Dec. 1, 2008
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Alabama sophomore linebacker Rolando McClain has been selected as one of the 12 finalists for the 2008 Butkus Award, honoring the nation's top collegiate linebacker. The winner will be announced the week of Dec. 8, 2008.
McClain is the leading tackler for an Alabama defense that ranks in the top five nationally in rushing defense (2nd), scoring defense (3rd), total defense (3rd) and pass efficiency defense (5th) this season.
"It is an outstanding honor to be chosen as a finalist for the Butkus Award," McClain said. "Dick Butkus was one of the greatest linebackers to every play the game, and to have my name mentioned along with his is an honor. But our season hasn't been about individual awards and I wouldn't be on this list without my teammates."
In 12 games, McClain leads the team with 82 tackles and 11.0 tackles for loss (-44 yards). He has 3.0 sacks (-22 yards), five pass breakups and two quarterback hurries. McClain has also recovered two fumbles - one he returned for a touchdown - and one interception this season.
The Butkus Award is selected by a 51-person panel comprised mostly of scouts, coaches and journalists, and coordinated by Hub Arkush of Pro Football Weekly. Selectors follow all rules of their leagues, including NFL coaches avoiding contact with collegiate candidates, and collegiate coaches avoiding contact and not voting on high school candidates.
"This Award is about honoring linebackers, and reminding them that they have a responsibility to serve as role models and to give back to society," said Dick Butkus, the award's namesake.
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. Meanwhile, his son Matt was a defensive lineman for the University of Southern California's 1990 Rose Bowl winning team, and joins his father in philanthropic efforts. Butkus wants the Award to draw attention to the I Play Clean(TM) campaign, which aims to end steroid use in organized sports.
Joining McClain as finalists for the Butkus Award are Mark Herzlich (Boston College); Brandon Spikes (Florida); Rennie Curran (Georgia); Perry Riley (LSU); Darry Beckwith (LSU); Sean Witherspoon (Missouri); James Laurinaitis (Ohio State); Rey Maualuga (USC); Brian Cushing (USC); Clint Sintim (Virginia) and Aaron Curry (Wake Forest).