Gainer, Johnson named to Lombardi Award watch list

Florida State placed two on the Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List as linebacker Amari Gainer and defensive end Jermaine Johnson II were both included among the best linemen and linebackers in America, it was announced Thursday.

Gainer, who has also been named to watch lists for the Bednarik Award and Butkus Award, has appeared in 26 games and recorded 134 tackles, including 12.0 for loss with 4.0 sacks, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in his career. The redshirt sophomore from Tallahassee led FSU with 65 tackles last season and also made 5.0 for loss with 0.5 sack, one forced fumble and three quarterback hurries. His tackles production was paced by three double-digit tackle games, including a career-high 12 stops at North Carolina State. He recorded 11 tackles with one forced fumble at No. 5 Notre Dame and also made 10 tackles, including a career-high-tying 2.5 for loss, in the season opener against Georgia Tech. Gainer has been named to the ACC Honor Roll each of the past two years.

Johnson played two years at Georgia before transferring to Florida State for his final season of eligibility. The Eden Prairie, Minn., native appeared in 21 games over the past two seasons for the Bulldogs and totaled 36 tackles, including 8.0 for loss with 7.5 sacks, 24 quarterback pressures, one forced fumble and two pass breakups. In 2020, he registered 5.0 sacks and 11 quarterback pressures over seven games and posted a career-high four tackles against No. 2 Alabama. In 2019, he played all 14 games and made 20 tackles, 3.0 for loss with 2.5 sacks, and 13 quarterback pressures.

The Lombardi Award was established in 1970 and is named for NFL Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi. FSU has two Lombardi Award winners in its history, courtesy of inside linebacker Marvin Jones in 1992 and defensive end Jamal Reynolds in 2000. Florida State is one of only three ACC programs with multiple defensive players on the 2021 watch list.

Florida State has 12 representatives on 10 national award watch lists released so far in 2021. In addition to Gainer’s three watch lists and Johnson’s inclusion on the Lombardi Award Watch List, quarterback McKenzie Milton is on watch lists for the Maxwell Award, Davey O’Brien Award and CFPA National Performer of the Year, while tight end Camren McDonald is on watch lists for the Mackey Award, AFCA Good Works Team and Wuerffel Trophy, and running backs Jashaun Corbin and Lawrance Toafili are on the Doak Walker Award Watch List.