UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks won the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker Tuesday, giving the Bruins program its first-ever Butkus winner, and the first for the Pac-12 Conference since former Detroit Lions first-round pick Chris Claiborne took the honor at Southern Cal in 1998.
Kendricks (6-foot-0, 230 pounds) made 139 tackles for the Bruins with three interceptions and two sacks, marking his third straight season of more than 100 tackles. The fifth-year senior has been projected as high as a second-round pick for the 2015 NFL Draftby both seniorbowl.com and an NFL scout who spoke to the Times.
One of Kendricks' teammates, UCLA linebacker Myles Jack, was a finalist for the award along with Penn State's Mike Hull, Clemson's Stephone Anthony, Mississippi State's Benardrick McKinney, TCU's Paul Dawson, Tennessee's A.J. Johnson and Nevada's Zach Vigil. Five of the last six Butkus Award winners have gone on to be first-round draft picks: Aaron Curry, Rolando McClain, Von Miller, Luke Kuechly and C.J. Mosley.