Dec. 4, 2011
Boston College junior Luke Kuechly has been named the recipient of the 27th annual Butkus Award honoring the nation's top linebacker.
In a neat twist, Dick Butkus, a Hall of Famer for the Chicago Bears, was on hand to present the award to Kuechly at the Eagles' team awards banquet on Sunday at the Sharaton Hotel in Needham, Mass. The presentation took Kuechly completely by surprise.
"I didn't know what was going on," Kuechly said. "These two big guys were standing right behind me and I was like wow, what is going on right now?
"I used to watch football growing up and I used to watch NFL Films," Kuechly continued. "They would always be talking about Dick Butkus. I just remember watching those games and he is one of the all-time linebackers and they always mentioned his name. ... That's the best award if you are a linebacker."
Kuechly was selected by a panel of 51 coaches, recruiters, scouts and journalists coordinated by Pro Football Weekly. Kuechly amassed 191 total tackles, including 102 solo, and three interceptions including one for touchdown. He finished runner-up in the 2010 voting.
"Luke Kuechly is a highly instinctive tackling machine with rare three-year production," said Hub Arkush, publisher of Pro Football Weekly and coordinator of the Butkus Award selection committee, in a statement. "He embodies the spirit of the Butkus Award, bringing tremendous intensity, competitiveness and leadership to the field, while continuing a legacy of outstanding linebacker play at Boston College."
Kuechly received 58 points and 18 first-place votes. Finishing second and third were Alabama teammates Dont'a Hightower (33 and 5) and Courtney Upshaw (23 and 3). Manti Te'o of Notre Dame finished fourth (20 and 1), Lavonte David of Nebraska was fifth (16 and 1), and Jarvis Jones of Georgia (14 and 1).
Kuechly has recorded 532 career tackles, including 299 solo tackles, in 37 career games and is averaging 14.0 tackles per game and 7.9 solo tackles per game. All four standards are unmatched among active collegiate football players.
He broke the school's career record of 524 (formerly held by linebacker Stephen Boyd) in his 37th collegiate game registered the top two single-season tackle totals in ACC history (191 in 2011 and 183 in 2010).
He has registered 10 or more tackles in 33 (of 37) games since making his collegiate debut against Northeastern on Sept. 5, 2009.
Kuechly is Boston College's first Butkus Award recipient.
Last season's Butkus Award winners included: Clay Matthews, Super Bowl-winning Green Bay Packers; Von Miller of Texas A&M University and #2 overall NFL draft pick by the Denver Broncos; and Tony Steward of St. Augustine, Fla., now at Clemson.
The Butkus Award inscription reads: "When a player receives the Butkus Award he will know two things. First, he is recognized as the best of the best linebackers in America. Second, and in the long run most important, he will understand that this recognition brings a responsibility to serve others by giving back. - Dick Butkus."
Considered one of the greatest football players in history, Butkus was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979, following an illustrious career with the Chicago Bears, University of Illinois and Chicago Vocational School.