Couple of Pirates Hijack Butkus Award Watch List


The Butkus Award list has a decidedly Eastern flavor to it. By that I mean that it includes two East Carolina Pirates on a list that is lacking in other North Carolina schools. Oh the ghost of Duke’s Kelby Brown is on the list too, but Brown will be watching Duke’s season from the sidelines with a clipboard. He will be unable to win the title of nation’s best linebacker, which the Butkus Award represents.

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The two Pirates on the list who can win the award are middle linebacker Zeek Bigger and outside linebacker Montese Overton. This is the second mention of Bigger on these preseason watch lists. He was previously included on the Bednarik Award Watch List for the best defensive player in college football.

Bigger and Overton represent different avenues on how to win the Butkus. Bigger is the roving middle linebacker who collects oodles of tackles. He might supplement those stats with a turnover or two and a couple sacks, but he will be making his best case if he ends up with something like 150 tackles this season. Bigger had 140 tackles and two picks last year. Three and a half of those tackles were for loss.

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Overton, on the other hand, will advance up these lists by becoming a sack artist. The athletic Overton can provide some good outside rush, but he was limited to three sacks last year. He will have to find better numbers than that to put next to the seventy odd tackles that he will accumulate. He did have eleven and a half tackles for loss last year.

Regardless of how well Bigger or Overton do in the final tally for the Butkus, it is clear that the East Carolina Pirates have a backbone of experience and talent in the linebacking corps. That defense will have a lot to say about how far the Pirates can go this season.

Next: Outland Trophy Watch List