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Nov. 9, 2006

ORLANDO – The Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando, Inc. (DACO), the organization which annually presents the prestigious Butkus Award to the nation’s best collegiate linebacker has announced the three Finalists for this year’s award. In alphabetical order the finalists are:

James Laurinaitis – Sophomore – Ohio State University
Paul Posluszny – Senior – Penn State University
Patrick Willis – Senior – University of Mississippi

The winner will be announced on the Home Depot College Football Awards at Walt Disney World Resort on Thursday, December 7, 2006 in Lake Buena Vista, FL from 7-9 PM on ESPN. The Butkus Award will be presented to the winner by the award’s namesake former University of Illinois and Chicago Bear NFL Hall of Fame member, Dick Butkus.

If 2005 Butkus Award winner Paul Posluszny of Penn State repeats in 2006, he would become just the second linebacker to win the Butkus Award twice in DACO’s 22-year history. Posluszny would tie with Brian Bosworth of Oklahoma who won the inaugural Butkus Award in 1985 and 1986 respectively. Posluszny joins Chris Spielman of Ohio State, Percy Snow of Michigan State, Rocky Calmus of Oklahoma, E. J. Henderson of Maryland, Teddy Lehman of Oklahoma and Mike Stonebreaker of Notre Dame as the only players to repeat as finalists.

James Laurinaitis is just the third sophomore to be named a Butkus Award finalist. Laurinaitis joins fellow Ohio State linebacker Andy Katzenmoyer and Bosworth of Oklahoma whom both won the Butkus Award as sophomores. Patrick Willis in the first Butkus Award finalist from the state of Mississippi and just the third finalist representing the SEC in the last seven years (DeMeco Ryans of Alabama in 2005 and Raynoch Thompson of Tennessee in 1999.)

The independent Butkus Award Selection Committee for the 2006 Butkus Award, comprised of some of the nation’s foremost journalists, is solely and exclusively responsible for all voting in the Butkus Award selection process. Voting for the three finalists and the Butkus Award winner will be conducted by exclusive confidential ballots of the selection committee.

The Butkus Award is regarded as one of the most elite individual honors in college football. Past recipients include such outstanding linebackers as: Paul Posluszny (2005-Penn State); Derrick Johnson (2004-Texas) Teddy Lehman (2003-Oklahoma); E.J. Henderson (2002-Maryland); Rocky Calmus (2001-Oklahoma); Dan Morgan (2000-Miami (FL); LaVar Arrington (1999-Penn State); Chris Claiborne (1998-Southern California); Andy Katzenmoyer (1997-Ohio State); Matt Russell (1996 Colorado); Kevin Hardy (1995-Illinois); Dana Howard (1994-Illinois); Trev Alberts (1993-Nebraska); Marvin Jones (1992-Florida State); Erick Anderson (1991-Michigan); Alfred Williams (1990-Colorado); Percy Snow (1989-Michigan State); Derrick Thomas (1988-Alabama); Paul McGowan (1997-Florida State); and Brian Bosworth (1985 and 1986-Oklahoma). Created in 1985 by the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando Inc., the Butkus Award carries the name and support of one of the greatest middle linebackers in football history, Dick Butkus.