The Butkus Award is awarded each season to the top linebacker in college football. Introduced in 1985, great defenders including Derrick Thomas, LaVar Arrington and Patrick Willis have won this award. Notre Dame's Manti Te'o won the award last season.
This year's Butkus Award watch list, released by TheButkusAward.com, includes 51 candidates from 37 programs. There are also a few semifinalists from last year who have made the list. These include Jonathan Brown of Illinois, Trent Murphy of Stanford and Max Bullough of Michigan State.
While there are plenty of players to choose from, only a select group have a realistic shot at winning the hardware. There's a great chance the winner will come out of the Big Ten or Pac-12.