The Butkus Award, instituted in 1985, has been given annually to the top linebacker in college football. The award is named in honor of Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Duck Butkus, who is regarded by NFL Films as the best defensive player in football history.
This year, 51 college linebackers are on the Watch List, including Arizone State's Vontaze Burflict, Boston College's Luke Kuechly, Alabama's Courtney Upshaw, Nebraska's Lavonte David and Florida's Jelani Jenkins.
You can view the full list here.
The Butkus Award is also handed out to the nation's top high school linebacker as well. You can view the high school watch list here.
Texas A&M's Von Miller won the Butkus Award for college players in 2010. Last year's high school winner, Tony Steward, will play for Clemson this season.
An independent Butkus Award Selection Committee, headed by Pro Football Weekly's Hub Arkush and comprised of 51 experts, including professional, college and high school scouts, and prominent sports journalists, will conduct the selection process. Semi-finalists will be named on Oct. 24 and finalists will be selected on Nov. 22. The winners will be notified on or before Dec. 7.