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Butkus Award® 34th Season Watch Lists Announced


CHICAGO, July 23, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Butkus Award® honoring the nation's best linebackers kicked off its 34th annual selection process today by announcing its collegiate and high school pre-season watch lists.

Each watch list contains 51 linebackers, mirroring the legendary "51" pro jersey associated with the Award's namesake Dick Butkus, who was recognized by NFL Films as the best defensive player in football history.

The Collegiate Butkus Award watch list includes candidates from 41 universities, including returning finalists Devin Bush of Michigan and T.J. Edwards of Wisconsin, and returning semi-finalists Josh Allen of Kentucky and Cameron Smith of USC. Also making the watch list are past national high school Butkus Award winners Caleb Kelly (2015) of Oklahoma and Dylan Moses (2016) of Alabama.

The High School Butkus Award watch list includes candidates from 46 secondary schools across 19 states. Florida (10), California (7) and Ohio (6) produced the most candidates.

The 51-person selection committee noted that Terrell Lewis of Alabama and Mase Funa of Mater Dei High School in California would have been included were it not for injuries.

Semi-finalists will be named October 29, finalists November 19, and winners will be notified on or before December 4. The 2017 Butkus Award winners:

  • Collegiate: Roquan Smith, Georgia (now Chicago Bears)
  • High School: Solomon Tuliaupupu, Mater Dei, Santa Ana, Calif. (now USC)

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 without resorting to performance-enhancing drugs.

The Butkus Award, and on Facebook at 51.butkus, is presented by the nonprofit Butkus Foundation. Selectors and selection criteria is located on the official website. Search social media for #butkusaward2018.

The Butkus Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) which encompasses college football's most prestigious awards. Its member-awards have honored more than 800 since 1935. Visit for more information.

Contact: Ron Arp

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