, the redshirt senior spurned the NFL to return for his senior season to refine his game and improve his draft stock.  

The following is from TheDraftNetwork.com:

Great agility for the interior and has the hand usage to capitalize. Regularly hits spins, swims, and arm overs on the interior to generate rush angles -- though frequently alignment at 0-technique limits the effectiveness of this strength. Uses good length well to keep frame outside of opponent's reach when slow-playing the rush, but has the stride length and agility to immediately threaten half-man at any moment. Has nice spatial awareness of help blockers arriving and can anticipate rush lanes accordingly. Awareness also shines as a run defender -- is tough to trap or wash down through angles, given ability to slip by blocks with good flexibility and quickness.

Known for his drive and energy when he arrived on Montlake from Allen, Texas in the 2016 recruiting class, Onwuzurike was a four-star player and the nation's 23rd highest-rated defensive end. 

Heading into his final season at the UW, Onwuzurike is rated as the No. 2 defensive tackle in the country, according to ESPN.

In 2019, Pro Football Focus noted that Onwuzurike played both defensive end and defensive tackle, and it gave him a top 10 grade at each position.  

Overall, he's rated as PFF's fifth-best returning defender in the conference.

Fun Fact:  Onwuzurike wears the number 95 and has 95 career tackles.