Four Big 12 linebackers have been placed on the watch list for the Butkus Award, presented to college football's best linebacker after each season.
Brian Duncan, Texas Tech
Travis Lewis, Oklahoma
Von Miller, Texas A&M
Keenan Robinson, Texas
A good list, and the same four linebackers who topped my list of the Big 12's best linebackers earlier this preseason.
Lewis and Miller should be strong contenders to be finalists for the award from the lengthy preseason list. Miller's talents have gotten major play nationally this offseason, and you know a linebacker is a real talent when 109 tackles, Lewis' total in 2009, is considered a down year.
But when you rack up 144 to lead the Big 12 as a freshman, that's what happens.
Duncan doesn't have the name recognition or resume of Miller or Lewis, but he could be poised for a big year after a move to outside linebacker.
Also, If Oklahoma State's Orie Lemon is as good as advertised by Cowboys defensive coordinator Bill Young, he might make his way onto the list, too.
No Big 12 player has won the award since Derrick Johnson in 2003, but the conference has a strong tradition in the award. Oklahoma, with four winners is the only school to win more than two awards since the trophy's inception in 1985. Teddy Lehman last won the award for the Sooners, in 2003.
Colorado is among six schools with two winners, with Matt Russell in 1996 as the last winner.
Duncan and Miller would be their respective schools' first-ever Butkus Award winner.