It’s a new week and yet another Penn State Nittany Lion has been named to a preseason award watch list. Linebacker Mike Hull is one of 51 candidates for the Butkus Award, given to the nation’s best linebacker.
Hull enters 2014 as a leader for the Nittany Lions on defense. He’s already been selected as a preseason All-Big Ten by Athlon Sports and is expected to lead the defense in tackles this season. Last year, despite missing two games due to injury, he finished second on the team with 78 total tackles. His best statistical game of the year was against Illinois, when he recorded 13 total tackles. Hull was also a huge part of the Nittany Lion’s upset victory over Michigan, recording 10 total tackles, including two for a loss on an important drive at the end of regulation and a pass breakup.
He really stood out during Big Ten play in 2013, making at least nine tackles in six conference games, good enough for fifth in the conference for tackles in Big Ten games.
The award, given each year since 1985, is named after the great Dick Butkus, often considered the best linebacker to every play the game. It honors linebackers at three levels of competition: high school, college and professional.
Known as “Linebacker U” Penn State has a long history of greats at the position. The Nittany Lions have had two players win the Butkus Award. LaVar Arrington in 1999 and Paul Posluszny in 2005. Former Nittany Lions Shane Conlan (1986), Andre Collins (1989), Brandon Short (1999), Posluszny (2006) and Dan Connor (2007) have all been finalists for the award.
Penn State’s two most recent semifinalists for the Butkus Award were Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti in 2012. Hull replaced Mauti at outside linebacker for the final two games of 2012 when the senior went out with an injury.
With Hull’s recognition, the Nittany Lions now have six players on preseason watch lists. Christian Hackenberg is up for the Maxwell Award, Kyle Carter and Jesse James are on the list for the Mackey Award, Donovan Smith is a candidate for the Outland Trophy and Jordan Lucas is up for both the Bednarik Award and the Jim Thorpe Award.