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Jul 26, 2021

Skalski, Spector Named to Butkus Award Watch List

The Butkus Foundation announced today that Clemson linebackers James Skalski and Baylon Spector have been named as two of 51 players on the watch list for the collegiate Butkus Award. Additional information from award organizers is included below.

CHICAGO – (July 26, 2021) – The Butkus Award® honoring the nation’s best linebackers kicked off its 37th annual selection process today by announcing its collegiate and high school preseason watch lists.

Each watch list contains 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 Collegiate Butkus Award watch list includes candidates from 51 universities, including returning finalist Devin Lloyd of Utah and five returning semi-finalists.

The High School Butkus Award watch list includes candidates from 51 secondary schools across 26 states, with Texas (6), Georgia (5) and Florida (4) fielding the most candidates.

Semi-finalists are expected to be named Nov. 1, finalists Nov. 22, and winners on or before Dec. 7. Appearing on the watch list is not a requirement to win the award.

The 2020 Butkus Award winners:
• Collegiate: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame (now Cleveland Browns)
• High School: Prince Kollie, David Crockett, Jonesborough, Tenn. (now Notre Dame)

Formed 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.

The Butkus Award is partnering with Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage to celebrate Butkus Award winners. The event is scheduled Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022. Contact the Butkus Foundation for ticket and sponsorship information.

The Butkus Award® is presented by the Butkus Foundation and selected by a 51-member expert panel of coaches, scouts and journalists. The award is part of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) which encompasses college football’s most prestigious awards. NCFAA’s 25 awards have honored more than 800 recipients since 1935. Visit for more information.

2021 Collegiate Butkus Award Watch List

Christopher Allen, Alabama
Will Anderson, Alabama
Christian Harris, Alabama
Merlin Robertson, Arizona State
Grant Morgan, Arkansas
Bumper Pool, Arkansas
Zakoby McClain, Auburn
Terrel Bernard, Baylor
James Patterson, Buffalo
Payton Wilgar, BYU
James Skalski, Clemson
Baylon Spector, Clemson
Nate Landman, Colorado
Ventrell Miller, Florida
Amari Gainer, Florida State
Adam Anderson, Georgia
Nakobe Dean, Georgia
Quay Walker, Georgia
Jake Hansen, Illinois
Micah McFadden, Indiana
Mike Rose, Iowa State
Damone Clark, LSU
Lakia Henry, Mississippi
Sam Williams, Mississippi
Blaze Alldredge, Missouri
Jeremiah Gemmel, North Carolina
Payton Wilson, North Carolina State
Jackson Hankey, North Dakota State
Chris Bergin, Northwestern
Brian Asamoah, Oklahoma
Nik Bonnito, Oklahoma
Malcolm Rodriguez, Oklahoma State
Noah Sewell, Oregon
Avery Roberts, Oregon State
Jesse Luketa, Penn State
Brandon Smith, Penn State
Olakunle Fatukasi, Rutgers
Jordan Strachan, South Carolina
Mikel Jones, Syracuse
Demarvion Overshown, Texas
Aaron Hansford, Texas A&M
Colin Schooler, Texas Tech
Carlton Martial, Troy
Drake Jackson, USC
Devin Lloyd, Utah
Anfernee Orji, Vanderbilt
Nick Jackson, Virginia
Zion Tupuola-Fetui, Washington
Edefuan Ulofoshio, Washington
Jack Sanborn, Wisconsin
Chad Muma, Wyoming