In the News

  • 7/16/2017 BUTKUS AWARD® 33rd SEASON WATCH LISTS ANNOUNCED

    CHICAGO – (July 17, 2017) – The Butkus Award® honoring the nation’s best linebackers kicked off its 33rd annual selection process today by announcing its collegiate and high school pre-season watch lists.

     

    Mirroring the legendary “51” pro jersey of the award’s namesake Dick Butkus whom NFL Films considers the best defensive player in football history, each watch list features 51 players identified by a 51-person selection panel of deeply experienced coaches, talent evaluators and journalists. Appearance on the watch list is not required to become a winner.

     

    The Collegiate Butkus Award watch list includes candidates from 42 universities, including six returning semifinalists and one returning finalist, Josey Jewell of Iowa.

     

    The High School Butkus Award watch list includes candidates from 50 secondary schools across 23 states. Florida (7), California (6) and Ohio (5) claim the most candidates.

     

    Semi-finalists will be named October 30, finalists November 20, and winners will be notified on or before December 5. The Professional winner will be announced in early 2018.

     

    The 2016 Butkus Award winners:

    ·     Professional: Khalil Mack, Oakland Raiders

    ·     Collegiate: Reuben Foster, Alabama (now San Francisco 49ers)

    ·     • High School: Dylan Moses, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla. (now Alabama)

     

    Formed in 1985, the Butkus 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 performance-enhancing drugs.

     

    The Butkus Award, www.thebutkusaward.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/51.butkus, is presented by the Butkus Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization. Selection criteria is located on the official website. The Butkus Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) which encompasses college football’s most prestigious awards. Its 23 awards have honored more than 800 people since 1935. Visit www.NCFAA.org for more information.

     

  • 6/14/2017 KHALIL MACK RECEIVES PRO BUTKUS AWARD®

    OAKLAND, Calif. – (June 14, 2017) – Oakland Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack was presented the 2016 professional Butkus Award® in a surprise presentation before teammates here today. The award was presented by its namesake, Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus, and his son Matt Butkus.

     

    Mack was named the NFL’s 2016 Defensive Player of the Year for the 12-4 Raiders, amassing 73 tackles and 11 sacks, forcing five fumbles and recovering three, and snagging an interception. Mack was a finalist for the professional Butkus Award last year, and finished second in the collegiate category in 2013 while playing for the University of Buffalo.

     

    “Khalil Mack was the most disruptive defender in football in 2016 and possesses the drive, determination and on-field dominance required of a future, first-ballot Hall of Famer. He often was unblockable and was the deciding factor in many Raiders victories last season. He is the definition of what the Butkus Award represents with his rare work habits, preparation and passion for the game,” said the Butkus Award selection committee.

     

    Also receiving votes for the Pro Butkus Award: Sean Lee, Dallas Cowboys; Von Miller, Denver Broncos; Bobby Wagner, Seattle Seahawks; Whitney Mercilus, Houston Texans. Luke Kuechly won the previous two pro Butkus Awards in 2015 and 2014.

     

    The 2016 collegiate Butkus Award was presented to Reuben Foster of Alabama who was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers. The 2016 high school Butkus Award went to Dylan Moses of IMG Academy in Florida who is now with the University of Alabama.

     

    The 2017 Butkus Award selection process begins Monday, July 17, with presentation of the collegiate and high school watch lists.

     

    The Butkus Award® began as a collegiate honor in 1985 and is one of the nation’s premier college football awards. It was expanded in 2008 to honor linebackers at three levels of play, while serving as an educational vehicle for the I Play Clean™ initiative which encourages teens to eat well, train hard, and play with attitude instead of using performance-enhancing drugs. The 51-person Butkus Award® selection committee is comprised of football coaches, recruiters, talent scouts and journalists who study football talent yearlong. Selectors and selection criteria are posted at www.thebutkusaward.com.

