Georgia’s Nakobe Dean wins 2021 Butkus Award as nation’s top linebacker
ATHENS, Ga. – Georgia junior Nakobe Dean has become the second Bulldog to win the Butkus Award, given to the nation’s best collegiate linebacker.
Dean, a native of Horn Lake, Miss., garnered 34 percent of the weighted vote and 52 percent of the first-place votes to secure the award. He was chosen from the other finalists consisting of Utah’s Devin Lloyd, Wisconsin’s Leo Chenal, LSU’s Damone Clark, Cincinnati’s Darrian Beavers and Wyoming’s Chad Muma, according to an announcement from the Butkus Foundation.
Dean joins Roquan Smith (2017) as the two Bulldogs to win the Butkus Award in its 37-year history since 1985. There have been four other Bulldog finalists five different years in recent history, including Monty Rice (2020), Leonard Floyd (2015), Jarvis Jones (2011, 2012) and Justin Houston (2010).
Capturing the high school award in 2018, Dean joins only Manti Te’o and Jaylon Smith as the only players to win both the national high school and collegiate trophies.
“Nakobe Dean is a playmaker with a special combination of strength, coverage ability, playmaking flair and leadership skill,” according to the award selection committee. “He consistently makes his presence felt on the field and in the community, elevates the defense with his command and is a complete linebacker who has made a tremendous impact on Georgia’s program.”
Also a member of the 2021 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team and a finalist for the Wuerffel Trophy, Dean is tied for the team lead with 61 stops, including a team-high 8.5 tackles for loss and five sacks, and has two forced fumbles. In addition, he has two of the team’s interceptions this season, including a 50-yard pick-six versus Florida.
Dean has been the “field general” to a Bulldog squad that leads the country in Scoring Defense (9.5 points/game) and Red Zone Defense (60 percent), is second in Total Defense (254.4 yards/game) and ranks third nationally in Passing Yards Allowed (172.7 y/g) and in Rushing Defense (81.7 y/g).
The Bulldogs (12-1) now travel to Miami, Fla., to face Michigan (12-1) in the College Football Playoff’s semifinal round in the Capital One Orange Bowl on Friday, Dec. 31. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by ESPN. Georgia is the No. 3 seed while Michigan is the No. 2 seed in Sunday’s CFP rankings.
The Butkus Award® selection committee is comprised of 51 football coaches, recruiters, talent scouts and journalists who study football talent yearlong. Selectors are asked to recognize qualities that defined Butkus’ career: toughness, on-field leadership, competitiveness, football character and linebacking skills. They follow a 3-2-1 weighted vote in a confidential ballot.
The Butkus Award® is presented by the Butkus Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization which advances health and wellness through special initiatives. This includes the I Play Clean® program encouraging athletes to play using their natural ability, and the Butkus Takes Heart™ program encouraging preventive heart scans and screening among adults.
The Butkus Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) which encompasses college football’s most prestigious awards. NCFAA’s 25 awards have honored more than 800 since 1935.