Butkus Award Semi-Finalists

Two University of Miami linebackers - junior middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma and junior weakside linebacker D.J. Williams - are among 11 semi-finalists for the 2002 Butkus Award, the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando (DACO), Inc., announced Thursday morning. The Butkus Award is awarded annually to the best linebacker in college football.

Jonathan Vilma and D.J. Williams have been key factors in Miami's 6-0 start, spearheading a defensive effort that has the top-ranked Hurricanes currently listed third nationally in total defense (264.17 yards allowed per game), leads the nation in passing yards allowed (117.83 yards per game), is fourth in pass efficiency defense (rating of 84.57), and ranks 14th nationally in scoring defense (16.83 points per game).

Vilma leads the Hurricanes in tackles with 55 through six games, including 29 unassisted stops. The junior from Coral Gables, Fla., also has forced two fumbles and recovered one fumble which he returned for a touchdown in Miami's 38-6 victory over Boston College.

Williams ranks second on the team in tackles with 47, including 21 solos stops. The junior from Pittsburg, Calif., has made seven tackles for losses, has one quarterback sack and has forced one fumble. Williams's forced fumble led directly to Vilma's touchdown in the Boston College game.

Miami is the only school in the nation to place two players among the 11 semi-finalists. Traditionally, 10 semi-finalists are named, but there was a tie for 10th place in the voting. This is the third time in four years that there have been more than 10 semi-finalists. The Butkus Award has been presented since 1985. The list was determined by confidential balloting of the 29-member Butkus Award Selection Committee, comprised of the nation's foremost media members. The Selection Committee made their selections from the initial Butkus Award Watch List of 67 college linebackers, which was announced back on August 22, 2002.

On Thursday, November 14, 2002, DACO will announce the three finalists for this year's Butkus Award at a national teleconference. The three Butkus Award finalists and their coaches will participate in the announcement. The 2001 Butkus Award winner will be announced at the Butkus Award Presentation Ceremony on Friday, December 13, 2002, by the award's namesake Dick Butkus.

The 11 semi-finalists (in alphabetical order) for the 2002 Butkus Award are:

1. Boss Bailey Georgia
2. Michael Boulware Florida State
3. Rod Davis Southern Mississippi
4. E.J. Henderson Maryland
5. Bradie James LSU
6. Derrick Johnson Texas
7. Teddy Lehman Oklahoma
8. Jonathan Vilma Miami
9. Courtney Watson Notre Dame
10. Matt Wilhelm Ohio State
11. D.J. Williams Miami

Canes Time Top Stories