College football preseason award watch lists often are derided because of their all-inclusive nature.
The Rotary Lombardi Award list had a whopping 123 players.
Georgia inside linebacker Amarlo Herrera would have seemed to be a cinch to show up on that list for nation’s top linemen or linebackers or one of the other award lists since he’s a senior coming off a year in which he had the third most tackles (112) in the SEC.
Yet he won’t be found on the 81-player Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list, or the 76-man Bednarik Award list for top defensive player, or the 51-player Butkus Award list for top linebacker.
He’s the odd man out during a summer when Bulldog linebackers Ramik Wilson, Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins dotted several lists.
“I feel like a lot of people really are sleeping on Amarlo,” Floyd said. “I feel like he’s a great player. He knows the defense in and out. He can tell everybody what to do. I feel like people don’t look at that, but he’s going to show people this year, I know he will. We know he’s going to use what people say as motivation and he’s going to shock a lot of people this year.”
Added Jenkins: “I don’t know why people are slacking off on Amarlo. I feel like that’s only going to make him so much better because he’s going to play with a chip on his shoulder.”
Maybe so, but Herrera wasn’t in the mood to voice that sentiment.
“I don’t really take that too much at heart,” Herrera said. “I know I’m going to work hard every day and bust my tail every day and show everybody around me what I can do.”
Those inside the program know what he brings, he said.
“Nobody around here really cares about it,” Herrera said “They know what I do and what I do for this team so nobody around here says anything.”
“He sacrifices his body, he goes hard,” Jenkins said. “I felt he got wronged on some of those watch lists.”
The 6-foot-2 Herrera slimmed down since spring practice, dropping 13 pounds to get to 231 — about five pounds more than when he reported to Georgia.
“A lot of people noticed,” he said of those that he runs across on campus. “When you cut out some things that you used to eat and drink, you’re going to feel better, your body’s going to feel a lot better.”
Herrera expects that will translate to the games.
“You’re carrying less weight so that means less pressure on your knee so you can run faster and stuff and that prevents a lot of injuries,” Herrera said. “I can play faster and play longer.”
Herrera isn’t getting entirely overlooked. NFL.com named Herrera and Wilson the best linebacker tandem in the SEC “taking into account both college production and pro potential.”
Those decision makers on the next level are the ones Herrera does want to impress.
“I’ve got something to prove every time I touch the field,” he said, “and that’s something I’ve been doing since I’ve been here. I’ve proven what I can do every time I’m on the field and I just let that talk for itself.”