Organizers for the Butkus Award announced today that linebacker Trenton Simpson has been named as one of 51 members on the 2022 watch list for the Butkus Award, presented annually to the nation’s top linebacker. Additional information from award organizers is included below.
Visit the 2022 Preseason Honors hub for more preseason accolades garnered by Clemson.
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.
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 (MAC)Jeremy Banks, Tennessee (SEC)Micah Baskerville, LSU (SEC)Seth Benson, Iowa (Big Ten)JD Bertrand, Notre Dame (Independent)Tatum Bethune, Florida State (ACC)Troy Brown, Ole Miss (SEC)Ben Bywater, BYU (Independent)Jack Campbell, Iowa (Big Ten)Levani Damuni, Stanford (Pac-12)KD Davis, North Texas (Conference USA)Mohamoud Diabate, Utah (Pac-12)Jamon Dumas-Johnson, Georgia (SEC)Justin Flowe, Oregon (Pac-12)Sherrod Greene, South Carolina (SEC)Kyle Harmon, San Jose State (Mountain West)Calvin Hart Jr., Illinois (Big Ten)Daiyan Henley, Washington State (Pac-12)Nick Jackson, Virginia (ACC)Jestin Jacobs, Iowa (Big Ten)Carl Jones Jr., UCLA (Pac-12)Mikel Jones, Syracuse (ACC)Tyrice Knight, UTEP (Conference USA)Carlton Martial, Troy (Sun Belt)Ventrell Miller, Florida (SEC)Jackson Mitchell, UConn (Independent)Jaylen Moody, Alabama (SEC)Isaiah Moore, N.C. State (ACC)Darius Muasau, UCLA (Pac-12)Donavan Mutin, Houston (American)Anfernee Orji, Vanderbilt (SEC)DeMarvion Overshown, Texas (Big 12)Ivan Pace, Cincinnati (American)Deshawn Pace, Cincinnati (American)Owen Pappoe, Auburn (SEC)James Patterson, Buffalo (MAC)Bumper Pool, Arkansas (SEC)Luke Reimer, Nebraska (Big Ten)Merlin Robertson, Arizona State (Pac-12)Noah Sewell, Oregon (Pac-12)Trenton Simpson, Clemson (ACC)Isaac Slade-Matautia, SMU (American)Mariano Sori-Marin, Minnesota (Big Ten)DeAndre Square, Kentucky (SEC)Drake Thomas, N.C. State (ACC)Henry To’o To’o, Alabama (SEC)David Ugwoegbu, Oklahoma (Big 12)Edefuan Ulofoshio, Washington (Pac-12)Payton Wilgar, BYU (Independent)Dorian Williams, Tulane (American)Dee Winters, TCU (Big 12)
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.