CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons has been named as a finalist for the 2019 Chuck Bednarik Award and the 2019 Butkus Award. His selection as a finalist for each award was announced on Monday by the Maxwell Football Club and the Butkus Foundation, respectively.
Since 1995, the Bednarik Award has been presented each year to college football’s top defensive player. Simmons is one of three finalists, joining Auburn’s Derrick Brown and Ohio State’s Chase Young.
Simmons became the fifth Clemson player to be named a finalist, joining Keith Adams (2000), Da’Quan Bowers (2010), Vic Beasley (2014) and Christian Wilkins (2018). Simmons’ selection as a finalist gives Clemson finalists in back-to-back years for the first time in the award’s history.
The Butkus Award is presented annually to the nation’s top linebacker. Simmons joins Wisconsin’s Zack Baun, Texas Tech’s Jordyn Brooks, Penn State’s Micah Parsons, Cal’s Evan Weaver and Wyoming’s Logan Wilson as one of six finalists for the honor.
Simmons’ selection represents the third consecutive season in which a Clemson linebacker has been named as a finalist for the Butkus Award. He joins Tre Lamar (2018), Dorian O’Daniel (2017), Keith Adams (2000) and Levon Kirkland (1990) as one of five Butkus finalists in school history. If Simmons were to win the award, he would become the first player in school history to earn the honor.
Last week, Simmons was also named as a finalist for the 2019 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, presented annually to the nation’s top defensive player, joining Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown, Georgia safety J.R. Reed, Minnesota defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr. and Ohio State defensive end Chase Young as one of five finalists for this year’s honor.
Simmons is Clemson’s sixth all-time finalist for the Nagurski Trophy, joining Gaines Adams (2006), Da’Quan Bowers (2010), Shaq Lawson (2015) and Christian Wilkins (2016 and 2018). This year marks Clemson’s fourth time being represented among the Nagurski finalists in the last five seasons, and Simmons will attempt to join Bowers as the only Clemson players to win the award.
This season, Clemson’s coaching staff has credited Simmons with 74 tackles, including a team-leading 12.0 for loss and team-best 6.0 sacks. He has also added five pass breakups, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in helping Clemson become the first defense since the turn of the century to open a season by holding 11 consecutive opponents under 300 yards.