Nov. 22, 2011
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Alabama linebackers Dont'a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw were selected on Tuesday as two of the six finalists for the 27th annual Butkus Award, which goes to the nation's top linebacker, the Butkus Foundation announced.
Hightower, a fourth-year junior from Lewisburg, Tenn., and Upshaw, a native of Eufaula, Ala., are two of the leaders of the Crimson Tide's top-ranked defense. The pair has helped Alabama lead the nation in scoring defense (8.3 ppg), total defense (195.9 ypg), rushing defense (74.6 ypg), pass defense (121.3 ypg) and pass efficiency defense (81.8).
Hightower has a team-high 72 tackles on the season with 8.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. Hightower is also responsible for the on-field calls and checks for the front seven. He has added one interception, one blocked field goal, eight quarterback hurries and three pass breakups. Hightower is now a finalist for the Butkus Award, the Lombardi Award and the Chuck Bednarik Award.
Upshaw leads the team and ranks second in the Southeastern Conference with 14 tackles for loss of 66 yards. He also has a team-high 6.5 sacks (-45), one interceptions return for a touchdown against Florida, a team-high 10 quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles. He is now a finalist for both the Butkus Award and the Lombardi Award.
Other Butkus Award finalists include Nebraska's Lavonte David, Georgia's Jarvis Jones, Boston College's Luke Kuechly and Notre Dame's Manti Te'o.
The Butkus Award is selected by a 51-person panel comprised of scouts, coaches and journalists. The Butkus Award draws attention to the `I Play Clean' campaign, which is aimed at ending steroid use in organized sports.
An Alabama player has won the Butkus Award on two previous occasions. Derrick Thomas was the Crimson Tide's first winner in 1988 and Rolando McClain captured the honor in 2009.
Also follow breaking news on the Crimson Tide on Facebook at Alabama-Football and on Twitter at @AlabamaFTBL.