The Butkus Award finalists were announced Monday, November 22. University of Wisconsin Badgers linebacker Leo Chenal was a member of that list. This award is given annually to the top linebacker in high school, college, and professional football. According the The Butkus Award website, the winner will be chosen around December 7th.
UW is currently ranked No. 14 in the country. Chenal has been a huge part of their success, as he leads the Badgers with 92 total tackles. His 10.1 tackles per game ranks in the top 10 of all FBS. Meanwhile, he currently sits at 15.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks to go along with two forced fumbles. With a 91.5 defensive grade per PFF, Chenal is currently the second highest graded linebacker in FBS. Unfortunately, Chenal missed two games due to a positive COVID-19 test. It would be interesting to see how much better these numbers could have looked had he played in those games.
Being a finalist for the most prestigious defensive award in football doesn’t come without being in elite company. Joining Leo Chenal as finalists are Utah’s Devin Lloyd, Cincinnati’s Darrin Beavers, LSU’s Damone Clark, Georgia’s Nakobe Dean (#1 PFF), and Wyoming’s Chad Muma (#3 PFF).
Badgers History with Butkus Award
Wisconsin has never had a high school or collegiate player win the Butkus Award. However, UW had Zach Baun, TJ Edwards, Vince Biegel, and Chris Borland on the preseason watchlist or selected as a finalist over the last 10 years. Let it be known that each of these former players were drafted into the NFL.
These linebackers never won the award, but Wisconsin had a former player win the award in the NFL. Last season, TJ Watt brought home the Butkus Award as the best linebacker in all professional football. Watt recorded 53 tackles, 23 tackles for loss,15 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and one interception.