Nebraska senior Lavonte David is one of six finalists for the Butkus Award, given to the nation's top linebacker. David is the only Big Ten player still in the mix for the award.
Here's the full list of finalists:
Lavonte David, Nebraska
Dont’a Hightower, Alabama
Courtney Upshaw, Alabama
Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Luke Kuechly, Boston College
Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
While Nebraska's defense has fallen short of expectations, David has been fabulous this season. He ranks third in the Big Ten with 114 tackles and has 10 tackles for loss, the fifth-highest total among Big Ten linebackers. He has added two interceptions, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
"We're proud of Lavonte and the way he plays," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said Tuesday. "He comes out every week and plays his butt off. I wouldn't trade him for any linebacker in the country. He's had a great year and been a leader on our football team. He's been a fun guy to coach."
I think David has a pretty good shot at this award. The Alabama players could cancel one another out. Kuechly has been awesome, but he plays for a bad team. Te'o and David are similar in that both have stood out for teams that have fallen a bit short of expectations.
As for Big Ten snubs, Penn State's Gerald Hodges and Wisconsin's Mike Taylor and Chris Borland both have been very good. All three players return next year and should get some preseason recognition for the Butkus.