CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwire - November 27, 2008) - Finalists were named today for the 24th Annual Butkus Award® honoring the nation's top football linebackers.

The 12 collegiate finalists from 10 institutions include last year's winner James Laurinaitis from Ohio State University. Meanwhile, the first-ever high school category includes 12 candidates from high schools in eight states.

Winners in both categories are expected to be announced the week of December 8, and a professional honoree will be selected in early January. A celebration reception is planned for January 13, 2009 in Chicago with ticket and sponsor information available soon at or by emailing

Collegiate finalists: Rolando McClain, Alabama; Mark Herzlich, Boston College; Brandon Spikes, Florida; Rennie Curran, Georgia; Perry Riley and Darry Beckwith, LSU; Sean WItherspoon, Missouri; James Laurinaitis, Ohio State; Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing, USC; Clint Sintim, Virginia; Aaron Curry, Wake Forest.

High school finalists: Nico Johnson, Andalusia High School, Andalusia, Ala.; Tana Patrick, North Jackson High School, Stevenson, Ala.; Marquis Simmons, Dominguez High School, Compton, Calif.; Frankie Telfort, Gulliver Prep, Miami, Fla.; Willie Ferrell, FAMU High School, Tallahassee, Fla.; C.J. Mizell, Leon High School, Tallahassee, Fla.; Jarvis Jones, Carver High School, Columbus, Ga.; Kevin Minter, Peachtree Ridge High School, Suwanee, Ga.; Manti Te'o, Punahou High School, Honolulu, Hi.; Jelani Jenkins, Our Lady of Good Counsel, Wheaton, Md.; Chris Norman, Renaissance High School, Detroit, Mich.; Dorian Bell, Gateway High School, Monroeville, Pa.

The Butkus Award is selected by a 51-person panel comprised mostly of scouts, coaches and journalists, and coordinated by Hub Arkush of Pro Football Weekly. Selectors follow all rules of their leagues, including NFL coaches avoiding contact with collegiate candidates, and collegiate coaches avoiding contact and not voting on high school candidates. Individual votes remain confidential.

"This Award is about honoring linebackers, and reminding them that they have a responsibility to serve as role models and to give back to society," said Dick Butkus, the award's namesake.

Considered one of the greatest football players in history, Butkus was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979, following an illustrious career with the Chicago Bears, University of Illinois and Chicago Vocational School. Meanwhile, his son Matt was a defensive lineman for the University of Southern California's 1990 Rose Bowl winning team, and joins his father in philanthropic efforts. Butkus wants the Award to draw attention to the I Play Clean™ campaign, which aims to end steroid use in organized sports.

Contact Information: Ron Arp 360.601.2991