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Ole Miss’ C.J. Johnson Named to Butkus Award Watch List

Senior C. J. Johnson  HottyToddy.com file photo
Senior C. J. Johnson
HottyToddy.com file photo

After making a position change from defensive end to Mike linebacker in the spring, Ole Miss senior C.J. Johnson is already expected to do big things in his new role, as evidenced by his inclusion on the Butkus Award preseason watch list Tuesday.

The 31st annual Butkus Award will go to the nation’s best collegiate linebacker.

Johnson is a fifth-year senior who played in every game with 12 starts at defensive end a year ago. He’s played defensive end throughout his Rebel career and hasn’t seen snaps at linebacker since his freshman year in 2011. The Philadelphia, Mississippi, native has 137 career tackles, including 24.0 for loss and 11.5 sacks. He is well known for his vocal leadership and superior knowledge of the Rebels’ defensive schemes.

Johnson has been tabbed a preseason All-SEC third teamer by Phil Steele, as well. Last year, he helped Ole Miss lead the nation in scoring defense (16.0 ppg allowed) while making 38 tackles, 8.0 TFLs, 4.0 sacks, two fumble recoveries and an interception.

The Butkus Award watch list contains 51 candidates, honoring the retired professional jersey of Dick Butkus, who is regarded by NFL Films as the best defensive player in football history. A selection panel of 51 deeply experienced coaches, evaluators and journalists will narrow the field by private ballot. Players who do not appear on the watch list are eligible for the award.

Semifinalists will be named Nov. 2, finalists Nov. 23, and winners will be notified on or before Dec. 8.

The Butkus Award was expanded in 2008 to honor linebackers at three levels (college, high school, professional) while helping spread the word about Butkus’ I Play Clean™ initiative which encourages teens to eat well, train hard, and play with attitude instead of resorting to steroids and related drugs.  More information is available at www.iplayclean.org and on Facebook at i.play.clean.

The Butkus Award, www.thebutkusaward.com 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 22 most prestigious awards in college football with 700 years of selection excellence. Visit www.NCFAA.org for more information.

Former Rebel great Patrick Willis won the 2006 Collegiate Butkus Award and also claimed the 2009 Professional Butkus Award as a San Francisco 49er.

Other preseason watch lists that have been announced:
– Tony Conner – Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Jim Thorpe Award
– Evan Engram – John Mackey Award
– Hugh Freeze – Dodd Trophy
– Will Gleeson – Ray Guy Award
– Robert Nkemdiche – Outland Trophy, Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Rotary Lombardi Award, Chuck Bednarik Award, Lott IMPACT Trophy
– Laquon Treadwell – Maxwell Award
– Laremy Tunsil – Outland Trophy, Rotary Lombardi Award
– Jaylen Walton – Paul Hornung Award

Follow Ole Miss Football on Twitter (@OleMissFB) and Facebook (Facebook.com/OleMissFootball), in addition to www.OleMissSports.com.

Courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics 

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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