     

  • 12/5/2016 DYLAN MOSES OF IMG ACADEMY WINS NATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL BUTKUS AWARD®

    BRADENTON, Fla. – (December 5, 2016) – Dylan Moses, a senior at IMG Academy, has received the national high school Butkus Award® honoring the nation’s top high school linebacker.

    The high school Butkus Award was presented as a surprise during a team banquet by its namesake, legendary Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus, and his son Matt, before players, coaches and family.

    Moses won the Butkus Award after leading his team to a perfect 12-0 record, playing the best competition in the country. At 6-2, 225 lbs., Moses recorded 116 tackles during the Ascenders’ perfect season where they held nationally ranked opponents to 9 points a game. He grew up in Baton Rouge and was star athlete in Louisiana before transferring to IMG Academy for his senior year of high school.

    The committee said: “Moses is a prototype linebacker with rare speed and exceptional knockback body power. He’s been a force the last four years since he arrived in high school and is consistently impactful wherever he lines up. He has immense potential, and his future looks extremely bright. This year’s linebacker class was one of the strongest the last decade and included many exceptional football players.”

    Other finalists included: Baron Browning, Kennedale, Tex.; Nate McBride, Vidalia, Ga.; Levi Draper, Collinsville, Okla.; and Anthony Hines, Plano East, Tex.

    Last year’s high school Butkus Award winner was Caleb Kelly, Clovis West High School, Calif., who now plays for the Oklahoma Sooners. The 2016 collegiate Butkus Award was presented to Reuben Foster of Alabama. The 2016 pro Butkus Award, won the past two years by Luke Kuechly of the Carolina Panthers, will be presented in early 2017.

    The Butkus Award® selection committee is comprised of football coaches, recruiters, talent scouts and journalists who study football talent yearlong. Selectors are asked to recognize qualities that defined Butkus’ career; toughness, on-field leadership, competitiveness, football character, and linebacking skills. Selectors and criteria are posted at www.thebutkusaward.com.

    Created in 1985, the Butkus Award® is presented by the Butkus Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization. In addition to honoring top linebackers, the Butkus Award helps spread the word about the I Play Clean® initiative which encourages teens to eat well, train hard, and play with attitude instead of resorting to performance-enhancing drugs. The Butkus Award is part of the National College Football Awards Association (www.NCFAA.org) which includes the 22 most prestigious awards in college football with 722 years of selection excellence.

  • 12/4/2016 REUBEN FOSTER OF ALABAMA WINS 32ND COLLEGIATE BUTKUS AWARD®

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – (December 4, 2016) – The 32nd annual collegiate Butkus Award® honoring the nation’s best collegiate linebacker was presented today to Reuben Foster, a senior at the University of Alabama.

    The bronze trophy was presented in-person by its namesake Dick Butkus and his son Matt as a surprise at an evening team banquet here, following Alabama’s appearance in the SEC Championship game Saturday.

    Foster received 77 points in the Butkus Award voting, becoming the fourth Butkus Award winner from Alabama, matching Oklahoma. Past Alabama winners; C.J. Mosley in 2013 (now Baltimore Ravens), Rolando McClain in 2009 (now Dallas Cowboys), and the late Derrick Thomas in 1988 who joined Mr. Butkus in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

    Runner-up was Zach Cunningham of Vanderbilt with 56 points and Jarrad Davis of Florida with 32 points. Rounding out the top five were LSU’s Kendall Beckwith and Iowa’s Josey Jewell. Those receiving write-in votes included Alabama's Ryan Anderson and Shaun Dion Hamilton, Ohio State's Raekwon McMillan and UCLA's Jayon Brown.

    The selection committee stated: “Reuben Foster is a complete linebacker with the instincts, closing burst, explosion and on-field leadership traits that set the tone for the nation’s top defense. He is a fearless striker who plays the game with intensity and passion. The way he uncoils on contact and the way his teammates gravitate toward him are both reminiscent of Mr. Butkus. After finishing second to Jaylon Smith in the high school balloting four years ago, Foster distinguished himself in this year’s collegiate class.”

