UCLA's Eric Kendricks wins Butkus Award as top linebacker
Kendricks was presented the award by former NFL linebacker Dick Butkus and his son Matt in front of the team on Tuesday. The senior linebacker had 139 tackles, three interceptions and two sacks this season for the Bruins. He is the first Bruin to win the award.
The selection committee said it chose Kendricks because of his versatility and leadership on the field.
"This year's class of linebackers featured as many deserving candidates as ever before, perhaps lacking a truly distinguished standout, as evidenced by a race that was as close as any the past decade and included a record eight different write-in recipients. We commend Kendricks for his diagnostic skill, cover instincts, sideline-to-sideline pursuit and on-field leadership. The two-time captain will finish his career as the Bruins' all-time tackling leader.
"He has been overlooked much of his career despite being an extremely productive tackling machine and opportunistic playmaker against the run and pass. His exceptional instincts, motor, toughness and football intelligence distinguished his play. His integrity, selflessness and leadership embody what the Butkus Award represents."
Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley won the award last year and was a first-round draft choice by the Baltimore Ravens.
- Paul Palladino