Ohio State linebacker commits C.J. Hicks and Gabe Powers were among the 51 players named this week to the preseason watch list for the Butkus Award, which is presented annually to the top linebacker at the high school, collegiate and professional levels of football.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Hicks, who is considered the second-best linebacker and No. 16 prospect overall in the class of 2022, committed to the Buckeyes in May 2020. He has been dubbed "Captain Buckeye" for his efforts on the recruiting trail, as Ohio State currently sits atop SI All-American's team recruiting rankings.
Hicks recorded 61 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and one interception that he returned for a touchdown to lead Kettering Archbishop Alter to the state semifinals last season. He was subsequently named the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association Division III Southwest District Player of the Year and first-team all-state.
The 6-foot-4 and 230-pound Powers, meanwhile, is considered the fifth-best linebacker and No. 48 prospect overall in the 2022 recruiting cycle. He pledged his services to the Buckeyes last August, giving the program commitments from the top two players in the state.
Powers was also named the Division I Defensive Player of the Year and first-team all-state after leading Marysville to the second round of the state playoffs last fall. He finished the year 61 tackles, six tackles for loss, four sacks, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and an interception.
Traditionally, the Butkus Award was only give to the top linebacker in college football but was expanded in 2008 to include high school and professional winners.
Former Ohio State linebackers Andy Katzenmoyer and James Laurinaitis are the only players in school history to win the college award, doing so in 1997 and 2007, respectively. No future or former Buckeye has won the high school or professional award, however.
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