Ben West Named to 2003 Butkus Award Watch List

Minnesota linebacker Ben West is among 90 nominees listed for the 2003 Butkus Award, which is annually presented to the nation's top collegiate linebacker. West, a 6-2, 240-pound senior, was honored as one of 10 Big Ten linebackers named to the Butkus Award Watch List. He is originally from Appleton (WI) North.

Ben West, a former walk-on, started all 13 games at middle linebacker for the Golden Gophers in 2002, finishing second on the team with 103 tackles. He finished third on the team and first among linebackers with seven tackles-for-loss in 2002. West is ranked as the 18th-best linebacker in the nation and a preseason All-Big Ten choice by Lindy's.

The Butkus Award was established in 1985 by the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando. The watch list will be trimmed to 10 semi-finalists on Oct. 16 and that list will be cut down to three finalists on Nov. 13. The winner will be announced on December 12 at the Butkus Award Gala in Orlando, Florida.

The Big Ten's list of honorees besides West also includes Iowa's Grant Steen, Michigan's Carl Diggs, Northwestern's Pat Durr, Penn State's Gino Capone and Derek Wake, Purdue's Landon Johnson and Niko Koutouvides and Wisconsin's Alex Lewis and Jeff Mack. The Big Ten's total nominees ranked second only to the SEC, which boasted 13 candidates.

West becomes the fourth Golden Gopher to be named to a watch list for a 2003 postseason award. Senior quarterback Asad Abdul-Khaliq is on the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award Watch List, senior tight end Ben Utecht is on the John Mackey Award list and sophomore center Greg Eslinger is on the Rimington Trophy list.

The full 2003 Butkus Award Watch List is available on-line at www.butkusaward.org.

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