    The Butkus Award® selection committee is comprised of football coaches, recruiters, talent scouts and journalists who study football talent yearlong. Selectors are asked to recognize qualities that defined Butkus’ career; toughness, on-field leadership, competitiveness, football character, and linebacking skills.

    The 2015 collegiate Butkus Award winner was Jaylon Smith (now Dallas Cowboys). A 2016 high school winner will be named soon, and a 2016 pro winner will be named early in 2017.

    Created in 1985, the Butkus Award® is presented by the Butkus Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization. In addition to honoring top linebackers, the Butkus Award helps spread the word about the I Play Clean™ initiative which encourages teens to eat well, train hard, and play with attitude instead of resorting to performance-enhancing drugs. The Butkus Award is part of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) which includes the 22 most prestigious awards in college football with 722 years of selection excellence.

  • 11/21/2016 BUTKUS AWARD® 32nd SEASON COLLEGE AND HIGH SCHOOL FINALISTS ANNOUNCED

    CHICAGO – (November 21, 2016) – Finalists for the 32nd annual Butkus Award® honoring the nation’s best collegiate and high school linebackers were announced today by the Butkus Foundation.

     

    Butkus Award 2016 Collegiate Finalists

    ·         Kendall Beckwith, LSU

    ·         Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt

    ·         Jarrad Davis, Florida

    ·         Reuben Foster, Alabama

    ·         Josey Jewell, Iowa

     

    Butkus Award 2016 High School Finalists

    ·         Baron Browning, Kennedale, Texas

    ·         Levi Draper, Collinsville, Okla.

    ·         Anthony Hines, Plano East, Texas

    ·         Nate McBride, Vidalia, Ga.

    ·         Dylan Moses, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla.

     

    Collegiate and prep winners will be announced on or before December 6. The pro winner will be announced in early 2017. Selection is handled by a panel of 51 coaches, recruiters, scouts and journalists who vote separately and confidentially using a 3-2-1 process. Selectors and selection criteria are posted at www.thebutkusaward.com

     

    The 2015 Butkus Award winners:

    ·         Professional: Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers

    ·         Collegiate: Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame (now Dallas Cowboys)

    ·         High School: Caleb Kelly, Clovis West, Calif. (now Oklahoma)

     

    The Butkus Award® is presented by the Butkus Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization. In addition to honoring top linebackers, the Butkus Award helps spread the word about the I Play Clean™ initiative which encourages teens to eat well, train hard, and play with attitude instead of resorting to performance-enhancing drugs. The Butkus Award is part of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) which includes the 22 most prestigious awards in college football with 722 years of selection excellence.

     

  • 10/30/2016 BUTKUS AWARD® 32nd SEASON COLLEGE AND HIGH SCHOOL SEMI-FINALISTS ANNOUNCED

    CHICAGO – (October 31, 2016) – Semi-finalists for the 32nd annual Butkus Award® honoring the nation’s best linebackers at the collegiate and high school levels were revealed today by the Butkus Foundation.

     

    A dozen collegiate linebackers from ten universities were named collegiate semi-finalists, including two prior high school winners, Raekwon McMillan (2013) and Malik Jefferson (2014). Meanwhile, 15 high school linebackers from 11 states were named high school semi-finalists.

     

    Butkus Award 2016 Collegiate Semi-Finalists

    Ryan Anderson                       Alabama

    Jerome Baker                         Ohio State

    Kendall Beckwith                    LSU

    Jack Cichy*                            Wisconsin

    Zach Cunningham                  Vanderbilt

    Jarrad Davis                           Florida

    Reuben Foster                        Alabama

    Malik Jefferson                       Texas

    Josey Jewell                           Iowa

    Micah Kiser                             Virginia

    Raekwon McMillan                 Ohio State

    Azeem Victor                          Washington

     

    * Selectors noted that Jack Cichy’s performance to date qualifies him as a semi-finalist but an injury will likely will keep him off the field for the remainder of the season.

