Athens, GA - Georgia junior Justin Houston has been named one of five finalists for the 26th-annual Butkus Award, which is given to the nation’s top linebacker.
Houston is one of only five finalists who have been picked from the initial Watch List of 51 players. A panel of 51 coaches, scouts and journalists supervised by Hub Arkush of Pro Football Weekly selected the finalists. Winners will be announced between Dec. 5-8.
The four other finalists include a pair of players from the ACC (North Carolina senior Bruce Carter, Boston College sophomore Luke Kuechly) along with UCLA junior Akeem Ayers and Texas A&M senior Von Miller.
Houston, a 6-3, 258-pound native of Statesboro, remains the SEC leader in sacks by 2.0 with 10.0 and is second in the league with 17.5 tackles for loss. He is third on Georgia’s defense with 50 tackles this season.
Playing his first season at outside linebacker after lining up as defensive end his first three years, Houston has the most sacks and tackles for loss of any active SEC player and has recorded at least one tackle for loss in all 11 games this year.
Thanks in part of Houston’s presence, the Bulldogs have forced 20 turnovers and converted them into 80 points. Georgia’s turnover margin (+8) is second in the SEC and is tied for 18th in the nation.
Houston has already been named one of five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and he was one of 16 semifinalists for the Bednarik Award earlier this season.
The Bulldogs (5-6, 3-5 SEC) host Georgia Tech (6-5, 4-4 ACC) on Nov. 27 at 7:45 p.m. Georgia’s game will be televised on ESPN, which is the second time the network has covered the Bulldogs this season.