Pitt defensive end Deslin Alexandre earned a spot on the Lott IMPACT Trophy watch list on Tuesday. The award is intended to honor the defensive college football player considered to have the best combination of personal character and athletic excellence.
The 2021 watch list consists of 42 players, and it was revealed at a luncheon at the Pacific Club in Newport Beach, California. Forty-two players are placed on the watch list annually in honor of the namesake of the award, former San Francisco 49ers safety Ronnie Lott, who wore No. 42 during his 14-year NFL career.
Alexandre is one of eight ACC players included on the watch list. The others include Clemson defensive backs Andrew Booth and Noah Turner, Duke linebacker Shaka Heyward, Miami safety Bubba Bolden, Virginia Tech defensive back Chamarri Conner, Virginia linebacker Nick Jackson and Wake Forest linebacker Nick Anderson. However, the award has existed since 2004, and only one ACC player has ever earned the honor. That was Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly in 2011.
The rationale provided for Alexandre’s placement on the watch list was that he was that he was a two-time All-ACC academic selection. But after a 2020 season spent largely as a reserve, many may have forgotten that he is also a disruptive pass-rusher, and he is poised to make a name for himself in 2021.
In his last season as a starter, which was 2019, Alexandre racked up 10.5 tackles for losses and 5.5 sacks in a breakout year. That season, the 6’4”, 280-pound lineman served as a complement to future NFL draft picks Patrick Jones II and Jaylen Twyman, and even with them posting 23.5 tackles for losses and 19 sacks, he was able to come up with big plays.
Last season, Alexandre only started two games, but he was still able to tally three sacks and 6.5 tackles for losses. And in 2021, he is likely to reclaim a starting role with Patrick Jones II and Rashad Weaver now in the NFL. Given his track record of success and Pitt's penchant for rapidly developing defensive linemen in recent years, Alexandre is likely to justify his placement on the list and may well prove to be a savvy selection.
The Lott IMPACT Trophy will be awarded in December, and the winner of the trophy will receive $25,000 for their school’s general scholarship fund. Last year’s winner was Northwestern linebacker Paddy Fisher, who now plays for the Carolina Panthers.