2022 Butkus Award Preseason Candidates Announced

July 25, 2022 by Staff

CHICAGO – The Butkus Award® honoring the nation’s best linebackers kicked off its 38th annual selection process today by announcing its collegiate preseason watch list.

The watch list features 51 linebackers, mirroring the legendary “51” pro jersey associated with the award’s namesake, Dick Butkus, who was recognized by NFL Films as the best defensive player in football history. The Butkus Award is focused on recognizing linebackers who consistently play off the ball on their feet in a two-point stance in traditional form.

The collegiate Butkus Award watch list includes candidates from 43 schools, including three returning semifinalists: Iowa’s Jack Campbell, Texas’ DeMarvion Overshown and Oregon’s Noah Sewell. The SEC leads all conferences with 12 representatives, followed by the Pac-12 with nine. Teammates from seven schools – Alabama, BYU, Cincinnati, Iowa, N.C. State, Oregon, and UCLA – have been named to the list and all 10 Division I FBS conferences are represented.

The award semifinalists are expected to be named Oct. 31 with finalists to follow Nov. 21. The winner will be named on or before Dec. 7. Appearing on the watch list is not a requirement to win the award.

“I am always excited about seeing our great watch list players on the field,” said Butkus, the College and Pro Football Hall of Famer. “When an outstanding player receives the Butkus Award he will know two things: First, he is recognized as the best of the best linebackers in America; Second, and in the long run most important, he will understand this recognition brings a responsibility of giving back.”

All 2022 Butkus Award winners will be honored at a televised event on Jan. 21, 2023, at the Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa in Rancho Mirage, California. CBS Sports Network aired the event last season, featuring Butkus and numerous noted NFL Alumni. To watch the show online via YouTube, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRxu2gDu9pI.

Founded in 1985, the Butkus Award honors linebackers at three levels while supporting causes important to the Butkus family. Causes include Butkus Takes Heart™ initiative encouraging early cardiovascular screening among adults, and the I Play Clean® initiative encouraging athletes to train naturally without performance-enhancing drugs. A 51-member expert panel of coaches, scouts, and journalists guides the selection process. Past winners of the collegiate award include such greats as Patrick Willis, Von Miller, Luke Kuechly, Devin White, and many more.

Nakobe Dean of national champion Georgia was the 2021 recipient and is among just three players to win both the high school and collegiate Butkus Awards. The Horn Lake, Mississippi, product, now with the Philadelphia Eagles, joined Jaylon Smith and Manti Te’o in that distinction.

The watch list for the 2022 Butkus Award for high school players will be released in August. The Butkus Foundation has presented the high school and professional awards since 2008.

The complete 51-man Butkus Award preseason collegiate watch list follows:

Darren Anders, Bowling Green
Jeremy Banks, Tennessee
Micah Baskerville, LSU
Seth Benson, Iowa
JD Bertrand, Notre Dame
Tatum Bethune, Florida State
Troy Brown, Ole Miss
Ben Bywater, BYU
Jack Campbell, Iowa
Levani Damuni, Stanford
KD Davis, North Texas
Mohamoud Diabate, Utah
Jamon Dumas-Johnson, Georgia
Justin Flowe, Oregon
Sherrod Greene, South Carolina
Kyle Harmon, San Jose State
Calvin Hart Jr., Illinois
Daiyan Henley, Washington State
Nick Jackson, Virginia
Jestin Jacobs, Iowa
Carl Jones Jr., UCLA
Mikel Jones, Syracuse
Tyrice Knight, UTEP
Carlton Martial, Troy
Ventrell Miller, Florida
Jackson Mitchell, UConn
Jaylen Moody, Alabama
Isaiah Moore, N.C. State
Darius Muasau, UCLA
Donavan Mutin, Houston
Anfernee Orji, Vanderbilt
DeMarvion Overshown, Texas
Deshawn Pace, Cincinnati
Ivan Pace, Cincinnati
Owen Pappoe, Auburn
James Patterson, Buffalo
Bumper Pool, Arkansas
Luke Reimer, Nebraska
Merlin Robertson, Arizona State
Noah Sewell, Oregon
Trenton Simpson, Clemson
Isaac Slade-Matautia, SMU
Mariano Sori-Marin, Minnesota
DeAndre Square, Kentucky
Drake Thomas, N.C. State
Henry To’o To’o, Alabama
David Ugwoegbu, Oklahoma
Edefuan Ulofoshio, Washington
Payton Wilgar, BYU
Dorian Williams, Tulane
Dee Winters, TCU

By conference: SEC 12, Pac-12 9, ACC 6, Big Ten 6, American Athletic 5, Independents 4, Big 12 3, Conference USA 2, Mid-American 2, Mountain West 1, Sun Belt 1.

Boldface denotes returning semifinalists; No finalists are returning from the 2021 season

Justin Flowe was the 2019 winner of the high school Butkus Award

The Butkus Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses college football’s most prestigious awards. The NCFAA’s 25 awards have honored more than 800 recipients since 1935. Visit NCFAA.org for more information.

The members of the NCFAA are unveiling preseason watch lists over a two-week period. Sixteen of the association’s 25 awards are presenting their preseason watch list during this time as the NCFAA has spearheaded a coordinated effort to promote each award’s preseason candidates. Following is the remaining 2022 preseason watch list calendar:

  • Mon., July 25: Jim Thorpe Award
  • Tues., July 26: Outland Trophy/Bronko Nagurski Trophy
  • Wed., July 27: Lou Groza Award/Ray Guy Award
  • Thurs., July 28: Hornung Award/Wuerffel Trophy
  • Fri,, July 29: Walter Camp Award
  • Mon., Aug. 1: Bednarik Award