Wake's Curry wins Butkus Award

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

This is a big deal. Huge.

Why? Because of the people who choose the Butkus Award winner.

The 51-person selection panel is comprised of NFL general managers, head coaches, defensive coordinators, personnel directors, head scouts, college head coaches, recruiting coordinators, three senior football journalists and four highly-regarded independent talent evaluators.

Those people thought Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry was better than Rey Maualuga of USC and the 2007 winner, James Laurinaitis from Ohio State. Curry also beat out Brian Cushing of USC and Mark Herzlich of Boston College, who finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

Herzlich is an outstanding defensive playmaker who was invaluable to his team, but it's always interesting to see what the guys in the NFL are thinking. Remember when Wake Forest played Clemson and there were about 40 scouts there? Yeah, well, many of them were there to see Curry.

Curry finished the 2008 regular season with 101 tackles (63 solo, 15 for loss). The team is No. 2 nationally in takeaways with 35, with Curry credited for three fumble recoveries and an interception.

Curry is the fifth linebacker from the ACC to win the Butkus Award. Others were E.J. Henderson of Maryland in 2002, Dan Morgan of Miami in 2000, Marvin Jones of Florida State in 1992, and Paul McGowan of Florida State in 1987.