PROVO — With college football season just around the corner, watch lists for several awards presented by the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) are being released. Fred Warner of BYU has already been named to the Bednarik Award watch list, and now Warner can add being named to the 2017 Butkus Award watch list to his résumé.
The Butkus Award is presented annually to the nation’s best linebacker. Warner, heading into his senior season, is making his debut appearance on the award watch list.
The 6-foot-4 linebacker started all 13 games for the Cougars last season. He led BYU with 86 total tackles while being second on the team with 10.5 tackles for loss. The San Marcos, California, native had three interceptions during his junior season while also being named to the College Sports Madness Preseason All-Independent first-team defense.
During his sophomore season, Warner played in all 13 games while earning letterman honors and being named to the Phil Steele Postseason All-Independent First Team. In 2014 during his freshman year, he also earned letterman honors.
The Butkus Award has been awarded since 1985 and is named after former Chicago Bears linebacker Dick Butkus. Butkus starred at the University of Illinois, where he was a two-time All-American, Big Ten MVP and two-time Heisman candidate.
BYU was represented last year on the Butkus watch list when Harvey Langi was named as a candidate. Warner is the only player on the watch list this year out of Utah and only one of two independent players chosen.
The SEC leads the way with 11 players on the watch list while the Pac-12 comes in next with 10. Previous notable winners of the award include the 2016 winner out of Alabama, Reuben Foster, who now plays for the San Francisco 49ers. Jaylon Smith from Notre Dame won the Butkus Award in 2015 while Manti Te’o won the award in 2012.
The semifinalists for the award will be announced on Oct. 20 and the finalists will be announced on Nov. 30. The winners of each NCFAA award will be announced Dec. 7 at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show.