Orange linebacker Mikel Jones is on the Preseason Watch List for the Butkus Award, which is presented annually to the nation’s top linebacker.
Jones is one-of-seven ACC players on the list, which features a total of 51 selections. The 51 preseason selections were made by a panel of 51 coaches, scouts and journalists, corresponding with Dick Butkus’ pro jersey number.
After leading all linebackers nationally with four interceptions last season, Jones earned the preseason notoriety by being one-of-two players nationally to create eight separate takeaways (interception, fumble recovery, forced fumble recovered by the defense) last season. He finished the year with 69 tackles, 2.0 TFLs, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries to compliment the ACC-leading four picks.
An honorable mention All-ACC selection last season, his strong sophomore season followed a rookie year that saw him earn Pro Football Focus Freshman All-America honors in 2019. He enters the 2021 season with 12-straight starts at linebacker.
Being on the watch list is not a prerequisite for winning the award, thus the Butkus Foundation does not update its watch list throughout the season. Semifinalists are expected to be named on Nov. 1, finalists on Nov. 22 and the winners will be on or before Dec. 7.