The Butkus Award, given annually to the top linebacker since 1985, released its watch list Monday and nine from the SEC made the initial list with Alabama inside linebacker C.J. Mosley the early frontrunner for the award.
Here are the rest of the SEC linebackers to make the list:
Adrian Hubbard and Mosley, Alabama
Jordan Jenkins, Georgia
Avery Williamson, Kentucky
Lamin Barrow, LSU
Benardrick McKinney and Deontae Skinner, Mississippi State
D.T. Shackelford, Ole Miss
A.J. Johnson, Tennessee
If the award goes to an SEC player, my prediction is Mosley who is the leader of the Crimson Tide defense and had 107 tackles last season with eight for loss and four sacks. Mosley is equally adept at defending the run game as he is the pass game and rarely comes off the field. He returned for his senior season after being a potential first round pick, but after this season he should be among the first linebackers taken in the 2014 draft.
The SEC has claimed three Butkus award winners since the award’s inception in 1985 with two of the three winners hailing from Alabama, including the most recent winner, Rolando McClain, in 2009. The other representative from the conference was Ole Miss middle linebacker Patrick Willis who won in 2006 before embarking on a standout NFL career.
Former Notre Dame middle linebacker Manti Te’o won the award last year named after former Chicago Bears and Illinois middle linebacker Dick Butkus who is in the college and pro football Halls of Fame. Butkus finished third in the Heisman trophy voting as a senior one year after finishing sixth as a junior and ended his college career with 374 tackles as a unanimous selection to two All-American Teams.