     

    Butkus Award 2016 High School Semi-Finalists

    Markail Benton Central, Phenix City, AL

    Baron Browning Kennedale, TX

    VanDarius Cowan Palm Beach Gardens, FL

    Levi Draper Collinsville, OK

    Hunter Echols Cathedral, Los Angeles, CA

    Justin Foster Crest, Shelby, NC

    Willie Gay Starkville, MS

    Anthony Hines Plano East, TX

    Bruce Jordan-Swilling Brother Martin, New Orleans, LA

    Nate McBride Vidalia, GA

    Dylan Moses IMG Academy, Bradenton, FL

    Jarez Parks Sebastian River, FL

    Jacob Phillips East Nashville Magnet, Nashville, TN

    Jaelan Phillips East Valley, Redlands, CA

    Josh Ross St. Mary’s, Orchard Lake, MI

     

    Selection is handled by a panel of 51 coaches, recruiters, scouts and journalists who vote separately and confidentially using a 3-2-1 process. Selectors and selection criteria are posted at www.thebutkusaward.com.

     

    Finalists in both divisions will be announced November 21, and winners will be announced on or before December 6. The pro winner will be announced in early 2017.

     

    The 2015 Butkus Award winners:

               Professional: Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers

               Collegiate: Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame (now Dallas Cowboys)

               High School: Caleb Kelly, Clovis West, Calif. (now Oklahoma)

     

    The Butkus Award® is presented by the Butkus Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization. In addition to honoring top linebackers, the Butkus Award helps spread the word about the I Play Clean™ initiative which encourages teens to eat well, train hard, and play with attitude instead of resorting to performance-enhancing drugs. The Butkus Award is part of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) which includes the 22 most prestigious awards in college football with 722 years of selection excellence.

  • 10/28/2016 PLANS FOR UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS ATHLETICS HALL OF FAME ANNOUNCED

    All-Time Great Dick Butkus Named First Member of Inaugural Class

     

    CHAMPAIGN, IL – The Division of Intercollegiate Athletics announced today the formation of the University of Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame will recognize and honor the greatest student-athletes, coaches and administrators in the illustrious history of Fighting Illini Athletics, which stretches more than 120 years.

     

    “The University of Illinois has an incredible and storied history in athletics,” Director of Athletics Josh Whitman said. “Legendary names in sports history are found throughout the Illini record books, and we are excited to honor them in our new Hall of Fame. Since the athletic program’s inception in 1890, some of the world’s greatest athletes have competed in the Orange and Blue. Ultimately, as we begin to populate the Hall of Fame, our collection of recognized greats will compare favorably with that of any institution in the nation.”

     

    The University also announced today that all-time Fighting Illini icon Dick Butkus, who many consider the greatest linebacker and defensive player in the history of football, will be a member of the Hall of Fame’s inaugural class.

     

    “The University of Illinois has played an extremely important role in my life,” Butkus said. “I have many life-long relationships that began at the U of I and have always been proud to call myself a Fighting Illini. To be recognized in the inaugural class of the Athletics Hall of Fame is a terrific feeling. I’m very proud of what my teams and I accomplished, including the 1963 Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl victory. Thank you for this honor.”

     

    The entire inaugural class will be announced in February 2017 and will be recognized at a formal dinner event in Chicago next summer. The official induction ceremony of the inaugural Hall of Fame class is scheduled in Champaign-Urbana for the weekend of Sept. 29-30, 2017, when the football team hosts Nebraska in the Big Ten opener. Both the formal dinner and induction ceremony will be open to the public, with details to follow. This approximate timeline will be followed annually, with yearly membership inductions into the Fighting Illini Athletics Hall of Fame.

     

    To be eligible for Hall of Fame consideration, at least five years must have passed following the completion of a student-athlete’s Illinois career. Student-athletes who meet any of the following criteria are automatically nominated for consideration: earning All-America status (by NCAA recognized selectors); winning an individual national or Big Ten championship; repeating as a first- or second-team All-Big Ten honoree; receiving a national award or trophy; holding, at any time, an American or world record (as recognized by proper governing body); member of a professional or collegiate sports hall of fame; qualifying as a U.S. Olympic team member; or earning an Olympic medal for any participating country. Separate criteria will be used for coaches and administrators.

