HONOLULU, HI--(Marketwire - December 5, 2008) - The first-ever Butkus Award® honoring the nation's top high school linebacker was presented today to Manti Te'o, a senior at Punahou High School. The award was presented in-person by Dick Butkus, the award's namesake, in a surprise presentation at the school.

Te'o, the heavily recruited star of the state title-contending Punahou team, is considered one of the top high school players in any position by virtually every recruiting and rating organization. He was the "hands down winner," according to Pro Football Weekly, which supervised the 51-person selection panel of coaches, scouts, recruiters and journalists.

Beyond his accomplishments on the gridiron, Te'o has earned the rank of Eagle Scout with the Boy Scouts of America. He volunteers with charitable organizations, including Special Olympics, Hawaii Food Bank, Punahou Peer Mentoring program, Head Start, and the Hawaii Shriners' Hospital.

"After meeting Manti in person, I am delighted with his selection and believe he will serve as a tremendous role model for many who follow," said Butkus, who is considered one of the greatest football players of all time.

Traditionally given only to the top collegiate linebacker, the Butkus Award was expanded to include high school and professional categories this year as part of a makeover by the Butkus family, who received control of the Butkus Award property earlier this year.

Butkus described the award's purpose: "When a player receives the Butkus Award, he will know two things. First, he is recognized as the best of the best linebackers in America. Second, and in the long run most important, he will understand that this recognition brings a responsibility to serve others by giving back."

The collegiate Butkus Award will be presented next week, and the professional Butkus Award in January. A reception honoring all three winners and promoting Butkus' I Play Clean™ campaign is planned for January 13 in Butkus' hometown of Chicago. Tickets and sponsorship information is available at www.thebutkusaward.com

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.

NOTE: Selectors follow all rules of their leagues, and individual votes remain confidential.

Contact Information: Contact: Ron Arp