Highsmith a semi-finalist for Butkus Trophy

LSU linebacker Ali Highsmith has been named as one of 10 semifinalists for the Butkus Award, the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando announced on Thursday.

The Butkus Award, named for legendary linebacker Dick Butkus, is given out each year to the top linebacker in college football.

Highsmith, a native of Miami, is in his third season as a starter for the Tigers. In seven games this year, Highsmith ranks second on the squad in tackles with 45 tackles, which includes five tackles for losses and a sack.

Highsmith is first on the team in pass breakups with six and he's also recorded a team-best six quarterback hurries to go with a forced fumble.

Through seven games, the fifth-ranked Tigers are No. 2 in the nation in total defense, allowing just 233.14 yards per game. LSU also ranks No. 4 nationally in pass defense (155.14 yards per game), No. 6 in scoring defense (14.14 points per game) and No. 7 in rushing defense (68.0 yards per game).

Other semifinalist for the Butkus Award include: Dan Connor of Penn State, Shawn Crable of Michigan, Jordon Dizon of Colorado, Erin Henderson of Maryland, James Laurinaitis of Ohio State, J. Leman of Illinois, Ben Moffitt of South Florida, Keith Rivers of USC, and Wesley Woodyard of Kentucky.

This list of semifinalists will be cut down to three finalists Thursday, November 9. The winner will be announced in December in Orlando. The independent Butkus Award Selection Committee for the 2007 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: Patrick Willis (2006-Mississippi); 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 Cal); 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).

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