     

    Based on these criteria, nearly 1,000 former Fighting Illini student-athletes, coaches and administrators are automatically eligible for Hall of Fame consideration. A complete list of those people automatically eligible will be available on FightingIllini.com. The general public is invited to submit additional nominations by using the online form also available on FightingIllini.com. To be considered for inclusion in a particular Hall of Fame class, nominations must be received no later than January 1 of that year. A Hall of Fame committee, whose membership will remain confidential, will review annually the nominations and select each year’s induction class.

     

    The Division of Intercollegiate Athletics of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign sponsors 21 varsity teams and is a charter member of both the nation’s premier league, the Big Ten Conference, and the National Collegiate Athletics Association. Since its inception as an athletics department in 1890, the Fighting Illini have won 20 NCAA Championships, five football national championships and 248 Big Ten Titles. Fighting Illini student-athletes have won 28 Olympic medals while competing for 16 countries in 25 Olympic games. Student-athletes and coaches of teams no longer sponsored by the UI Division of Intercollegiate Athletics (including ice hockey, fencing and men’s swimming) will also be considered for Hall of Fame recognition.

     

     

     

    - FAQ

     

    Why the timing?

    The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has sponsored a collegiate athletics program since 1890, with the baseball team starting even earlier than that. Some of the most prominent names in the history of sport have competed on our fields and courts. It is time to recognize these legendary figures.

     

    Who will be on the selection committee?

    To ensure a fair process completed with utmost integrity, the committee’s membership will not be announced. The committee will represent many different stakeholders who have broad appreciation for the rich and diverse tradition of Illinois Athletics. The group will have a tough task: choosing the best of the best from our remarkable history. It will be a very difficult job considering the number of high caliber student-athletes who have competed for Illinois over the past 125 years.

     

    Where will the HOF be housed?

    At present, this is not a Hall of Fame meant to house memorabilia, but to recognize the greatest names in Fighting Illini athletics history. As we move forward with our master facility plans, we will identify the best location and manner in which to celebrate our Hall of Fame.

     

    Can fans nominate candidates?

    The criteria we used to identify a list of automatically qualified candidates is extremely comprehensive. However, public nominations will be accepted with supporting information through an online form at FightingIllini.com.

     

    Are there details on the events you plan to hold?

    We will be announcing details on the formal event in Chicago and induction ceremony in Champaign at a later date.

     

    Will every sport be represented?

    Over time, yes, but not necessarily at the beginning. The best of the best, regardless of sport, will be chosen for early classes inducted into the Hall of Fame. Over time, we expect our classes to be inclusive of all sports that have been sponsored by the UI. Some sports have been competing for more than 100 years, while some have been competing for far less time, meaning some sports will have significantly more candidates. Female student-athletes who were recognized for their competition in club sports prior to the passage of Title IX and inclusion in varsity sports will also be considered.

     

    How big will the inaugural class be?

    We have not predetermined the number of people who will be selected for the inaugural Hall of Fame class.

     

    Why hasn’t Illinois had a HOF in the past?

    The concept of an Athletics Hall of Fame has been discussed for decades but never acted upon. We feel that the current time works very well as this will be in conjunction with the University’s sesquicentennial celebration.

     

    Why announce Dick Butkus now? Why only him?

    Dick Butkus is among the best football players of all time. Many consider him the greatest linebacker and defensive player in the game’s history. He is a member of both the Pro Football and College Football Halls of Fame. He was named to the NFL’s All-Time Team in 2000 and is one of only two players in Illinois football history with his number retired. He is an obvious choice for inclusion in the inaugural class of the Fighting Illini Athletics Hall of Fame. Dick Butkus is arguably the most well-known living Illini athlete and, as one of our true living legends, his presence allows us to help celebrate, in a more personal way, today’s announcement. The committee has the responsibility and time to work through the comprehensive and difficult process of naming the remainder of the inaugural class in the coming months.

