The bond between the two men began in Tuscaloosa, Alabama; it was honored in Newport Beach, California; and it will reunite in Houston, Texas.
It’s the story of two men, superior athletes tied in multiple ways, now joined with a common goal.
DeMeco Ryans, the All-American linebacker from Alabama and the winner of the 2005 Lott IMPACT Trophy, is the new head coach of the Houston Texans.
Will Anderson, Jr, the All-American linebacker from Alabama and the winner of the 2022 Lott IMPACT Trophy, is Ryans’ prize defensive catch in this year’s NFL Draft.
Anderson was the third overall pick in the draft and is expected to be the centerpiece of a unit that Ryans hopes to bring the Texans back into playoff position.
Houston fans are in for a treat. You don’t win the Newport Beach-based Lott IMPACT Trophy unless you are a man of character. IMPACT is Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity – traits the new Texans’ head coach and his new linebacker share in abundance.
Anderson was actually Houston’s second pick in the draft after quarterback CJ Stroud (Ohio State) was the second overall selection.
The only other time in NFL history when one franchise held both the second and third overall selections was back in 1962 when the Los Angeles Rams picked Quarterback Roman Gabriel from North Carolina State with the second pick and Defensive Tackle Merlin Olsen from Utah State with the third pick. That one worked out sensationally as Gabriel was the Ram starter for a decade and Olsen became one of the most decorated defensive lineman in history. For the Lott Trophy, it marked the second straight year that the winner of the award was drafted in the first three rounds – Aiden Hutchinson of Michigan was a second round pick by the Lions in 2022.
Four of the last five Lott Trophy winners have been selected in the Top 10 of the NFL draft and overall, in 19 years, the Lott winner has been a first-round pick 11 times.
Two of the Lott 2022 finalists were also picked early with Defensive End Felix Anudike-Uzomah of Kansas State going in the first round (31st overall) to the Kansas City Chiefs and Defensive End Tuli Tuipulotu of USC going to the Chargers in the second round.
The other Lott finalist in 2022, Tommy Eichenberg, has returned to Ohio State for his senior season.