Talk about your obvious decisions — tonight Alabama’s Reuben Foster won the 2016 Dick Butkus award, honoring the nation’s best linebacker.
The MVP of the 2016 SEC Championship game has had a stellar season at Alabama. For the year he recorded 95 tackles (53 solo) 2 PBUs, 8 QB hurries, 4.0 sacks, and captained the defense.
The committee had this to say about Foster:
“Reuben Foster is a complete linebacker with the instincts, closing burst, explosion and on-field leadership traits that set the tone for the nation’s top defense. He is a fearless striker who plays the game with intensity and passion. The way he uncoils on contact and the way his teammates gravitate toward him are both reminiscent of Mr. Butkus. After finishing second to Jaylon Smith in the high school balloting four years ago, Foster distinguished himself in this year’s collegiate class.” [ed. note: Jaylon Smith won the 2015 award over Alabama’s Reggie Ragland.]
The committee and criteria are as follows:
“The Butkus Award® selection committee is comprised of football coaches, recruiters, talent scouts and journalists who study football talent yearlong. Selectors are asked to recognize qualities that defined Butkus’ career; toughness, on-field leadership, competitiveness, football character, and linebacking skills.”
Foster is widely expected to be the first linebacker off the board, over Raekwon McMillan (OSU,) Jarrad Davis (Florida,) and Zach Cunningham (Vanderbilt.) CBS Sports, NFLDraft Scout have him as the No. 1 linebacker for 2017, and Pro Football Focus has called him “the best, most complete linebacker in the game.”
No surprise, those players were also in the hunt for the award: “Runner-up was Zach Cunningham of Vanderbilt with 56 points and Jarrad Davis of Florida with 32 points. Rounding out the top five were LSU’s Kendall Beckwith and Iowa’s Josey Jewell. Those receiving write-in votes included Alabama's Ryan Anderson and Shaun Dion Hamilton, Ohio State's Raekwon McMillan and UCLA's Jayon Brown.”
Congratulations to Reuben Foster, Alabama’s fourth Butkus winner, joining C.J. Mosley, Rolando McClain, and the late, great Derrick Thomas -- exalted company indeed.
Roll Tide, Reuben.