     

    How often will a class be inducted?

    We expect to name a Hall of Fame class on an annual basis.

     

     

  • 10/4/2016 LARRY ELLISON PRESENTED FIRST EVER BUTKUS AWARD® FOR BUSINESS


    CHICAGO – (October 3, 2016) – Larry Ellison, cofounder of information systems giant Oracle Corp, has received the first ever Butkus Award® for Business.

     

    Presented by the nonprofit Butkus Foundation, the Butkus Award for Business honors leaders who exemplify determination in business and life with the same tenacity that legendary linebacker Dick Butkus demonstrated on and off the football field.

     

    For 40 years, Mr. Ellison has pursued the development and application of relational databases which have forever improved operations of business, government and society. He led Oracle through a dynamic journey that began as a startup and evolved to its position today a world-leading information management company. Today, he serves as Oracle’s Executive Chairman and Chief Technology Officer while also pursuing passions including sailing, tennis and real estate development.

     

    “Larry Ellison’s persistent leadership has made all of our lives better while developing one of the strongest businesses in our country. We appreciate his relentless pursuit of excellence,” said Dick Butkus.

     

    Mr. Ellison was presented a hand-crafted bronze statue similar to the 32-year-old Butkus Award® trophy presented to top linebackers at the professional, collegiate and high school level. He was selected by a Butkus Foundation panel that eventually will include past honorees.

     

    The Butkus Foundation is a nonprofit 501c3 organization advancing charitable initiatives associated with Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus, including the Butkus Award®, a cardiovascular awareness initiative and an I Play Clean program encouraging teens to avoid performance-enhancing drugs. More information is at www.butkusfoundation.org.

     

  • 7/12/2016 BUTKUS AWARD® 32nd SEASON WATCH LISTS ANNOUNCED

    CHICAGO – (July 12, 2016) – The 32nd annual Butkus Award® honoring the nation’s best linebackers kicked off its 2016 selection process today by announcing its collegiate and high school pre-season watch lists.

     

    Mirroring the legendary “51” pro jersey of the award’s namesake Dick Butkus whom NFL Films considers the best defensive player in football history, each watch list features 51 players who will be reviewed by a 51-person selection panel of deeply experienced coaches, talent evaluators and journalists who vote by private ballot. Appearance on the watch list is not required to become a semi-finalist.

     

    The Collegiate Butkus Award watch list includes candidates from 44 universities. It includes one returning finalist, Raekwon McMillan of Ohio State, who won the 2013 national high school Butkus Award.

     

    The High School Butkus Award watch list includes candidates from 17 states, with Florida (8), Georgia (7), Texas (6), Alabama (5) and California (5) producing the most candidates.

     

    Semi-finalists will be named October 31, finalists November 21, and winners will be notified on or before December 6. The Pro Butkus Award winner will be announced in early 2017.

     

    The 2015 Butkus Award winners:

    ·     Professional: Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers

    ·     Collegiate: Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame (now Dallas Cowboys)

    ·     • High School: Caleb Kelly, Clovis West, Calif. (now Oklahoma)

     

    Formed in 1985, the Butkus 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 performance-enhancing drugs. More information is available at www.iplayclean.org.

     

    The Butkus Award, www.thebutkusaward.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/51.butkus, is presented by the Butkus Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization. The Butkus Award is part of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) which includes the 22 most prestigious awards in college football with 722 years of selection excellence. Visit www.NCFAA.org for more information.

     

Upcoming Events

  • 7/17/2017 . . 2017 Butkus Award Watch List Announced
  • 10/30/2017 . . 2017 Butkus Award Semifinalists named
  • 11/20/2017 . . 2017 Butkus Award Finalists will be named
  • 12/5/2017 . . 2017 Butkus Award Winners will be announced by Dec. 5th
  • 1/1/2018 . . The Professional Butkus Award will be announced in early 2018