Brandon Smith, Jesse Luketa Named to Butkus Award Watch List

By Matthew Filipovits on July 26, 2021 at 10:14 am
Nov 7, 2020; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions linebacker Brandon Smith (12) reacts to a defensive play against the Maryland Terrapins during the third quarter at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
© Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State linebackers Brandon Smith and Jesse Luketa have been named to the Butkus Award watch list, given annually to the nation's top linebacker.

Smith registered 37 tackles, with a team-high eight tackles for loss in his first season as a starter. His play improved as the season went on. The junior, and former five-star prospect, is primed for a breakout season this fall.

Jesse Luketa ranked second on the team with 59 tackles last season. The Canadian also logged 2.5 tackles for loss and broke up three passes. A returning captain, he's also expected to get some reps at defensive end throughout the season.

The Nittany Lions have had two players win the Butkus Award, LaVar Arrington in 1999 and Paul Posluszny in 2005. Micah Parsons was a finalist for the award in 2019 as a sophomore.