Since 2010, Utah has had six linebackers taken in the NFL draft, one of the top numbers in the Pac-12 conference. Yet despite churning out NFL-quality players year-in and year-out, no Ute has ever won the Butkus Award, given annually to the nation's top linebacker.
Devin Lloyd is looking to change all of that this season.
Utah's junior linebacker has been named a semifinalist for the Butkus Award, announced on Monday.
Lloyd is one of 16 semifinalists up for the award — but most impressively is the only player from the Pac-12 represented on the list. The finalists for the award will be announced on Dec. 7, with the winner announced no later than Dec. 22.
After losing nine starters from the defense to the NFL this past season, the outlook for the Utes on that side of the ball wasn't ideal. But Lloyd's play, presence and leadership is largely why the defense has more than done its job, forcing five turnovers through two games and keeping the team in each game.
Through two games this season, Lloyd leads the teams with 22 tackles. He is tied for second in the Pac-12 and 14th in the FBS in tackles per game (11.0), and tied for fifth in the Pac-12 and 14th in the FBS in solo tackles per game (6.0).
Last season as a sophomore, Lloyd broke out in a big way when he was named to the all-Pac-12 honorable mention team after racking up a team-high 91 tackles for one of the best defenses in the nation.
He started all 14 games at rover linebacker, adding 6.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss, both of which ranked second on the Utes and within the top-10 in the conference.
Out of Otay Ranch High School in Chula Vista, Calif and prior to last season, Lloyd appeared in all 14 games as a redshirt freshman. Although he did see action in all of the games during the season, they all came on special teams as he only appeared in three games on defense.
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