Notre Dame LB Jaylon Smith wins Butkus Award

Notre Dame's Jaylon Smith was announced Tuesday as the Butkus Award winner. The honor goes to the top linebacker in college football.

The Fighting Irish junior is among the top pro prospects at his position, and anchored the ND defense with a team-high 113 tackles (tied for 22nd in the FBS), including nine tackles for loss.

Smith will decide in the coming weeks whether to apply for early eligibility into the 2016 NFL Draft. He was among five Notre Dame underclassmen to submit for feedback from the NFL Draft Advisory Board. Underclassmen face a Jan. 18 deadline to apply for early draft entry.

There were four other finalists for the Butkus Award -- LSU's Deion Jones, Georgia's Leonard Floyd, Alabama's Reggie Ragland and Ohio State's Raekwon McMillan.

The Butkus Award has gone to a Notre Dame player in two of the past four years -- the Chargers' Manti Te'o received the honor in 2012, his final season with the the Fighting Irish. Other past winners of the award include Eric Kendricks (2014), Von Miller (2010), Patrick Willis (2006) and NFL Media's LaVar Arrington (1999).

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter *@ChaseGoodbread*.

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