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The Butkus Award, instituted in 1985 by the Orlando Athletic Club, is awarded annually to the best High School, College, and Professional Line-Backer. Oklahoma LB Brian Bosworth became the first recipient of the award and the award's first two-time winner. Georgia LB Nakobe Dean is the most recent recipient after having 72 tackles, six sacks, and two interceptions and leading the Bulldogs to the National Championship.

Dec 4, 2021; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Nakobe Dean (17) celebrates after a tackle against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the first half during the SEC championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Dec 4, 2021; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Nakobe Dean (17) celebrates after a tackle against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the first half during the SEC championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Outside Looking In 

  • Ben Bywater, BYU
  • Jack Campbell, Iowa
  • KD Davis, North Texas
  • Tommy Eichenberg, Ohio State
  • Nick Jackson, Virginia
  • Mikel Jones, Syracuse
  • Anfernee Orji, Vanderbilt
  • DeMarvion Overshown, Texas
  • Luke Reimer, Nebraska
  • Trenton Simpson, Clemson
Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell reacts after making a tackle against South Dakota State during a NCAA football game on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.

Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell reacts after making a tackle against South Dakota State during a NCAA football game on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.

Butkus Award Top 3

Sep 3, 2022; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Dillon Gabriel (8) is tackled by UTEP Miners linebacker Tyrice Knight (10) during the first half at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

Sep 3, 2022; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Dillon Gabriel (8) is tackled by UTEP Miners linebacker Tyrice Knight (10) during the first half at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

#3 Tyrice Knight

Senior, UTEP

Week 4 Stats: 7 tackles

Season Stats: 44 tackles, 5 TFL, 1 INT, 1 forced fumble, 1 PBU

Knight was again impressive against Boise State. The senior had seven tackles and was all over the field disrupting plays during the game. Due to his performance, Knight stays in the top three for the second week in a row. However, isn't clear of the pack yet, as many listed contenders are close to the top three.


Sep 3, 2022; Pullman, Washington, USA;Idaho Vandals running back Anthony Woods (28) is stoped for a loss by Washington State Cougars linebacker Daiyan Henley (1) in the first half at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 3, 2022; Pullman, Washington, USA;Idaho Vandals running back Anthony Woods (28) is stoped for a loss by Washington State Cougars linebacker Daiyan Henley (1) in the first half at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

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#2 Daiyan Henley

Senior, Washington State

Week 4 Stats: 8 tackles

Season Stats: 38 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 4 sacks, 1 INT, 2 forced fumbles

Henley, like Knight, had another solid performance racking up eight tackles in a close loss against Oregon. The Washington State senior made and disrupted plays all over the field, helping him to stay in second this week.


Sep 17, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks linebacker Drew Sanders 942) tackles Missouri State Bears quarterback Jason Shelley (3) in the fourth quarter at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Arkansas won 38-27.

Sep 17, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks linebacker Drew Sanders 942) tackles Missouri State Bears quarterback Jason Shelley (3) in the fourth quarter at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Arkansas won 38-27.

#1 Drew Sanders

Junior, Arkansas

Week 4 Stats: 4 tackles, .5 sacks

Season Stats: 32 tackles, 7 TFL, 6 sacks, 2 PBU, 2 forced fumbles

The Alabama transfer continues to turn heads for the Razorbacks. In my opinion, Sanders is in his own tier when looking at these top three. Despite the loss to Texas A&M, Drew was a wrecking ball on defense and made countless plays in an attempt to stop the Aggie's offense. Drew is the Butkus favorite and needs to continue this pace in order to win the award.


Welcome to the Butkus contenders, Tommy Eichenberg. The Ohio State senior erupted against Wisconsin and made the case to be on this list. The top three didn't change this week. All three performed at a solid level and will keep their spots for the time being. 

Sep 24, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Tommy Eichenberg (35) tackles Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen (0) during the first half of the NCAA Division I football game at Ohio Stadium.

Sep 24, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Tommy Eichenberg (35) tackles Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen (0) during the first half of the NCAA Division I football game at Ohio Stadium.