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Toiling under the alter of expectation can be daunting. Difficult. Discouraging. Perhaps depressing. Many a man has faltered under the weight of living up’ to a perceived pre-destiny of greatness. And all have heard the crushing adage, “Giants beget Midgets”.

Following in the footsteps of parental success is often a minefield with the younger generation looking to avoid being blown up and away before finding their own way.

In Charlottesville, Virginia, however, that mantle of achievement has seemingly been passed along as easily as a family recipe.

It is here that Christopher Howard Long, Virginia’s captain and star defensive end, is building his own football resume to hang on the family tree next to dad Howie, the Hall of Famer from his NFL days with the Raiders.

And make no mistake about it, Long No. 2 can strap it on and play with the best of them.

“He’s unbelievable,” says former Virginia Coach George Welsh. “His motor runs just like his dad’s did. He’s relentless. He’s all over the field.”

Current Cavalier Coach Al Groh also gushes over Long: “”He possesses many great attributes, but the one that impresses me most is his commitment to putting our team first in all of his activities. He is very focused on doing whatever it takes to improve the team and help us win. His motivation is very simple. He is fueled by a sense of accomplishment.”

And he is accomplishing. With six sacks in Virginia’s first five games (the Cavs are off to a solid 4-1 start), Long is among the nation’s leaders in that category. He’s also been credited with 5 pass breakups and 6 quarterback hurries plus an interception that he returned 25 yards.

It all adds up to Long being on the watch list for The Lott Trophy. Named after Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott, the Lott Trophy goes to the outstanding college defensive player of the year 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. It represents the first college football trophy to give equal weight to personal character as well as athletic performance. Lott and Howie Long were teammates with the Raiders in 1991 and 1992.

“Nothing speaks more about Chris than the fact our players have elected him a team captain for both his junior and senior campaigns a rare honor at Virginia,” says Groh.

“He is the rare player who has the ability to change the course of his game and his work ethic in all of these areas has been an inspiration to the other players on the our team. His actions, attitude and commitment to being the best helps to make him an outstanding leader on our team,” Groh continues.

It is Long’s dedication and work ethic that is constantly championed by his coaches.

John Blake coached him at St. Anne’s-Belfield School in Charlottesville. “He is the hardest working athlete I have been around in my 35 years of playing and coaching. His hard work makes him one of the best football players in every game he plays, but he is also one of those special people who is a great person, teammate, leader and friend. He is absolutely great with people. He is humble but not shy and will always engage with anyone who just wants to meet him.

“In this day and age when every time one opens a paper and there is an article about an athlete doing something wrong it is refreshing to know a great athlete who knows how to do it right. I’m glad that I have the opportunity to know Chris, but I can’t put into words how I feel about the fact that my two sons have the opportunity to know such a great young man and role model.”

A sociology major, Long will graduate in the spring, about the same time the National Football League holds its annual draft. It is unlikely his sociology career will be given much of a chance after that.

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The four finalists for The Lott Trophy will be flown to Newport Beach , CA. for the banquet . The university of the winner will receive $25,000 for its general scholarship fund while the three universities of the runnerups will receive $5,000 each for their general scholarship fund.

Voters for The Lott Trophy are college offensive and defensive coordinators, former head coaches who make up the Master Coaches, the Board of Directors of The Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation, The Lott Trophy Board of Advisors and selected members of the national media.

The Dec. 9 black-tie banquet at The Pacific Club, already sold out for the fourth consecutive year, will be televised live by Fox Sports. Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen will receive The Lott Trophy Lifetime IMPACT Award. There will also be a video tribute to the late Bill Walsh, a founding member of the Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation Board of Directors .

For additional information on The Lott Trophy, go to:

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