IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa junior linebacker Josey Jewell is one of five finalists for the 2016 Butkus Award, the Butkus Foundation announced Monday. The Butkus Award is presented annually to the nation’s best linebacker.
This year’s finalists include five collegiate linebackers from two conferences. Jewell is the Big Ten’s only student-athlete up for the award. The remaining finalists all hail from the SEC, including LSU’s Kendall Beckwith, Vanderbilt’s Zach Cunningham, Jarrad Davis of Florida, and top-ranked Alabama’s Reuben Foster.
The 2016 Butkus Award winner will be announced on or before Dec. 6. Selection is handled by a panel of 51 coaches, recruiters, scouts and journalists who vote separately and confidentially using a 3-2-1 process.
Jewell (6-foot-2, 230-pounds) has started every game this season and leads the Big Ten with 105 tackles. Jewell matched his career high with 16 stops in Week 8 against No. 10 Wisconsin, and his 282 career tackles rank 19th in program history. Jewell, a native of Decorah, Iowa, is the anchor for the 12th-best red zone defense in the country. He is also a key part of a Hawkeye defense that is allowing just over 18 points per game, a total that ranks 15th-best nationally, and has recorded 16 takeaways (seven interceptions, nine fumble recoveries).
Former Hawkeye Larry Station was a finalist for the Butkus Award in 1985, while Chad Greenway was a semifinalist in 2005.
Jewell and the Hawkeyes (7-4, 5-3) host 15th-ranked Nebraska (9-2, 6-2) inside Kinnick Stadium on Friday, as part of the annual Hy-Vee Heroes Game. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. (CT). The game will be televised live on ABC.