Butkus Award
Awarded forGiven to the best linebackers at the high school, collegiate and professional levels of football
CountryUnited States
Presented byDowntown Athletic Club of Orlando (1985–2007)
Butkus Foundation (2008–present)
First award1985
Most recent

The Butkus Award, instituted in 1985 by the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando, is given annually to the top linebackers at the high school, collegiate and professional levels of football. The award, named in honor of College Football Hall of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus, is presented by the Butkus Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports a number of health and wellness activities including the "I Play Clean" anti-steroid program. The award was first established by the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando, which relinquished control of the award in 2008 following a lawsuit by Butkus.[1]

Traditionally, the award was given only to the top collegiate linebacker. The Butkus Award was expanded in 2008 to include high school and professional winners[2] as part of a makeover by the Butkus family to help end anabolic steroid abuse among young athletes. Three players have won both the high school and collegiate Butkus Awards: Notre Dame linebackers Manti Te'o (2008, 2012) and Jaylon Smith (2012, 2015) and also Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean (2018, 2021). Four players have won both the collegiate and professional Butkus Awards: San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis (2006, 2009), Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller (2010, 2012), Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly (2011, 2014, 2015, 2017), and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Roquan Smith (2017, 2022)


Collegiate winners

Year Player School
1985 Brian Bosworth Oklahoma
1986 Brian Bosworth Oklahoma (2)
1987 Paul McGowan Florida State
1988 Derrick Thomas Alabama
1989 Percy Snow Michigan State
1990 Alfred Williams Colorado
1991 Erick Anderson Michigan
1992 Marvin Jones Florida State (2)
1993 Trev Alberts Nebraska
1994 Dana Howard Illinois
1995 Kevin Hardy Illinois (2)
1996 Matt Russell Colorado (2)
1997 Andy Katzenmoyer Ohio State
1998 Chris Claiborne USC
1999 LaVar Arrington Penn State
2000 Dan Morgan Miami
2001 Rocky Calmus Oklahoma (3)
2002 E. J. Henderson Maryland
2003 Teddy Lehman Oklahoma (4)
2004 Derrick Johnson Texas
2005 Paul Posluszny Penn State (2)
2006 Patrick Willis Ole Miss
2007 James Laurinaitis Ohio State (2)
2008 Aaron Curry Wake Forest
2009 Rolando McClain Alabama (2)
2010 Von Miller Texas A&M
2011 Luke Kuechly Boston College
2012 Manti Te'o Notre Dame
2013 C.J. Mosley Alabama (3)
2014 Eric Kendricks UCLA
2015 Jaylon Smith[3] Notre Dame (2)
2016 Reuben Foster[4] Alabama (4)
2017 Roquan Smith Georgia
2018 Devin White LSU
2019 Isaiah Simmons[5] Clemson
2020 Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah Notre Dame (3)
2021 Nakobe Dean Georgia (2)
2022 Jack Campbell Iowa

Professional winners

Luke Kuechly holds the record for most wins by a player with four awards (one in college and three in the pros).
Luke Kuechly holds the record for most wins by a player with four awards (one in college and three in the pros).
Year Player Team
2008 DeMarcus Ware[2] Dallas Cowboys
2009 Patrick Willis[6] San Francisco 49ers
2010 Clay Matthews III[7] Green Bay Packers
2011 Terrell Suggs[7] Baltimore Ravens
DeMarcus Ware[7] Dallas Cowboys
2012 Von Miller[7] Denver Broncos
2013 NaVorro Bowman[7] San Francisco 49ers
2014 Luke Kuechly[8] Carolina Panthers
2015 Luke Kuechly[7] Carolina Panthers
2016 Khalil Mack[9] Oakland Raiders
2017 Luke Kuechly[7] Carolina Panthers
2018 Khalil Mack[10] Chicago Bears
2019 Chandler Jones[7] Arizona Cardinals
2020 T. J. Watt[7] Pittsburgh Steelers
2021 Micah Parsons[7] Dallas Cowboys
2022 Roquan Smith[7] Baltimore Ravens

High school winners

Year Player School
2008 Manti Te'o Punahou School (Honolulu, HI)
2009 Jordan Hicks Lakota West High School (West Chester, OH)
2010 Tony Steward Pedro Menendez High School (St. Augustine, FL)
2011 Noor Davis Leesburg High School (Leesburg, FL)
2012 Jaylon Smith Bishop Luers High School (Fort Wayne, IN)
2013 Raekwon McMillan Liberty County High School (Hinesville, GA)
2014 Malik Jefferson Ralph H. Poteet High School (Mesquite, TX)
2015 Caleb Kelly Clovis West High School (Fresno, CA)
2016 Dylan Moses IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL)
2017 Solomon Tuliaupupu Mater Dei High School (Santa Ana, CA)
2018 Nakobe Dean Horn Lake High School (Horn Lake, MS)
2019 Justin Flowe Upland High School (Upland, CA)
2020 Prince Kollie David Crockett High School (Jonesborough, TN)
2021 Shawn Murphy[11] Unity Reed High School (Manassas, VA)
2022 Drayk Bowen Andrean High School (Merrillville, IN)


  1. ^ Schmadtke, Alan (April 29, 2008). "Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando relinquishes rights to the Dick Butkus Award". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved April 8, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Archer, Todd (January 9, 2009). "Dallas Cowboys' Ware wins Butkus Award". Dallasnews.com: the Dallas Morning News website. Belo Corporation. Retrieved January 11, 2009.
  3. ^ Skrbina, Paul (December 8, 2015). "Notre Dame's Jaylon Smith named Butkus Award winner". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  4. ^ Potter, Charlie (December 5, 2016). "Alabama LB Reuben Foster named 2016 Butkus Award winner". CBS Sports. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  5. ^ Lentz, Zach (December 8, 2019). "Simmons Wins 2019 Butkus Award". si.com. Sports Illustrated. Retrieved December 8, 2019.
  6. ^ OleMissSports.com: Willis Wins Butkus Award As Collegian And Pro Archived January 5, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Past Winners". www.thebutkusaward.com.
  8. ^ "Former BC great Kuechly wins second Butkus Award". Fox Sports. May 12, 2015. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  9. ^ http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/khalil-mack-receives-pro-butkus-awardr-2221970.htm[dead link]
  10. ^ Finley, Patrick (June 4, 2019). "Bears OLB Khalil Mack wins pro Butkus Award". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved June 4, 2019.
  11. ^ Pascal, Evan (7 December 2021). "Prince William County's Shawn Murphy wins Butkus Award as nation's top prep linebacker". WJLA. Retrieved 4 April 2022.