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High School Butkus Award Finalists Announced

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Five Butkus Award Finalists Announced

Butkus Award
Notre Dame's Manti Te'o received first high school Butkus Award. Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE

When you think of menacing, tough old-school linebackers that played in the NFL many names come to mind. One that is common among all discussions is former Chicago Bears great Dick Butkus. An award is named in his honor, the Butkus Award, recognizing the top linebacker in the country at the high school, collegiate and professional level. Recently five finalists were named for the high school award.

Since 1985 the award has been handed out at the college level, the first recipient being Brian Bosworth of the Oklahoma Sooners. It wasn’t until 2008 that the Butkus Award was handed out at the professional and high school level, with Notre Dame Fighting Irish star linebacker Manti Te’o winning the first prep award.

The five young men named to the high school finalist list are easily the top linebackers in the country. The amount of offers that have rolled in for all five seniors proves just that.

Is there another great high school linebacker in this list that will make an impact like Te’o has? Or how about another DeMarcus Ware of the Dallas Cowboys who not only won the first award at the professional level but is also a two-time winner? Could there be another Patrick Willis, a player who won the award both as a college star (2006) and as a San Francisco 49er (2009)?

You be the judge as to who you think will be the next star linebacker as you take a look at the five finalists for the 2012 Butkus Award.

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Trey Johnson-Central Gwinnett H.S. (Lawrenceville, GA)

TreyJohnson
John Reed-US PRESSWIRE

Trey Johnson is a great linebacker who has received numerous offers dating back to his junior year. Johnson is selected to play in the 2013 Under Armour All-American Game who has verbally committed to play for the Auburn Tigers. Even with that verbal, Johnson still took an official visit to the campus of the Ohio State Buckeyes on November 24, will take a visit down to see the Florida Gators campus in December and will also travel to see the campus of the USC Trojans in January. It will be very interesting to see if one of those three schools will be able to flip Johnson from his Tigers commitment.

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Isaac Savaiinaea-Punahou H.S. (Honolulu, HI)

IsaacSavaiinaea
Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE

This is an interesting recruit to say the least. Isaac Savaiinaea is the top recruit coming out of Hawaii and is easily a top 10 recruit at linebacker in the nation. The interesting part is where Savaiinaea will choose to play at the collegiate level. After giving a verbal to the Stanford Cardinal back in July, Savaiinaea has recently gone back on his word and has opened up the recruiting doors once again. Savaiinaea officially visited the Texas A&M Aggies in September, followed by a trip to South Bend, IN to visit the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Savaiinaea also took an official visit to the campus of the UCLA Bruins to watch them defeat the Arizona Wildcats 66-10. Five days later is when he decided to decommit from Stanford. The Bruins and Aggies seem to be the leaders right now, as either team would love to pick up this talented linebacker.

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Peter Kalambayi-Butler H.S. (Matthews, NC)

PeterKalambayi
Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

Peter Kalambayi is another very sought after linebacker. Kalambayi was invited to Nike's summer camp "The Opening" and is also selected to the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Although Kalambayi committed to the Stanford Cardinal back in June, he has not ruled out the Oregon Ducks just yet and even took an official visit there on November 17, a game in which the Ducks lost to the Cardinal 17-14. These two Pac 12 teams will be fighting for Kalambayi all the way to the wire.

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Reuben Foster-Auburn H.S. (Auburn, AL)

ReubenFoster
John Reed-US PRESSWIRE

The accolades keep coming in for this talented five-star linebacker. Reuben Foster is selected to play in the 2013 Under Armour All-American Game and was also invited to Nike's all-star camp "The Opening." Foster is highly recruited not only in his home state of Alabama but also down in SEC country. Foster committed to the Auburn Tigers in July after saying no thanks and decommitting from the Alabama Crimson Tide. Not to mention Foster has taken numerous unofficial visits to the Tigers campus, which happens to be in his backyard so to speak. If the Tigers are able to hang on to Foster (Georgia Bulldogs and LSU Tigers are still in the mix), they are setting themselves up for a great 2013 class.

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Jaylon Smith-Bishop Luers H.S. (Fort Wayne, IN)

JaylonSmith
Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE

Jaylon Smith is the slight favorite to win the Butkus award in my opinion, with him and Foster being the two front-runners. Smith is a tremendous athlete who is not only a talented linebacker, but is not a bad running back as well. Smith committed to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish back in June as I don't see any other team coming in and being able to flip him from that. In the past two-plus months Smith has taken five unofficial visits to South Bend, the most recent coming November 17 to witness the Irish trounce the Wake Forest Demon Deacons 38-0. Smith was selected as a U.S. Army All-American and just helped his high school team win a state championship. The Irish know a thing or two about great linebackers (e.g. Manti Te'o) as Smith should fit in nicely down in South Bend.