UCLA's Myles Jack, Eric Kendricks are Butkus semifinalists

Three sets of teammates are among the 15 semifinalists named Monday for the Butkus Award, given annually to the nation's top college linebacker.

UCLA's Myles Jack and Eric Kendricks, Washington's Hau'oli Kikaha and Shaq Thompson and Georgia's Jordan Jenkins and Ramik Wilson make up 40 percent of the semifinalists.

The two Georgia players are joined by three other SEC players as semifinalists: Tennessee's A.J. Johnson, Mississippi State's Benardrick McKinney and Alabama's Reggie Ragland. The Pac-12 also has five semifinalists, with USC's Hayes Pullard joining the teammates from UCLA and Washington.

The other semifinalists are Clemson's Stephone Anthony, Miami's Denzel Perryman, Michigan's Jake Ryan, Notre Dame's Jaylon Smith and Oklahoma's Eric Striker.

The finalists will be named Nov. 24 and the winner on Dec. 9; voting is done by a panel of scouts, coaches and journalists.

Past winners include Alabama's C.J. Mosley in 2013, Boston College's Luke Kuechly in 2011, Mississippi's Patrick Willis in 2006 and Oklahoma's Brian Bosworth in 1985 and '86. Bosworth is the only two-time winner.

Among the semifinalists, Kendricks is the leading tackler with 93, which is seventh nationally; his average of 11.6 tackles per game ranks eighth nationally. Johnson is the only other finalist who is in the top 45 in tackles.

Kikaha leads the nation in both sacks (14.5) and tackles for loss (19.5). He has had at least one sack in each of the Huskies' eight games, including 2.5 against Oregon and two against Arizona State. Thompson leads the nation with four defensive touchdowns: three fumble returns and one interception return. He and Jack also have seen time at running back for their respective teams.

The biggest snubs: Texas' Jordan Hicks, who has 96 tackles and seven tackles for loss; Penn State's Mike Hull, who has 83 stops and seven TFLs; and Louisville's Lorenzo Mauldin, who has 11.5 tackles for loss and six sacks. Louisville leads the nation in total defense, while Penn State is seventh.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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