CHICAGO — The Butkus Award honoring the nation’s best linebackers kicked off its 33rd annual selection process Monday by announcing its collegiate preseason watch list.
Mirroring the legendary “51” pro jersey of the award’s namesake Dick Butkus, whom NFL Films considers the best defensive player in football history, each watch list features 51 players identified by a 51-person selection panel of deeply experienced coaches, talent evaluators and journalists. Appearance on the watch list is not required to become a winner.
The Collegiate Butkus Award watch list includes candidates from 42 universities, including six returning semifinalists and one returning finalist, Josey Jewell of Iowa.
The High School Butkus Award watch list includes candidates from 50 secondary schools across 23 states. Florida (seven), California (six) and Ohio (five) claim the most candidates among states.
Semifinalists will be named Oct. 30, finalists on Nov. 20 and winners will be notified on or before Dec. 5. The professional winner will be announced in early 2018.
The 2016 Butkus Award winners:
Professional: Khalil Mack, Oakland Raiders
Collegiate: Reuben Foster, Alabama (now San Francisco 49ers)
High school: Dylan Moses, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla. (now Alabama)
Formed in 1985, the Butkus Award was expanded in 2008 to honor linebackers at three levels while helping spread the word about Butkus’ I Play Clean initiative which encourages teens to eat well, train hard, and play with attitude instead of resorting to performance-enhancing drugs.
The Butkus Award, www.thebutkusaward.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/51.butkus, is presented by the Butkus Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization. Selection criteria is located on the official website. The Butkus Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) which encompasses college football’s most prestigious awards. Its 23 awards have honored more than 800 people since 1935. Visit www.NCFAA.org for more information.
|Genard Avery, Memphis||Jerome Baker, Ohio State|
|Davin Bellamy, Georgia||Keishawn Bierria, Washington|
|Eric Boggs, Appalachian State||Oren Burks, Vanderbilt|
|Jason Cabinda, Penn State||Lorenzo Carter, Georgia|
|Jermaine Carter, Maryland||Jack Cichy, Wisconsin|
|Koron Crump, Arizona State||Nick DeLuca, North Dakota State|
|Devante Downs, California||Tremaine Edwards, Virginia Tech|
|T.J. Edwards, Wisconsin||Rashaan Evans, Alabama|
|DeMarquis Gates, Mississippi||Dre Greenlaw, Arkansas|
|Shaquem Griffin, UCF||Porter Gustin, USC|
|Shaun Dion Hamilton, Alabama||James Hearns, Louisville|
|Manase Hungalu, Oregon State||Malik Jefferson, Texas|
|Josey Jewell, Iowa||Jordan Jones, Kentucky|
|Kendall Joseph, Clemson||Junior Joseph, Connecticut|
|Peter Kalambayi, Stanford||Arden Key, LSU|
|Micah Kiser, Virginia||Darius Leonard, South Carolina State|
|Mike McCray, Michigan||Skai Moore, South Carolina|
|Airius Moore, North Carolina State||Nyles Morgan, Notre Dame|
|Uchenna Nwosu, USC||Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Oklahoma|
|D.J. Palmore, Navy||Jacob Pugh, Florida State|
|Shaquille Quarterman, Miami (Fla.)||Tegray Scales, Indiana|
|Cameron Smith, USC||Sione Teuhema, Southeastern Louisiana|
|Matthew Thomas, Florida State||Azeem Victor, Washington|
|Fred Warner, BYU||Tre' Williams, Auburn|
|Chris Worley, Ohio State||Trevon Young, Louisville|
|Kenny Young, UCLA|