The Alabama football parade of players being placed on the watch lists of various awards to be presented at the conclusion of the 2016 season continues. Alabama senior linebackers Ryan Anderson, Reuben Foster, and Tim Williams have been named to the 2016 Butkus Award watch list.
The trio is among 51 linebackers from around the country named to the preseason list recognizing the nation’s top linebacker and the Tide’s three watch list selections are the most of any team in the country.
Three Crimson Tide players have won the award previously – C.J. Mosley (2013), Rolando McClain (2009) and Derrick Thomas (1988).
Dangerous off the edge, Anderson enters his senior campaign as one of the nation’s top pass rushers and one of the most reliable linebackers for the Crimson Tide defense. He notched 37 tackles a season ago, with 11.5 of those going for a loss (-50), and added six sacks (-41 yards), two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and nine quarterback hurries. Anderson got stronger as the season wore on, recording 9.5 of his tackles for loss in his last 10 games, including a career-high two tackles for loss at then-No. 20 Mississippi State, against Florida in the SEC Championship and finally against Michigan State in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. He played a key role in the Tide’s late-game, regular-season win over Tennessee, forcing a fumble on the Volunteers’ final offensive drive with less than two minutes to play, sealing the 19-14 win and keeping the Crimson Tide’s title hopes intact.
Foster returns for his senior season to anchor the Alabama defense after learning under unanimous first team All-American and current Buffalo Bills linebacker Reggie Ragland during his junior campaign. An instinctive backer who earned the starting job at inside linebacker a season ago, Foster finished second on the team with 73 total tackles, eight for a loss (-24 yards), with two sacks (-7 yards), three quarterback hurries and nine pass breakups in 2015.
One of the nation’s top pass rushers on the outside, Williams returns for his senior season with the Tide. He played in all 15 games as a junior and ranked second on the team with 10.5 sacks (-78 yards) to go with 12.5 tackles for loss (-92 yards), four quarterback hurries and one pass breakup. Heating up as the season progressed, Williams used his last five SEC games and the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic to record at least half a sack and added 2.0 sacks apiece at Auburn and versus Florida. Williams notched 11.0 of his 12.5 tackles for loss (-61 yards) during that time, and added 7.0 of his 10.5 sacks (-60 yards).
The Butkus Award has been presented annually since 1985 by the Butkus Foundation to recognize the top linebacker in college football. The award is named in honor of college and NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus. The 2016 winner will be announced at the conclusion of the regular season.