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Four Lombardi finalists present for award

HOUSTON (AP) _ Losing to Oklahoma put Texas defensive end Cory Redding in a bad mood.

``After the OU game it was frustration, it was anger, it was all kinds of mixed emotions,'' Redding said Tuesday. ``I had few words that week for the press, myself, my family, teammates or anybody.

``I just wanted to go out the next week and see that we bounce back and finish out the season on the right note.''

Redding, who led the Longhorns by example, is among the finalists for the Lombardi Award to be presented Wednesday night to the nation's top collegiate lineman. The other finalists are Oklahoma defensive tackle Tommie Harris, Maryland linebacker E. J. Henderson and Arizona State defensive end Terrell Suggs.

In the final seven games of the season beginning with Oklahoma, Redding had 37 tackles, including 18 tackles for losses, 7 1-2 sacks and 19 quarterback pressures.

``The guys were ready to fight back and take pride in what they believed, even though we had a loss or two,'' Redding said.

Texas defensive coordinator Carl Reese was delighted with his senior defensive end's performance following the Horns' 35-24 loss to Oklahoma on Oct. 12.

``Sacks run in cycles, no matter what you do,'' Reese said. ``When you forget about it and start playing the game, the sacks start coming. He just kept playing and the sacks started coming. Thank goodness they did because we needed them.''

Texas' 10-2 finish got them a date with LSU in the Cotton Bowl.

Harris playfully joked with Redding on Tuesday about the Sooners' victory over the Longhorns, but Oklahoma had its sad days too, losing to Texas A&M and to in-state rival Oklahoma State.

The Sooners rebounded to beat Colorado in the Big 12 championship game and earned a spot in the Rose Bowl for at least a consolation prize.

``I really didn't care what bowl we went to after we lost to Oklahoma State,'' Harris said. ``If it wasn't the Fiesta Bowl, then I didn't care where we went. It hurt when we lost to A&M, but we still had a shot at the Fiesta if Miami lost.

``But then we lost to Oklahoma State.''

Redding and Harris will get competition for the Lombardi Award from Suggs, who set an NCAA sack record with 22 last season and Henderson, the leading tackler for Maryland the past three years.

``I don't know where those sacks came from last year,'' Suggs said. ``I was just out there trying to win and I thought if their offense couldn't score we had a great chance to win.

``The sacks kind of snuck up on me. One minute it was seven and the next it was 10 and at the end of the season it was 22. I was shocked myself.''

Henderson credited his front line and the Terrapins' defense with allowing him to make so many tackles.

``I think our defense is set up so our linebackers can run and make a lot of plays,'' Henderson said. ``I think I have to give a lot of credit to my front four for keeping the guys off of me. It let us linebackers run around and make plays.''
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