FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas senior linebacker Sam Olajubutu is one of 10 semifinalists for the 2006 Butkus Award®, presented annually to the nation’s top linebacker, it was announced on Thursday by The Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando, Inc. (DACO).
Olajubutu is one of four Southeastern Conference linebackers to make the semifinalist list joining LSU’s Ali Highsmith, Florida’s Brandon Siler and Ole Miss’ Patrick Willis. The other linebackers to make the cut were H.B. Blades (Pittsburgh), Buster Davis (Florida State), David Harris (Michigan), James Laurinaitis (Ohio State) and Paul Posluszny (Penn State).
“I am very proud of Sam, but I’m not surprised (he is a semifinalist),” Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt said. “He is playing at an all-time high level. He is a total team player. He just continues to get better and better. He certainly deserves his place among the very best linebackers in the nation.”
Olajubutu is having a stellar senior season at the heart of the Razorback defense. The LaGrange, Ga., product has racked up 69 tackles including 5.5 tackles for loss (-17). He has earned double-digit tackles in five of six games this season and 14 career games. Last week, Olajubutu was named to the CollegeFootballNews.com Mid-season first-team All-America team. He is only the 14th Razorback in school history to record more than 300 tackles. Olajubutu currently boasts 326 career tackles and is only 82 stops shy of UA school record holder Tony Bua (408).
The 10 Butkus Award® semifinalists will be cut down to three finalists whom will be announced via a national teleconference with players, coaches, media members and Butkus Award® officials on Thursday, Nov. 9. The winner will be announced Saturday, Dec. 9, 2006 at the Butkus Award® Gala in Orlando, Fla. The Butkus Award® will be presented to the winner by the award’s namesake former University of Illinois and Chicago Bear NFL Hall of Fame member, Dick Butkus. The finalists, their coaches and families are invited to attend the Butkus Award® Gala festivities including a welcome reception, golf tournament and silent auction.
If 2005 Butkus Award® winner Paul Posluszny of Penn State repeats in 2006, he would become just the second linebacker to win the Butkus Award® twice in DACO’s 22-year history. Posluszny would tie with Brian Bosworth of Oklahoma who won the Butkus Award® in 1985 and 1986 respectively. The independent Butkus Award® Selection Committee for the 2006 Butkus Award®, comprised of some of the nation’s foremost journalists, is solely and exclusively responsible for all voting in the Butkus Award® selection process. Voting for the three finalists and the Butkus Award® winner will be conducted by exclusive confidential ballots of the selection committee.
The Butkus Award® is regarded as one of the most elite individual honors in college football. Past recipients include such outstanding linebackers as: Paul Posluszny (2005-Penn State); Derrick Johnson (2004-Texas) Teddy Lehman (2003-Oklahoma); E.J. Henderson (2002-Maryland); Rocky Calmus (2001-Oklahoma); Dan Morgan (2000-Miami (FL); LaVar Arrington (1999-Penn State); Chris Claiborne (1998-Southern California); Andy Katzenmoyer (1997-Ohio State); Matt Russell (1996 Colorado); Kevin Hardy (1995-Illinois); Dana Howard (1994-Illinois); Trev Alberts (1993-Nebraska); Marvin Jones (1992-Florida State); Erick Anderson (1991-Michigan); Alfred Williams (1990-Colorado); Percy Snow (1989-Michigan State); Derrick Thomas (1988-Alabama); Paul McGowan (1997-Florida State) and Brian Bosworth (1985 and 1986-Oklahoma). Created in 1985 by the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando Inc., the Butkus Award® carries the name and support of one of the greatest middle linebackers in football history, Dick Butkus.