Courtesy of UK Athletics:
LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky senior linebacker Avery Williamson, who finished second in the Southeastern Conference and seventh nationally in tackles last season, has been named to the 2013 Butkus Award Preseason Watch List, which annually honors the nation’s best linebacker, the Butkus Foundation announced Monday.
The watch list contains 51 collegiate players from 37 universities, honoring the now-retired professional football jersey number of Dick Butkus, who is regarded by NFL Films as the best defensive player in football history. The selection panel is comprised of 51 coaches, evaluators and journalists. Players who do not appear on the watch list may be considered for the award.
C.J. Mosley of Alabama is the only returning finalist, along with returning semifinalists Jonathan Brown of Illinois, Max Bullough of Michigan State and Trent Murphy of Stanford. Williamson is one of nine SEC players on the prestigious list.
Williamson had a breakout junior season in 2012, earning All-SEC honors from Phil Steele's College Football and CollegeSportsMadness.com. The native of Milan, Tenn., is the returning starter at middle linebacker after finishing second in the SEC and seventh nationally in tackles last season. Williamson, who has played in 37 career games, started all 12 games for UK last season, posting eight double-digit tackle games, including a career-best 20 against Vanderbilt. The physical linebacker had a streak of four games with a least 13 tackles, becoming the first Wildcat to do so since Randy Holleran in 1990. Williamson also had 4.5 tackles-for-loss, three sacks, four pass breakups, two fumbles caused, one fumble recovery and an interception last season.