Monheim Named to Butkus Watch List

Junior linebacker Mason Monheim included in the list of country's top linebackers.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Illinois junior linebacker Mason Monheim has been named to the preseason watch list for the 2014 Butkus Award, given annually to the top linebacker in major college football and named for former Fighting Illini Dick Butkus. Monheim is one of five Big Ten linebackers on the 51-player watch list, giving Illinois a player on the list for the third-straight season and eight of the last nine.

Monheim has been a key contributor for the Illini in his first two seasons and will assume an even larger role after the graduation of former Butkus Award semifinalist Jonathan Brown in 2013. Monheim was a Freshman All-American in 2012 after becoming the first true-freshman to lead the Illini in tackles with 86. He finished ninth in the Big Ten in tackles with 8.1 per game and 97 total in 2013, including 6.5 TFLs.

Generally considered the greatest linebacker in football history, Butkus was an All-American at Illinois in 1963 and '64 and went on to star for the Chicago Bears from 1965-73. Illinois has had two previous Butkus Award winners, Dana Howard in 1994 and Kevin Hardy in 1995. Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley won the award in 2013. The 2014 semifinalists will be named in late October, with finalists named in late November.

- Illinois sports communications

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