Monheim Named to Butkus Award Watch List

July 14, 2014

Butkus Award Watch List | CFPA Tight End Award Watch List | Buy Season Tickets

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois junior linebacker Mason Monheim has been named to the preseason watch list for the 2014 Butkus Award, given annually to the top linebacker in major college football and named for former Fighting Illini Dick Butkus. Monheim is one of five Big Ten linebackers on the 51-player watch list, giving Illinois a player on the list for the third-straight season and eight of the last nine.

Monheim has been a key contributor for the Illini in his first two seasons and will assume an even larger role after the graduation of former Butkus Award semifinalist Jonathan Brown in 2013. Monheim was a Freshman All-American in 2012 after becoming the first true-freshman to lead the Illini in tackles with 86. He finished ninth in the Big Ten in tackles with 8.1 per game and 97 total in 2013, including 6.5 TFLs.

Generally considered the greatest linebacker in football history, Butkus was an All-American at Illinois in 1963 and '64 and went on to star for the Chicago Bears from 1965-73. Illinois has had two previous Butkus Award winners, Dana Howard in 1994 and Kevin Hardy in 1995. Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley won the award in 2013. The 2014 semifinalists will be named in late October, with finalists named in late November.

The Fighting Illini will again play seven home games in 2014, including three in the month of September and a Big Ten slate of Purdue, Minnesota, Iowa and Penn State at Memorial Stadium. This year marks the first season of East-West divisional play in the Big Ten Conference. Illinois is in the Big Ten West division along with Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin. Ohio State is one of two crossover games for the Illini in 2014, along with Penn State. Season tickets are on sale now for as low as $99.

Senior tight end Matt LaCosse was named to the College Football Performance Awards tight end watch list. CFPA recognizes players according to scientific rankings of the extent to which they increase the overall effectiveness of their teams. LaCosse caught 20 passes for 237 yards (11.9 ypc) and three touchdowns in 2013.

2014 Illinois Preseason Honors (as of July 14)
V'Angelo Bentley, CB/KR/PR - Paul Hornung Award (most versatile player), Third-team All-American (PR, Phil Steele)
Matt LaCosse, TE - CFPA Tight End Watch List
Mason Monheim, LB - Butkus Award (LB)