SOUTH BEND, IN--(Marketwired - Dec 8, 2015) - The 31st annual collegiate Butkus Award® honoring the nation's best collegiate linebacker was presented today to Jaylon Smith, a junior at Notre Dame. 

The award was presented at a surprise event before coaches, players and family at a football practice today involving Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus and his son Matt, who was on hand to present the trophy.

Smith of Notre Dame received 89 overall points in the Butkus voting, followed by senior Reggie Ragland of Alabama (61 points) and sophomore Raekwon McMillan of Ohio State (20 points).

Others receiving votes included Leonard Floyd of Georgia and Deion Jones of Louisiana State University, and write-in votes for Tyler Matakevich of Temple, Kentrell Brothers of Missouri, Anthony Walker of Northwestern and Antonio Morrison of Florida.

Smith becomes just the second person to have won the high school and collegiate Butkus Award, along with Notre Dame alumnus Manti Te'o who currently is a starting linebacker for the San Diego Chargers.

The selection committee stated: "Jaylon Smith is an exceptional athlete with the instincts, explosion and striking ability that can tilt the field. He can rush the passer, cover receivers and consistently makes his presence felt all over the field against the run. He's an impact player who leads by example and is as talented as any college linebacker to win the award the last decade."

"Reggie Ragland is a very physical, well-rounded football player who also generated many first-place votes for his tenacity and playing strength. He's a hammering hitter. It became a two-man race between Smith and Ragland after Myles Jack suffered a knee injury early in the season."

The Butkus Award® selection committee is comprised of football coaches, recruiters, talent scouts and journalists who study football talent yearlong. They follow a 3-2-1 voting procedure and are afforded write-in opportunities for any linebacker who does not make the finalist cut.

Selectors are asked to recognize the qualities that defined Butkus' career, heavily factoring the following five traits: toughness (physicality and mental perseverance), on-field leadership (intimidating presence and respected tone-setter), competitiveness (intensity, football temperament and relentless effort), football character (work ethic, drive and determination) and most fundamentally, linebacking skills (instincts, tackling, filling, angles, balance, knee bend, blitzing, shedding, playmaking and cover skills), especially in critical situations.

Last year's collegiate winner was Eric Kendricks of UCLA, who is now part of the Minnesota Vikings.

A Butkus Award high school winner will be named later in December, and the pro winner will be named in January 2016.

Created in 1985, the Butkus Award was expanded in 2008 to honor linebackers at three levels while spreading the word about Butkus' I Play Clean™ initiative which encourages teens to eat well, train hard, and play with attitude instead of using performance-enhancing drugs. The I Play Clean initiative is supported in part by the NFL and NFL Players Association Research and Education Foundation. More information is available at and on facebook at

The Butkus Award, and on facebook at 51.butkus, is presented by the Butkus Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization. The Butkus Award is part of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) which includes the 21 most prestigious awards in college football with 678 years of selection excellence. Visit for more information.

Contact Information:

Ron Arp