SOURCE: Butkus Foundation

Butkus Foundation

July 12, 2016 09:00 ET

Butkus Award® 32nd Season Watch Lists Announced

CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwired - July 12, 2016) - The 32nd annual Butkus Award® honoring the nation's best linebackers kicked off its 2016 selection process today by announcing its collegiate and high school pre-season watch lists.

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 who will be reviewed by a 51-person selection panel of deeply experienced coaches, talent evaluators and journalists who vote by private ballot. Appearance on the watch list is not required to become a semi-finalist.

The Collegiate Butkus Award watch list includes candidates from 44 universities. It includes one returning finalist, Raekwon McMillan of Ohio State, who won the 2013 national high school Butkus Award.

The High School Butkus Award watch list includes candidates from 17 states, with Florida (8), Georgia (7), Texas (6), Alabama (5) and California (5) producing the most candidates.

Semi-finalists will be named October 31, finalists November 21, and winners will be notified on or before December 6. The Pro Butkus Award winner will be announced in early 2017.

The 2015 Butkus Award winners:

  • Professional: Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers
  • Collegiate: Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame (now Dallas Cowboys)
  • High School: Caleb Kelly, Clovis West, Calif. (now Oklahoma)

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. More information is available at

The Butkus Award, and on Facebook at 51.butkus, is presented by the Butkus Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization. The Butkus Award is part of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) which includes the 22 most prestigious awards in college football with 722 years of selection excellence. Visit for more information.

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