Chicago, Ill. – University of Missouri senior linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (Jasper, Texas) has been named one of five finalists for the Butkus Award, which goes annually to the nation's top collegiate linebacker, as announced today by the Butkus Foundation.
Weatherspoon enters this Saturday's home finale against Iowa State with a team-best 93 tackles, including 12.0 tackles for loss and 3.5 quarterback sacks. His 9.3 tackles-per game average is currently 2nd-best in the Big 12 Conference, and 30th-best in the NCAA, while he also ranks 29th in the nation with his 1.25 tackles for loss average.
Mizzou's defense has made big strides in 2009, and that's largely due to Weatherspoon's leadership on and off the field. The Tigers enter Saturday's game ranked 39th in the nation in total defense, up significantly from 2008, when MU ended the year ranked 98th in the country in the same category. He's also the ringleader of a stout Tiger run defense which currently ranks 17th in the NCAA, allowing just 103.10 yards per game.
Weatherspoon has made 43 tackles in his last four games, including a 12-tackle day at Colorado on Oct. 31st when Mizzou held the Buffaloes to minus 14 net rushing yards – the lowest single-game total by a Tiger opponent since 1972. He made a crucial stop for a two-yard loss on a 4th-and-1 try by CU in Mizzou territory late in the game that helped seal the big road win. Weatherspoon also had 11 tackles against 3rd-ranked Texas, including three tackles for loss, with one sack of Texas' Colt McCoy, plus an interception of the Heisman candidate. In all, "Spoon" has had four double-digit tackle games in 2009, including a season-high 14 stops against Bowling Green in September.
With 395 career tackles entering Saturday's game against Iowa State, Weatherspoon ranks 3rd on Mizzou's career tackles list. He's 20 shy of reaching the number two spot (415 by DeMontie Cross from 1994-96) and 39 behind career record-holder James Kinney (434 from 2001-04).
Other finalists for the 2009 Butkus Award include Sergio Kindle of Texas, Rolando McClain of Alabama, Eric Norwood of South Carolina and Brandon Spikes of Florida.
The Butkus Award is selected by a 51-person panel comprised of NFL scouts, coaches and journalists, and coordinated by Hub Arkush of Pro Football Weekly. The award is named after legendary linebacker Dick Butkus, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979 after an illustrious career with the Chicago Bears.
The 2009 winner will be named on December 8th. For more information on the award, please visit www.thebutkusaward.com.
Mizzou Athletics Media Relations