BYU, UCLA, Notre Dame lead way with three honorees to Butkus Award watch list

(Photo by Mark A Philbrick/BYU Photo)

Cougars Kyle Van Noy, Spencer Hadley and Uani 'Unga named to list recognizing the nation's best linebackers 

PROVO, Utah (July 15, 2013) – The 29th annual Butkus Award® selection process to honor the nation’s best linebackers began today with announcement of the collegiate and high school pre-season watch list. BYU and UCLA top the collegiate list with three players being named to the 2013 Butkus Award watch list.

BYU seniors Kyle Van Noy, Spencer Hadley and Uani ‘Unga earned selection to highlight a strong linebacking corp for the Cougars heading into the 2013 season. UCLA picks included Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks and Jordan Zumwalt. Carlo Calabrese, Dan Fox and Prince Shembo represent Notre Dame on the list.

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.  Players who do not appear on the watch list may be considered for the Award.

BYU’s Van Noy returns for his final season after an All-American campaign in 2012, finishing tied for second in the nation in sacks (13) and forced fumbles (6) and ranking No. 4 in tackles for loss (22). Hadley started opposite Van Noy at the strong-side position, adding nine tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks, while ‘Unga became a strong contributor at middle linebacker for BYU after transferring from Oregon State, helping the Cougars rank No. 3 overall in total defense in 2012.

The Collegiate Butkus Award watch list includes 51 candidates from 37 universities. C.J. Mosley of Alabama is the only returning finalist, along with returning semi-finalists Jonathan Brown of Illinois, Max Bullough of Michigan State and Trent Murphy of Stanford.

The High School Butkus Award watch list includes 51 candidates from 51 high schools across 15 states.  States with the most prep players include Texas (8), Florida (7), Alabama (6) and Ohio (6).

Semi-finalists will be named October 28, finalists November 26, and winners will be notified on or before December 10.  The Pro Butkus Award winner will be announced in January 2014.

2012 Butkus Award winners:

·       Professional: Von Miller, Denver Broncos.

·       Collegiate: Manti Te’o, Notre Dame, now San Diego Chargers.

·       High School:  Jaylon Smith, Bishop Luers, Fort Wayne, Ind., now Notre Dame.

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 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. The Butkus Award is part of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) which includes the 21 most prestigious awards in college football with 678 years of selection excellence. Visit www.NCFAA.org for more information.

2013 Butkus Award (collegiate watch list)