UTEP’s Tyrice Knight is one of 51 linebackers to be honored as a selection on The Butkus Award Preseason Collegiate Watch list on Monday.
The Butkus Award honors the nation’s best linebackers and kicked off its 38th annual selection process by announcing its list.
Knight, who started all 13 games during his junior season, ranked second on the team with 102 tackles in 2021. Knight added 9.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, an interception, three pass breakups, two quarterback hurries, a pair of forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
The product of Lakeland, Fla., concluded the season by amassing 15 tackles at the 2021 New Mexico Bowl against Fresno State. Knight’s efforts surged the Miners to their first winning campaign and bowl appearance in seven seasons.
Knight posted 10-plus tackles versus New Mexico (12), North Texas (11), UTSA (10) and UAB (10). He picked off a pass against LA Tech in the end zone with under five minutes left in the game to help seal a UTEP victory. Knight was one of two UTEP linebackers to tally 100-plus tackles last season. It was the first time since the 2005 season that happened.
The watch list features 51 linebackers, mirroring the legendary “51” pro jersey associated with the award’s namesake, Dick Butkus, who was recognized by NFL Films as the best defensive player in football history. The Butkus Award is focused on recognizing linebackers who consistently play off the ball on their feet in a two-point stance in traditional form.
The award semifinals are expected to be named Oct. 31 with finalists to follow Nov. 21. The winner will be named on or before Dec. 7. Appearing on the watch list is not a requirement to win the award.
All 2022 Butkus Award winners will be honored at a televised event on Jan. 21, 2023, at the Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa in Rancho Mirage, Calif. CBS Sports Network aired the event last season, featuring Butkus and numerous noted NFL Alumni. To watch the show online via YouTube, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRxu2gDu9pI.
Founded in 1985, the Butkus Award honors linebackers at three levels while supporting causes important to the Butkus family. Causes include Butkus Takes Heart™ initiative encouraging early cardiovascular screening among adults, and the I Play Clean® initiative encouraging athletes to train naturally without performance-enhancing drugs. A 51-member expert panel of coaches, scouts, and journalists guides the selection process. Past winners of the collegiate award include such greats as Patrick Willis, Von Miller, Luke Kuechly, Devin White, and many more.
Nakobe Dean of national champion Georgia was the 2021 recipient and is among just three players to win both the high school and collegiate Butkus Awards. The Horn Lake, Mississippi, product, now with the Philadelphia Eagles, joined Jaylon Smith and Manti Te’o in that distinction.