HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss linebackers Korey Williams and Jamie Collins have been named to the 27th annual collegiate Butkus Award watch list for 2011. The award honors the top collegiate linebacker in the nation.
The 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.
Williams, who has also been named to the Bednarik Award, Bronko Nagurski and Rotary Lombardi Award Watch Lists in recent weeks for the nation's top defensive player, led the team in tackles for the second consecutive season in 2010 with 93 total stops. His tackle numbers included a team-best 15.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. The senior added an interception and a forced fumble to help lead the Golden Eagles to their ninth-straight bowl appearance and school-record tying 17th straight winning season.
It is the first award watch list that Collins, a junior from McCall Creek, Miss., has been named to after tallying the second-most tackles on the team in 2010 with 76 in his first season as a linebacker. Collins made the switch from defensive back to linebacker a season ago and added 2.5 sacks for 11 yards, two interceptions for 37 yards including returning one for a touchdown, a forced fumble and a fumble return of 13 yards.
Semi-finalists will be named October 24, finalists November 22, and winners will be notified on or before December 7.
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.
The Butkus Award 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.