Maualuga, Cushing Named Finalists For Butkus Award

Nov. 28, 2008

USC senior linebackers Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing have been named finalists for the Butkus Award, given to the nation's top linebacker.

The winner will be announced the week of Dec. 8, with the presentation banquet set for Jan. 13 in Chicago. A high school honoree and professional honoree will also be named.

Joining Maualuga and Cushing as finalists are: Alabama's Rolando McClain, Boston College's Mark Herzlich, Florida's Brandon Spikes, Georgia's Rennie Curran, LSU's Perry Riley and Darry Beckwith, Missouri's Sean Witherspoon, Oho State's James Laurinaitis (he was the 2007 Butkus winner), Virginia's Clint Sintim and Wake Forest's Aaron Curry.

Maualuga, a 2-time All-Pac-10 first teamer who is also a 2008 Lombardi Award and Bronko Nagurski Trophy finalist, leads USC with 66 tackles and has also intercepted two passes (including a 48-yarder for a touchdown in a victory over Ohio State).

Cushing, the 2007 Rose Bowl Defensive MVP who was a semifinalist for the 2008 Lombardi Award and quarterfinalist for the Lott Trophy, has 60 tackles this season, including 8 for losses (2.5 sacks), plus 4 deflections, an interception and a forced fumble.

The duo spearheads a USC defense that is ranked second nationally in total defense, first in scoring defense, sixth in rushing defense, and first in pass defense and pass efficiency defense. The Trojans have allowed just 10 touchdowns in 2008 and 83 total points (only 19 points in second halves of games), and have posted three shutouts. Eight of USC's 10 opponents in 2008 have been limited to 100 or less rushing yards and under 250 total yards.

The Butkus Award is selected by a 51-person panel comprised of scouts, coaches and journalists, and coordinated by Hub Arkush of Pro Football Weekly. Selectors follow all rules of their leagues, including NFL coaches avoiding contact with collegiate candidates, and collegiate coaches avoiding contact and not voting on high school candidates. Individual votes remain confidential.

'This Award is about honoring linebackers, and reminding them that they have a responsibility to serve as role models and to give back to society,' said Dick Butkus, the award's namesake.

Considered one of the greatest football players in history, Butkus was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979, following an illustrious career with the Chicago Bears, University of Illinois and Chicago Vocational School. Meanwhile, his son, Matt, was a defensive lineman for USC's 1990 Rose Bowl winning team, and joins his father in philanthropic efforts. Butkus wants the Award to draw attention to the I Play Clean campaign, which aims to end steroid use in organized sports.

Ticket and sponsor information for the Jan. 13 Chicago banquet will be available soon at www.thebutkusaward.com or by emailing rarp@butkusfoundation.org.

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