Gates Lands on Butkus Award Watch List
July 18, 2017

2017 Butkus Award Watch List

Ole Miss senior DeMarquis Gates has been named to the 51-man watch list for the 2017 Butkus Award®, which honors the best linebacker in college football. 

Mirroring the legendary “51” pro jersey of the award’s namesake Dick Butkus, whom NFL Films considers the best defensive player in football history, the watch list features 51 players identified by a 51-person selection panel of deeply experienced coaches, talent evaluators and journalists. Appearance on the watch list is not required to become a winner.

Gates, who hails from Hampton, Georgia, has led the Rebels in tackles in each of the last two seasons, including 79 as a junior last fall. He ranked 10th among SEC players with 7.2 tackles per game and was second on the team in both sacks (4.0) and tackles for loss (5.5). He has played in 37 of the Rebels’ last 38 games and started 12 times at multiple linebacker spots.

Ole Miss has a long history of successful linebackers, including 2006 Butkus Award winner Patrick Willis.

The watch list includes candidates from 42 universities, including six returning semifinalists and one returning finalist, Josey Jewell of Iowa. 

Semifinalists will be named October 30, finalists November 20, and winners will be notified on or before December 5.

Formed in 1985, the Butkus Award was expanded in 2008 to honor linebackers at three levels while helping spread the word about Butkus’ I Play Clean™ initiative which encourages teens to eat well, train hard, and play with attitude instead of resorting to performance-enhancing drugs.

The Butkus Award, and on Facebook at 51.butkus, is presented by the Butkus Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization. Selection criteria is located on the official website. The Butkus Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) which encompasses college football’s most prestigious awards. Its 23 awards have honored more than 800 people since 1935. Visit for more information.

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