Borland, Shazier are Butkus semifinalists

Linebacker has been arguably the strongest position in the Big Ten this year, so it's no surprise that the league has two semifinalists for the Dick Butkus Award. In fact, the Big Ten might have deserved even more.

The award honoring the nation's top linebacker announced its 12 semifinalists on Monday. The list:

* -- last year's winner

Borland and Shazier are very worthy honorees and strong candidates for the Big Ten defensive player of the year award. It's an impressive group nationally, too. Nebraska found out how good Barr was, and Mack went into beast mode against Ohio State earlier this season. Fortt is a Penn State transfer who faced both Northwestern and Ohio State this year.

There were others from the Big Ten who seem deserving as well, such as Michigan State's Max Bullough, Iowa's James Morris and Illinois' Jonathan Brown. The battle for the three spots at linebacker on the All-Big Ten first team will be a fun one to watch.