Aug. 13, 2008
Berkeley - Senior linebackers Zack Follett and Worrell Williams of the California football team were both selected to the annual Butkus Award Watch List announced on Wednesday. A total off 66 linebackers from across the nation were tabbed on the list, including nine from the Pac-10.
A hard-hitting product of Fresno, Follett has been Cal's sack-leader in each of the last two years, to go along with eight career forced fumbles. He is also on this year's preseason Watch Lists for the Ronnie Lott IMPACT Trophy (defensive player who excels on and off the field), the Bronco Nagurski Trophy (nation's top defensive player) and the Chuck Bednarik Award (also for top defensive player). Last season, Follett earned All-Pac-10 Second Team honors after totaling 64 tackles with a team-best 12.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks despite missing the second half of the Louisiana Tech game and all of the Arizona and Oregon games due to injury. Follett also earned conference honors his sophomore campaign and freshman All-America honors in 2005.
A three-year starter and pre-season All-America selection by Phil Steele's magazine, Williams led the Bears in forced fumbles (3) while ranking second with 105 tackles (eighth in the Pac-10) and 8.5 tackles for loss (second on the team) in 2007. The 250-pound native of Sacramento played in all 13 games with 11 starts last season, including a memorable game in the opener against Tennessee where he registered nine tackles in the victory, while recovering a fumble on the opening drive and returning it 44 yards for his first career touchdown.
Instituted in 1985, The Butkus Award has been given annually to the top linebacker in college football. The Award, named in honor of Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus, is regarded as one of the elite individual honors in college football. This year, the Butkus family has taken stewardship of the Butkus Award to fully realize its original purpose of honoring athletic achievement and service to the community. It will be presented by the Butkus Foundation, a registered 501 c (3) non-profit organization, and will be expanded to honor the nation's best high school and professional linebackers. The Butkus Award will be presented January 13, 2009, at the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in Chicago.
An independent Butkus Award Selection Committee, headed by Pro Football Weekly's Hub Arkush and comprised of 51 experts including professional, college and high school scouts, and prominent sports journalists, will conduct the selection process.