SOURCE: Butkus Foundation

Butkus Foundation

July 15, 2011 13:54 ET

Butkus Award® 27th Season Watch Lists Announced

CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwire - Jul 15, 2011) - The 27th annual collegiate Butkus Award® selection process to identify the best linebackers in the country begins today with announcement of the pre-season watch list for both the collegiate and high school levels.

Each watch list contains 51 candidates, honoring the now-retired professional jersey number of Dick Butkus, who is regarded by NFL Films as the best defensive player in football history. The selection panel is comprised of 51 coaches, evaluators and journalists, coordinated by Hub Arkush of Pro Football Weekly.

The Collegiate Butkus Award watch list includes 51 candidates from 40 universities across 10 conferences. Luke Kuechly of Boston College is the only returning finalist. Returning semi-finalists include: Dont'a Hightower of Alabama, Sean Spence of Miami (Fla.), Travis Lewis of Oklahoma, Keenan Robinson of Texas, and Manti Te'o of Notre Dame.

The High School Butkus Award watch list includes 51 candidates from 49 high schools across 19 states. The Butkus Award for high schools is in its fourth year, with previous honorees playing at Notre Dame (Manti Te'o), Texas (Jordan Hicks) and Clemson (Tony Steward).

Semi-finalists will be named October 24, finalists November 22, and winners will be notified on or before December 7. The Professional award will be announced in January 2012. Candidates in addition to those appearing on the watch list may be considered for the Award.

Last season's Butkus Award winners included: Clay Matthews, Super Bowl-winning Green Bay Packers; Von Miller of Texas A&M University and #2 overall NFL draft pick; and Tony Steward of St. Augustine, Fla., who is on scholarship at Clemson.

The 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 steroids and related drugs. More information is available at www.iplayclean.org or at www.facebook.com/i.play.clean.

The Butkus Award, www.thebutkusaward.com or www.facebook.com/51.butkus, is presented by the Butkus Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization. It is part of the National College Football Awards Association, a coalition of the major collegiate awards. More information is available at www.NCFAA.org.

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